Casper, WY.    –    Bank of the West, which has more than 600 branches in the Western and Midwest United States, and more than 24 locations in Wyoming, announced recently that it is suspending business with many fossil fuel developers.

In a statement, Bank of the West, claims it’s taking a stand regarding the types of economic activities they will invest and participate in. The statement was first reported back in October of 2017, but the full statement was only recently released on the companies website.

In the release the company states, “We will no longer do business with companies whose main activity is exploring, producing, distributing, marketing or trading oil and gas from shale and/or tar sands.”

The full statement, as it appears on the website, reads as follows:

“We’re investing where we feel we can make the most impact, like advancing diversity and women entrepreneurship programs, financing for more small businesses, promoting programs for sustainable energy, and withdrawing support from companies and business activities that are detrimental to our environment and our health.

As a long-term partner of the energy industry, we are proud to work with companies in oil, coal and gas that are actively involved in the energy transition and committed to building a more sustainable energy future.

To this end, Bank of the West has made the following decisions:

– We will no longer do business with companies whose main activity is exploring, producing, distributing, marketing or trading oil and gas from shale and/or tar sands.

– We will never finance oil and gas exploration or production projects in the Arctic.

– We will no longer finance coal mines or coal-fired power plants that are not actively involved in the energy transition.

– We will terminate all financing and investing activities relating to tobacco product manufacturers, as well as producers, wholesalers and traders whose revenue comes primarily from tobacco.

As the bank for a changing world, we’re continually seeking to improve the ways we help our customers, while contributing to more sustainable and equitable growth.

 

Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso condemned the bank, for what he feels are anti-fossil fuel policies, in a letter to Bank of the West’s CEO on Wednesday.

Barrasso called on the companies’ CEO in San Francisco to visit communities served by Bank of the West branches in Wyoming to see first-hand how vital energy investments are to customers in Wyoming and the country.

“This misguided and politically expedient decision is a direct attack on hardworking families in Wyoming and across the country that depend on fossil fuels for energy security, jobs and economic growth. While it may be fashionable today in San Francisco to exclude states like Wyoming from your lending plans, it will do little to discourage us from pursuing our best future on our terms…There is no discernible reason the Bank of the West cannot strive to increase small business lending, promote environmental stewardship, and support entrepreneurs without vilifying an industry that contributes so much to communities across Wyoming and the country,” Barrasso wrote.

You can read Barrasso’s full letter below:

Nandita Bakhshi
President and Chief Executive Officer
Bank of the West
180 Montgomery Street
San Francisco, CA 94104

Dear Ms. Bakhshi:

I am writing to express my profound disappointment – and the anger of many of your own Wyoming customers – with the Bank of the West’s announcement that it will no longer conduct business with companies engaged in the exploration and production of coal, oil and natural gas. This misguided and politically expedient decision is a direct attack on hardworking families in Wyoming and across the country that depend on fossil fuels for energy security, jobs and economic growth. While it may be fashionable today in San Francisco to exclude states like Wyoming from your lending plans, it will do little to discourage us from pursuing our best future on our terms.

In Wyoming, we are blessed with vast reserves of many energy resources, including coal, oil and natural gas. These resources fuel our state’s economy, employ people in good jobs, and provide affordable energy to homes and businesses throughout the country. Fossil fuel production also provides billions of dollars in yearly tax revenues to build and maintain schools, highways, water systems and other critical infrastructure in local communities. We deliver these resources to the country and the world while protecting the natural beauty and environmental health of the state.

Simply put, fossil fuels are essential to the livelihood of people in my home state, including those served by the dedicated employees at your 23 Wyoming branches. It is a serious mistake to pick winners and losers in energy markets, especially to the detriment of your own customers.

Your plan to isolate and exclude fossil fuel producers and the families that depend on them from your bank’s future business plans is a regretful mistake. There is no discernible reason the Bank of the West cannot strive to increase small business lending, promote environmental stewardship, and support entrepreneurs without vilifying an industry that contributes so much to communities across Wyoming and the country.

I hope that you will soon take the time to visit the communities served by your bank’s branches in Wyoming so that you can see first-hand how vital fossil fuels are to your customers in Wyoming and the country.