Texas Leading Oil Regulator Joins War Against ESG

Texas Railroad Commission Chairman Wayne Christian cheered the state government’s push against environmental, social, and governance investing “extremists.”

Map of Texas and oil derrick
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Texas’s leading oil and gas regulator on 25 August cheered the state government’s push against environmental, social and, governance (ESG) investing “extremists” such as BlackRock and UBS.

“I’m thrilled to see my conservative colleagues join the defense against ‘woke’ Wall Street bankers,” Texas Railroad Commission Chairman Wayne Christian said in the statement.

“Rally the troops: Here in Texas is where we will draw the line against ESG’s detrimental impact on oil and gas,” he added.

Christian — who recently defeated a Republican primary challenger who was pushing for more statewide regulation of pollution caused by oil and gas — made his statement against the backdrop of a broader campaign by Texas’s state government against companies it accuses of boycotting oil and gas.

On 24 August, State Comptroller Glenn Hegar banned state and local entities from doing business with 10 banks that the state accused of boycotting the oil and gas industry.

ESG investors have often argued that consideration of those elements is necessary for truly responsible investing decisions — which Texas sees an implicit attack on oil.

But Republicans such as Christian and Hegar — and their counterparts in other states — have sought to portray the movement as financially irresponsible and politically motivated.

ESG has “produced an opaque and perverse system in which some financial companies no longer make decisions in the best interest of their shareholders or their clients but instead use their financial clout to push a social and political agenda shrouded in secrecy,” Hegar said in an agency statement.

Christian was even more pointed in his comments. “Your retirement account is just collateral damage to radical environmentalists who are leveraging ESG investment strategies to defund the oil and gas industry,” he said.

Earlier this month, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton joined 18 other states attorneys general in a letter to BlackRock CEO Larry Fink challenging the company support for ESG.

“Rather than being a spectator betting on the game, BlackRock appears to have put on a quarterback jersey and actively taken the field,” the letter said.

It also accused the company of political interference by means of using “the hard-earned money of our states’ citizens to circumvent the best possible return on investment, as well as their vote."

Texas’s ban is “not a fact-based judgment,” a BlackRock spokesperson told The Texas Tribune.

“BlackRock does not boycott fossil fuels — investing over $100 billion in Texas energy companies on behalf of our clients proves that.”

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