ESGphobic: State Treasurer Todd Russ last week began the state’s inquisition of financial institutions in order to identify those deemed insufficiently supportive of oil and gas.
Under legislation approved last year, the treasurer is required to determine which banks and investment firms doing business with the state “boycott energy companies” and begin the process of terminating the state’s relationship with them.
To do this, Russ has sent questionnaires to suspected violators asking for information about their “environmental, social and governance policies.”
ESG, as it’s known, has become a target for the oil and gas industry and conservative politicians because, in theory, it includes environmental, social and governance factors in investment decisions.
One result is a constriction of investment in fossil fuel industries.
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Rep. Mark McBride, R-Moore, the author of last year’s legislation, said at the time he didn’t think the state should support financial institutions with policies contrary to the state’s dominant economic sector.
Interestingly, some on the left are also critical of ESG — because, they say, most companies with ESG policies don’t really follow them.
There are also arguments that neither ESG nor anti-ESG legislation is exactly fiscally or legally sound. Investment decisions, whether by government or private entity, are supposed to be based on best returns.
The highest-profile target of the anti-ESG movement is the investment giant BlackRock, which holds 60% of the Oklahoma Public Employee Retirement System portfolio, according to Russ.
Moody’s rates BlackRock Aa3, the highest possible for an investment firm. So forcing OPERS to divest itself of Black Rock could have a noticeable impact on the primary pension system for state employees.
Judgment calls: Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart famously summarized the difficulty in defining obscenity thusly: “I know it when I see it.”
This was in 1964, in the landmark Jacobellis v. Ohio, when seven of the nine justices ruled that Louis Malle’s “The Lovers” was not obscene but could not agree why.
Sixty years later, the Oklahoma Legislature is still struggling with the definition of what is, if not obscene, at least inappropriate for minors. Lawmakers are pretty sure schools and libraries are providing kids with things they shouldn’t but can’t agree on what exactly is and isn’t appropriate.
State Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman, wants newspapers and television to decide.
His Senate Bill 1056 would define as “obscene” anything that one or more “news outlets” or “secular print outlets” would refuse to print or communicate because the material is “inappropriate, vulgar or … too sexually explicit.”
Meetings and events: Route 66 Alliance Executive Director Ken Busby is featured speaker for Heart of the Party, the Tulsa Chapter of the Oklahoma Federation of Democratic Women, 6:30 p.m., Monday, at Baxter’s Interurban, 717 S. Houston Ave.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs will hold a public meeting on proposed changes to rules related to the leasing of Osage mineral rights at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, at the Osage Casino and Hotel, 5591 W. Rogers Boulevard, Skiatook.
AARP Oklahoma is hosting a Facebook Live presentation at 10 a.m. Thursday with Executive Director Sean Voskuhl discussing the state organization’s advocacy work. The program will include a question and answer period and is open to the public at Facebook.com/AARPOK.
The Tulsa County Democratic Party has scheduled a series of informational meetings ahead of spring precinct meetings:
– 6:30 p.m., Feb. 16, Peggy Helmerich Library, 5131 E. 91st St.
– 2 p.m., Feb. 28, Tulsa County Democratic Party Headquarters, 3930 E. 31st St.
– 6:30 p.m., March 9, Rudisill Library, 1520 N. Hartford Ave.
– 2 p.m., March 11, TCDP Headquarters.
Campaigns and elections: A panel discussion on State Question 820, which would legalize recreational medical marijuana, is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday at the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa, Learning Center Room 145.
Panelists are Tulsa County Health Department Executive Director Bruce Dart, Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler, Oklahoma Policy Institute Criminal Justice Policy Analyst Damion Shade and Yes on 820 Campaign Director Michelle Tilley.
The program is sponsored by the League of Women Voters.
Gov. Kevin Stitt and First Lady Sarah Stitt joined the Republicans at the state Capitol lining up in support of Maressa Treat, wife of Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, for Oklahoma County Clerk.
Bottom lines: Americans United for Separation of Church and State urged state officials to disregard a decision by former Oklahoma Attorney John O’Connor that would make it easier for religion-sponsored schools to receive state aid. … Current Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond joined a federal lawsuit filed in Texas over the scope of the federal government’s authority to declare a public health emergency. … Drummond also jumped on the pile of state officials trying to stop relisting of the lesser prairie chicken as an endangered species. … 2022 U.S. Senate candidate Jackson Lahmeyer’s Sheridan Church has affiliated with the Christian Nationalist organization Ekklesia of Oklahoma. … The National Governors Association meets next weekend in Washington.
— Randy Krehbiel Tulsa World