(The Center Square) – Gov. Greg Abbott denounced President Biden’s ESG policies on Thursday, arguing they will hurt the U.S. energy industry.
Biden’s environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) policies “directly threaten millions of American energy jobs – many of which are based in Texas – compromise American energy security, and further a trend of federal attempts to undermine the nation's energy industry,” he said.
Abbott sent a letter to the president, saying, “Your administration has waged war on the American energy sector. Just a few short years ago, America was energy independent, with a blossoming exploration business and exports that could fuel the needs of our trading partners around the world. Over the past two years, you have tried to stifle the American energy sector with your ESG fanaticism, your overly aggressive Environmental Protection Agency, and your favoritism of foreign oil over homegrown energy.
“As the Governor of Texas, I see firsthand the problems your policies have created for hard-working Americans looking for an opportunity to succeed. By pushing this radical ESG agenda, you are risking the lifelong savings of millions, for political points. I will continue to stand up for my constituents who rely upon the good-paying jobs of our energy industry. Anyone who puts their livelihood at risk will have a fight on their hands down in Texas.”
He challenged the president on the same day a coalition of 18 governors announced their plan to oppose Biden ESG policies, led by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. They argue Biden’s policies will “jeopardize retirement savings for millions of Americans to promote far left priorities.”
Abbott, the Texas legislature and comptroller have already taken actions to address ESG policies, and several new bills filed this legislative session also propose to curtail it. However, Abbott’s approach on Thursday specifically defended the Texas oil and natural gas industry, which leads the U.S. in oil and natural gas production, lowered emissions, industry job growth, wages, payroll and Gross Regional Product.
“As the energy capital of the world, Texas has led efforts to defend this critical industry against the Biden Administration’s destructive energy policies,” Abbott said. Earlier this year, Biden’s EPA backed down on plans targeting the Permian Basin in West Texas after the governor pushed back on multiple fronts.
Last year, the legislature passed a bill, which Abbott signed into law, prohibiting state contracts and investments with companies that boycott energy companies. In January 2021, he also issued an executive order directing all state agencies to challenge any federal action that jeopardizes the energy industry.
In his letter, he, like the coalition of governors, refers to Congress rejecting a Department of Labor Rule through the Congressional Review Act, which the president has threatened to veto.
According an assistant secretary with the Department of Labor, Ali Khawar, “A principal idea underlying the proposal is that climate change and other ESG factors can be financially material and when they are, considering them will inevitably lead to better long-term risk-adjusted returns, protecting the retirement savings of America’s workers.”
Congress disagreed. “Bipartisan majorities in both the U.S. House and Senate have repealed your administration’s efforts to force … ESG standards upon America’s investment funds,” Abbott wrote the president. “The American people have spoken, and their message is clear: We must protect our robust energy industry. ESG requirements directly threaten millions of American jobs, many based right here in Texas.”