Dunleavy wants state to cut ties with banks that won’t fund Arctic oil projects

A white man speaks as he sits at a table with an american flag in the background
Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaks at a news conference in September 2020 (Office of the Governor)

Gov. Mike Dunleavy wants the state government to sever its ties with financial institutions that won’t finance oil and gas development in the Arctic.

Dunleavy announced in a news release Monday that his administration will introduce a bill during the upcoming legislative session that would require state departments and agencies to end any existing relationships with the businesses.

The proposed move by Dunleavy follows a string of announcements from major banks and lenders that say they won’t invest in oil and gas projects in the Arctic. Those companies include Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase.

Environmental groups trying to block drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge have lobbied the banks to rule out investing in Arctic oil development. 

Monday’s news release from the governor’s office said the proposed legislation would “protect Alaska’s economy.” 

“It makes no sense for Alaska to allow financial institutions to benefit handsomely from Alaska’s financial activities on one hand, while working against our interests on the other,” Dunleavy said.

RELATED: Anxiety creeps into oil-dependent Alaska as banks step back from Arctic investment

The exact impact Dunleavy’s proposal would have on state agencies wasn’t immediately clear. 

Jeff Turner, the governor’s spokesman, said the scope of the change would be included in the draft legislation, and he said that document was not yet available Monday. He also said he did not have a list Monday of the financial institutions that the proposal would bar state agencies from using.

Alaska Wilderness League, a vocal opponent of drilling in the Arctic, swiftly criticized Dunleavy’s plans to introduce the bill. It said the governor is missing the broader point that “speculative, high cost projects in places like Alaska’s Arctic are no longer attractive to investors, especially with the realities of climate change and as more lucrative opportunities in renewable energy or unconventional oil plays down south exist.”

The federal government plans to hold its first-ever oil and gas lease sale in the Arctic refuge’s coastal plain on Jan. 6. 

RELATED: In last-minute push, Trump administration announces ANWR lease sale for Jan. 6

Reach reporter Tegan Hanlon at thanlon@alaskapublic.org or 907-550-8447.