Missouri treasurer joins push against effort to get banks to drop fossil fuel assets

Missouri State Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick is shown in his Capitol office in January 2020.
Missouri State Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick is shown in his Capitol office in January 2020.

Missouri Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick is one of 15 Republican state treasurers who collectively say they'll "closely monitor" and could pull assets from "banks and financial institutions to refuse to lend to or invest in coal, oil, and natural gas companies."

The group wrote it "intend(s) to put banks and financial institutions on notice of our position" in a Tuesday letter sent to John Kerry, the first U.S. special presidential envoy for climate.

Kerry and the Biden administration have turned to banks as a way to reduce carbon emissions and advance environmental policy, which the coalition of treasurers wrote will "discriminate against law-abiding U.S. energy companies and their employees, impede economic growth and drive up consumer costs."

The treasurers, led by West Virginia's Riley Moore, criticized those economic policies as "antithetical" to democracy and capitalism, and called them a way to "bully" corporations that are operating legally.

They said the administration's pressure "will certainly harm the most economically depressed areas in our states and the most vulnerable of our people."

"The coal, oil, and natural gas industries in our states are vital to our nation's economy," they wrote. "These industries provide jobs, health insurance, critical tax revenue, and quality of life to families across our country. As the Obama Administration's War on Coal demonstrated, reckless attacks on the fossil fuel industry ultimately cut off paychecks for workers and take food off the table for hard-working middle-class families - the very people the Biden Administration claims to champion."

In a statement, Fitzpatrick acknowledged finding renewable energy sources is important but said the fossil fuel industry has its place, too.

"Attempts to pressure financial institutions to cut off the fossil fuel industry amounts to nothing less than an abuse of power by the federal government and should not be tolerated by states," Fitzpatrick said. "These backroom deals do not live up to the ideals of the American experiment, and we should expect and demand more from those in Washington."

While states like West Virginia are known for their stake in the fossil fuel industry, Missouri remains tied to those energy sources, too.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported last week Missouri has 1.5 percent of the nation's "economically recoverable" coal reserves, but the state burns more coal for electricity generation than any other state except Texas.

The EIA reported 70 percent of Missouri's net electricity generation came from coal in 2020, and renewable energy sources accounted for less than 9 percent of the state's total in-state net electricity generation.