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Texas pulls $8.5 billion from BlackRock over DEI rules, left-wing climate agenda

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From LifeSiteNews

By Calvin Freiburger

‘’BlackRock’s destructive approach towards the energy companies that this state and our world depend on is incompatible with our fiduciary duty to Texans,’ said Texas State Board of Education Chairman Aaron Kinsey.

The Texas Permanent School Fund (PSF) is becoming the latest state fund to divest its financial stake in far-left asset management giant BlackRock, Inc., pulling $8.5 billion from the company over its use of corporate influence to push leftist activism.

The Washington Examiner reports that Texas State Board of Education Chairman Aaron Kinsey notified BlackRock and announced the decision the same day, March 19.

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

The withdrawal followed the 2021 passage of a law banning the state from any company that practices so-called  “environmental, social, and governance” (ESG) standards, essentially a scoring system that incentivizes investing in companies not on the basis of their performance for customers and shareholders, but rather on their fealty to so-called “social justice” principles such as diversity and environmentalism. ESG is one of the reasons why so many companies in recent years have attempted to influence public policy on issues such as homosexuality, transgenderism, race relations, and abortion.

In 2022, Texas state Comptroller Glenn Hegar released a list of firms that would be barred from “entering into contracts with state and local” governmental agencies over their hostility to traditional energy production in favor of the so-called “green” agenda, including BlackRock.

“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,” cheered State Financial Officers Foundation CEO Derek Kreifels, Fox Business reports. “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,” agreed Consumers’ Research executive director Will Hild. “A more flagrant violation of fiduciary duty is difficult to imagine.”

Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Missouri, South Carolina, Utah, and West Virginia have previously divested themselves of BlackRock. Last year, nineteen states – Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming – formed a coalition to collectively agree to resist ESG standards in a variety of ways, such as banning their use in state pension-fund investment decisions, banning the use of “social credit scores” in banking and lending practices, and banning ideological discrimination against customers by financial institutions.

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Carbon tax costs Canadian economy billions

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From the Canadian Taxpayers Federation

Author: Franco Terrazzano 

This tax costs Canadians big time at the gas pump, on home heating bills, on the farm and at the dinner table.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is calling on the federal government to scrap the carbon tax in light of newly released government data showing the tax will cost the Canadian economy about $25 billion in 2030.

“Once again, we see the government’s own data showing what hardworking Canadians already know: the carbon tax costs Canada big time,” said Franco Terrazzano, CTF Federal Director. “The carbon tax makes the necessities of life more expensive and it will cost our economy billions of dollars.

“Prime Minister Justin Trudeau must scrap his carbon tax now.”

The government of Canada released modelling showing the cost of the carbon tax on the Canadian economy Thursday.

“The country’s GDP is expected to be about $25 billion lower in 2030 due to carbon pricing than it would be otherwise,”  reports the Globe and Mail.

Canada contributes about 1.5 per cent of global emissions.

Government data shows emissions are going up in Canada. In 2022, the latest year of data, emissions in Canada were 708 megatonnes of CO2, an increase of 9.3 megatonnes from 2021.

The federal carbon tax currently costs 17 cents per litre of gasoline, 21 cents per litre of diesel and 15 cents per cubic metre of natural gas.

The carbon tax adds about $13 to the cost of filling up a minivan, about $20 to the cost of filling up a pickup truck and about $200 to the cost of filling up a big rig truck with diesel.

Farmers are charged the carbon tax for heating their barns and drying grains with natural gas and propane. The carbon tax will cost Canadian farmers $1 billion by 2030, according to the Parliamentary Budget Officer.

“No matter how many times this government tries to put lipstick on the carbon tax pig, the reality is clear,” said Kris Sims, CTF Alberta Director. “This tax costs Canadians big time at the gas pump, on home heating bills, on the farm and at the dinner table. Trudeau should make life more affordable and improve the Canadian economy by scrapping his carbon tax.”

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New York and Vermont Seek to Impose a Retroactive Climate Tax

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From Heartland Daily News

By Joshua Loucks for the Cato Institute.

Energy producers will be subject to retroactive taxes in New York if the state assembly passes Senate Bill S2129A, known as the “Climate Change Superfund Act.” The superfund legislation seeks to impose a retroactive tax on energy companies that have emitted greenhouse gases (GHGs) and operated within the state over the last seventy years.

If passed, the new law will impose $75 billion in repayment fees for “historical polluters,” who lawmakers assert are primarily responsible for climate change damages within the state. The state will “assign liability to and require compensation from companies commensurate with their emissions” over the last “70 years or more.” The bill would establish a standard of strict liability, stating that “companies are required to pay into the fund because the use of their products caused the pollution. No finding of wrongdoing is required.”

New York is not alone in this effort. Superfunds built on retroactive taxes on GHG emissions are becoming increasingly popular. Vermont recently enacted similar legislation, S.259 (Act 122), titled the “Climate Superfund Act,” in which the state also retroactively taxes energy producers for historic emissions. Similar bills have also been introduced in Maryland and Massachusetts.

Climate superfund legislation seems to have one purpose: to raise revenue by taxing a politically unpopular industry. Under the New York law, fossil fuel‐​producing energy companies would be taxed billions of dollars retroactively for engaging in legal and necessary behavior. For example, the seventy‐​year retroactive tax would conceivably apply to any company—going back to 1954—that used fossil fuels to generate electricity or produced fuel for New York drivers.

The typical “economic efficiency” arguments for taxing an externality go out the window with the New York and Vermont approach, for at least two reasons. First, the goal of a blackboard or textbook approach to a carbon tax is to internalize the GHG externality. To apply such a tax accurately, the government would need to calculate the social cost of carbon (SCC).

Unfortunately, estimating the SCC is methodologically complex and open to wide ranges of estimates. As a result, the SCC is theoretically very useful but practically impossible to calculate with any reasonable degree of precision.

Second, the retroactive nature of these climate superfunds undermines the very incentives a textbook tax on externalities  would promote. A carbon tax’s central feature is that it is intended to reduce externalities from current and future activity by changing incentives. However, by imposing retroactive taxes, the New York and Vermont legislation will not impact emitters’ future behavior in a way that mimics a textbook carbon tax or improves economic outcomes.

Arbitrary and retroactive taxes can, however, raise prices for consumers by increasing policy uncertainty, affecting firm profitability, and reducing investment (or causing investors to flee GHG‐​emitting industries in the state altogether). Residents in both New York and Vermont already pay over 30 percent more than the US average in residential electricity prices, and this legislation will not lower these costs to consumers.

Climate superfunds are not a serious attempt to solve environmental challenges but rather a way to raise government revenue while unfairly punishing an entire industry (one whose actions the New York legislation claims “have been unconscionable, closely reflecting the strategy of denial, deflection, and delay used by the tobacco industry”).

Fossil fuel companies enabled GHG emissions, of course, but they also empowered significant growth, mobility, and prosperity. The punitive nature of the policy is laid bare by the fact that neither New York nor Vermont used a generic SCC or an evidentiary proceeding to calculate precise damages.

Finally, establishing a standard in which “no finding of wrongdoing is required” to levy fines against historical actions that were (and still are) legally permitted sets a dangerous precedent for what governments can do, not only to businesses that have produced fossil fuels but also to individuals who have consumed them.

Cato research associate Joshua Loucks contributed to this post.

Originally published by the Cato Institute. Republished with permission under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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