Texas pulls $8.5B from BlackRock in stunning blow to ESG movement

Story by Thomas Catenacci

The State of Texas is terminating a massive $8.5 billion investment with trillion-dollar asset manager BlackRock over the state’s determination that the firm is engaged in a boycott of energy companies.

In an announcement first shared with FOX Business, Texas State Board of Education Chairman Aaron Kinsey said the so-called Texas Permanent School Fund (PSF) had delivered a notice to BlackRock on Tuesday, informing the New York City-based firm of the action. According to Kinsey, the move was made in accordance with a 2021 state law that seeks to distance the state and its large public purse from financial institutions boycotting the oil and gas sector.

“The Texas Permanent School Fund has a fiduciary duty to protect Texas schools by safeguarding and growing the approximately $1 billion in annual oil and gas royalties managed by the Texas General Land Office,” Kinsey said in a statement Tuesday. “Terminating BlackRock’s contract ensures PSF’s full compliance with Texas law.”

“BlackRock’s dominant and persistent leadership in the ESG movement immeasurably damages our state’s oil & gas economy and the very companies that generate revenues for our PSF. Texas and the PSF have worked hard to grow this fund to build Texas’ schools,” he continued. “BlackRock’s destructive approach toward the energy companies that this state and our world depend on is incompatible with our fiduciary duty to Texans.”

The divestment represents a large share of the $53 billion Texas PSF, a fund created in the 19th century to support the state’s public schools. The action also represents by far the largest divestment of its kind since Republican-led states began terminating their financial ties to BlackRock and other financial institutions over their pursuit of so-called environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards

The ESG movement, which has picked up steam in recent years, calls for investments to be pulled from traditional energy industries and diverted to green energy industries in the fight against global warming. However, the ESG movement has faced significant resistance from both the energy industry and lawmakers at the state and federal level. 

As part of that pushback, Texas passed Senate Bill 13 in 2021, requiring its state comptroller to list financial companies found to boycott fossil fuel companies. Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar most recently updated that list in October, including BlackRock and several funds managed by the firm, and has called on the Texas Permanent School Fund, in addition to five state pension funds, to sever ties with the asset manager.

“Today represents a major step forward for the Texas PSF and our state as a whole. The PSF will not stand idle as our financial future is attacked by Wall Street,” Kinsey said Tuesday. “This bold action helps ensure our PSF remains in fact permanent and will continue to support bright futures and opportunities for generations of Texas students.”

BlackRock, which manages more than $10 trillion in assets, has sought to defend itself in recent months from accusations that it is boycotting energy companies, noting that it remains invested in traditional energy companies, but factors in ESG matters because it serves clients with a range of investment objectives. Additionally, the firm partnered with major energy company Occidental Petroleum late last year on a carbon capture project in Ector County, Texas.

“BlackRock is helping millions of Texans invest and save for retirement,” a BlackRock spokesperson told FOX Business. “On behalf of our clients, we’ve invested more than $300 billion in Texas-based companies, infrastructure and municipalities, including $125 billion invested in the energy sector, including a $550 million joint venture with Occidental. We recently hosted an energy summit in Houston designed to explore how to strengthen Texas’ power grid.”

Still, Texas’ move was cheered by Derek Kreifels, the CEO of the State Financial Officers Foundation, and Will Hild, the executive director of Consumers’ Research, who have led nationwide opposition to ESG policies.

“Today’s bold step by Aaron Kinsey and the Permanent School Fund of Texas, in accordance with state law, is a massive blow against the scam of ESG,” said Kreifels. “This is what happens when public fiduciaries stand up for those to whom they owe a duty, instead of bowing down to Wall Street’s asset managers who continue to abuse their position in the market to advance radical ideologies.”

Under Larry Fink’s leadership, BlackRock has been misusing client funds to push a political agenda for years. Nowhere was that more egregious than in Texas, where BlackRock was simultaneously trying to destroy the domestic oil and gas industry while managing funds that depended on royalties derived from that very same industry,” added Hild. “A more flagrant violation of fiduciary duty is difficult to imagine.”

Hild said Texas’ divestment sends a “clear message” that “Wall Street elites that people can no longer be bullied into complying with ESG’s destructive ideology.”

Read More From: For A Free America

Prior to the action announced Tuesday, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Missouri, South Carolina, Utah, and West Virginia announced similar divestments. The largest previous divestment was Florida’s, worth $2 billion, announced by Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis in December 2022.

Some critics of the states’ moves distancing themselves from BlackRock and other asset managers have argued the actions harm consumers. For example, a Texas Association of Business Chambers of Commerce Foundation study released last week concluded Texas’ ‘Fair Access’ laws will result in $668.7 million lost in economic activity and 3,034 fewer full-time, permanent jobs.

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Comments (1)

  • If you read the Financial Times they have an article on this specific point. The inflows into ESG funds have dropped about 90% over the past 3 years. They also state that investor support for ESG has dropped dramatically. So, Texas is just one client, but they are losing a lot more than just Texas. Sounds just like another scheme to push the green new deal, or maybe the world economic agenda. You know one world order.

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