‘The State That Fossil Fuels Built’: Lawmaker Responds to Injunction Against Anti-ESG Law

KOKH - May 10, 2024 5:47 am

Oklahoma Capitol(Photo by Visions of America-Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

The Alliance for Prosperity and a Secure Retirement is applauding an injunction issued against the Oklahoma Energy Discrimination Elimination Act.

The group argued that retirees who depend on the state’s public pension funds are bearing the brunt of the law, which prohibits government entities from investing with firms that have boycotted the oil and gas industry.

Such efforts form part of environmental, social and governance, or ESG, investing principles which detractors argue advance political agendas over best serving the customer.

On the other hand, the Alliance for Prosperity described the law as “overreaching.” The group worries the measure could increase costs for the state’s public pension funds.

State Rep. Mark McBride (R-Moore) authored the act and responded to the group’s criticisms.

“All I’ve… heard is, is people talking about it. Nobody’s brought anything to my office, showed me any numbers,” he shared.

He noted that he hasn’t seen any evidence showing that the law is harming retirees and others. Regardless, he’s open to revisions to the law if they’re needed.

“If it’s impacted the people then, in their retirement, I would… like to sit down maybe and revisit it if I was going to continue on in office. And… I might encourage others to,” the lawmaker added.

Rep. McBride is finishing out his last term at the Oklahoma State Capitol.

He explained that previous versions of the law included carveouts for the secretary of state to step in to prevent the kinds of situations the Alliance for Prosperity is describing.

Such provisions did not make it into the bill version that became law.

Court records show the Board of the Oklahoma Public Employee Retirement System wanted an exemption to the law—and estimated the cost of divesting at almost $10 million.

According to Rep. McBride, “I want people to know that Oklahoma is the state that fossil fuels built, and if you’re going to boycott that, I don’t have a problem with not doing business with you.”

He sought to protect Oklahoma’s biggest industry—oil and gas—through proposing the legislation.

The alliance asserted that such laws bring politics into investing decisions, but Rep. McBride disagrees.

Similarly, records show that Oklahoma State Treasurer Todd Russ said financial services companies like Blackrock and State Street are more interested in advancing ideological objectives than upholding their commitments to investors.

The Alliance for Prosperity was not immediately available for an interview.

Treasurer Russ said he plans on appealing the court’s temporary ban on the law.


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