The investment titan has been accused by Lt. Governor Dan Patrick of “capriciously discriminating against the oil and gas industry by exiting investments solely because companies do not subscribe to a ‘net zero’ policy beyond what is required by law.”
Patrick’s comments came in response to statements from BlackRock CEO Larry Fink touting “startups that help the world decarbonize and make the energy transition affordable for all consumers.”
Last year, the Texas legislature passed Senate Bill 13 which tasks the comptroller with pulling state money out of companies that are deemed to have engaged in fossil fuel divestment practices. Earlier this month, Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced he’d sent letters to 19 companies suspected of harboring these policies — among which is BlackRock.
The letters ask the companies to clarify their policies and practices in question. Out of these, and any others the comptroller finds, a final list of offending companies will be identified for divestment by the state. In his proclamation, Patrick asked Hegar to add BlackRock “to the top of the list.”
In his discussion with TIPRO President Ed Longanecker, Kapito wasted no time in disputing Patrick’s and others’ charge. “BlackRock is the biggest investor in oil and gas,” he said, stating that the company has $264 billion invested in fossil fuel companies across the nation, $93 billion of which is in Texas.
Kapito placed a lot of blame for the allegations on perceptions spun by the media. “Nothing about our strategy with respect to the energy industry has changed. Not because of the new bill, not because of the media,” he stated.
Instead, Kapito added, BlackRock is 1) providing its customers with a choice of investment direction and 2) partaking in the “evolution” of the energy industry.
“We gotta get over a lot of the media hype — we are investing in fossil fuels. People talk a lot about the transition, but this is not a transition. It’s an evolution.” Kapito added, comparing it to the rhetoric against the oil and gas industry writ large, that the company has “lost the narrative” fight on this issue.
When he released the preliminary list, Hegar said, “Our research thus far shows that some companies are telling us and other energy-producing states one thing, and then turning around and telling their liberal clients in other states another thing.”
In his speech at TIPRO right before Kapito took the stage, Governor Greg Abbott denounced companies that are engaging in fossil fuel divestment practices but did not name BlackRock specifically.
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Brad Johnson is an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.