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BMO Reverses Anti-Coal Policy

BMO dropped plans to curb lending to the coal industry last year to avoid accusations of energy boycotting from West Virginia, Bloomberg has reported, citing an update from West Virginian Treasurer Riley Moore.

The update came in the form of a list of financial institutions that restrict lending to the state’s major industry and are exposed as seeking to destroy the state’s vital energy industry, per Moore. The list is a result of a Republican law passed in 2022, which names financial firms that have “publicly stated they will refuse, terminate or limit doing business with coal, oil or natural gas companies without a reasonable business purpose.”

The list released this week includes majors such as BlackRock, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo, and JP Morgan, but the name of Bank of Montreal’s U.S. subsidiary BMO was not mentioned by the West Virginian Treasurer, suggesting it had done a U-turn on its coal curb plans. HSBC, Citigroup, and Northern Trust were also named among the energy boycotters.

“We cannot allow institutions that seek to destroy our state’s critical energy industries and the economic activity they generate to also profit from handling the very taxpayer dollars they seek to diminish,” the West Virginian Treasury said in a statement.

The companies on the list were warned they would end up on it earlier this year. In response, a counselor for BMO wrote back to West Virginia’s Moore, saying, per Bloomberg, that “As a result of policy changes made in November 2023, we removed a Coal Statement from BMO’s websites as it did not fully reflect our current policies.”

“After receipt of your letter, we realized that a cached version of the statement remained on our websites and took it down. We have no plans to republish the Coal Statement,” Timothy Cox also wrote.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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