Investing in BlackRock would be "a clear conflict of interest" since the firm aims to cut the greenhouse gas emissions of its portfolio to net-zero, West Virginia Treasurer Riley Moore told Fox News.
The West Virginia Board of Treasury Investments will no longer use BlackRock for banking transactions, Moore announced Monday. He said the decision was made since BlackRock "has urged companies to embrace ‘net zero’ investment strategies," which he said hurts West Virginians.
"There's a clear conflict of interest here to hand over tax dollars generated from coal and gas to a financial institution that wants to destroy those very industries in which they're reaping dollars from," Moore told Fox News.
BlackRock, the world's largest asset manager with nearly $10 trillion under its management, announced in 2021 that it is "committed to supporting the goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 or sooner."
"What does that mean? That means no fossil fuels," Moore told Fox News.
"So why are we going to hand those dollars over to the same people that want to destroy our industries? That doesn't make sense," Moore continued. "We're not going to pay for our own destruction."
In a Jan. 17 letter to investors, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink said the firm "does not pursue divestment from oil and gas companies as a policy."
Coal and energy production are the lifelines of the Mountain State's economy, Charleston residents told Fox News.
"All you have to do is go in your yard and go down a foot, you're going to find coal," one West Virginia resident, Anthony, told Fox News, "Coal is West Virginia's bread and butter."
A West Virginia woman told Fox News: "A lot of our stuff that we have here runs on coal."
Another resident, Paul, said: "Coal is definitely important. It's almost cultural … It's hard to take that away."
"There's not a lot of other job opportunities that supply that type of salary and living wage," he continued.
Moore called West Virginia an "energy state," noting its coal mining and gas production.
"As BlackRock looks to push people out of investing in those types of industries, it hurts us," the treasurer said.
"Your energy costs, your bills are going to increase if there is no coal and gas in this country, you're going to pay the price," Moore added.
The coal and oil industries provide great paying jobs and furnish significant tax revenue, Moore told Fox News. He said $1.5 billion annually flows through the BlackRock fund he's withdrawing from.
He also criticized firm's investments in China, bemoaning how the world's most populated country is building dozens of coal-fired power plants. The BlackRock China Fund, which BlackRock uses to invest in Chinese holdings, is valued at around $1.5 billion.
"So coal is apparently OK in China, not OK in America, which I think is absolutely wrong and an opportunity where we certainly need to put America first," Moore said.
Anthony agreed: "Investing in China? No, we need to invest here."
Moore told Fox News: "We are certainly continuing to grow and diversify our economy. But part of that is cheap and abundant energy that we're going to be able to supply new manufacturers, new businesses here in the state of West Virginia."
"We want to do business with companies that want to do business with us," Moore added.