Op-Eds

Attorney General Daniel Cameron

OP-ED: ESG Hurts Kentucky's Economy and Our Teachers, Firefighters, and Police Officers

By Attorney General Daniel Cameron

FRANKFORT, KY– Kentucky is an energy state. We benefit from the competitive advantage that comes with having abundant fossil fuels and using them to produce low-cost electricity to power our homes and businesses. This is why I am defending Kentucky from an ESG movement that would destroy the Commonwealth's competitive advantage and cripple our economy.

Kentucky is the seventh-largest coal-producing state in America. We possess about one-sixth of the country's operating coal mines. Our one oil refinery can process over 290,000 barrels of oil per day and is the fifteenth-largest U.S. oil refinery. Kentucky also houses 22 natural gas storage sites, which collectively can hold almost 222 billion cubic feet of natural gas. Because of these resources, Kentucky averages the twelfth-lowest electricity prices of any state and the second-lowest prices of states east of the Mississippi River.

The reality is that for the foreseeable future renewable energy cannot compete with the affordability and reliability of our fossil fuels.

But sadly, a dire trend is emerging. Our coal-fired plants are retiring faster than renewable energy is coming online to replace them. In November, Commissioner Mark Christie of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission explained that nuclear, natural gas, and coal generators are shutting down at a dangerous pace, and—as soon as this winter—parts of America could see large increases in utility bills and the potential for electricity shortfalls. The unreliability seeping into our nation's electrical grid is being caused, in large part, by ESG.

The fundamental goal of the ESG movement is the destruction of fossil fuel industries. Advocates have used a number of tactics to achieve this result, including enlisting major banks to block fossil fuel companies and the industries that rely on them from accessing the funding that they need.

To be clear, ESG advocates are free to invest their money in industries other than fossil fuels. No one is stopping them from doing so. But that is not what is happening. Instead, your money is used for their climate virtue signaling. They want control of your bank accounts and retirement funds, as well as the pension plans of teachers, firefighters, and police officers, so they can amass enough leverage to force companies to abandon fossil fuels. 

ESG advocates do not care if their climate goals hurt our pensioners, undermine our economy, or increase utility bills for hard-working Kentuckians. But my office does care, and we want to ensure a fair playing field for Kentucky and our economy. So, in opposing the ESG movement, my office is defending Kentucky jobs, livelihoods, and families.

Earlier this year, I released the first Attorney General Opinion in the nation on ESG investment practices. That opinion concludes that ESG-driven investing of public pension assets is incompatible with fiduciary duty under Kentucky law. Put another way, Kentucky law says that politics has no place in our public pensions. I followed that opinion with letters to our state's largest public pension funds, asking that they explain how they are placing return on investment for our teachers, firefighters, and police officers above any ESG goals.

I also sent subpoenas to six of the nation's largest banks, requesting information relating to their involvement with the United Nations' Net-Zero Banking Alliance. That alliance requires the banks to align "their lending and investment portfolios with net-zero emissions by 2050." This means that six of America's biggest banks, holding trillions of dollars in deposits, have agreed to devote your money to interests that run counter to our needs as a significant energy producer.

A recent op-ed from a liberal newspaper criticized my questioning of these banks and presented a stark and disingenuous choice: submit to ESG or face more natural disasters like those recently weathered by Eastern and Western Kentucky. My heart breaks for the families who have withstood these storms and courageously persevered throughout a challenging recovery. But we should not trivialize their struggles with a false choice framed by extreme climate ideology.

Crippling our economy cannot be the answer to the real challenges posed by natural disasters. As demonstrated by the success of projects like the Pikeville cut-through and the Louisville floodwalls, we have options to overcome these weather events. We do not have to submit to green energy activists who tell us that renewables are good and fossil fuels are bad.   

Kentucky should embrace and take pride in both our heritage and position of leadership as an energy state. Rather than surrendering to climate alarmism, we must leverage the competitive advantage and economic strength provided by our God-given resources. That is what I am fighting for as your Attorney General.

Daniel Cameron is the 51st Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. A high resolution photo of Attorney General Cameron is available here.

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