Dallas Invests in BlackRock Despite Oil & Gas Concerns

BlackRock | Image by Tada Images/Shutterstock

Documents obtained by The Dallas Express indicate that the Employee Retirement Fund established by the City of Dallas for its employees has investments in BlackRock.

After a prolonged battle that resulted in a former public employee’s social security number and financial records being leaked, The Dallas Express obtained the relevant files from the City Secretary’s office to investigate further. According to the 2023 records, the latest year for which records are available, the City of Dallas invested some money in an entity abbreviated as “BLACKROCK INC COM STK.” However, the files do not clearly indicate how much has been invested or when the investment was first made.

BlackRock is one of several corporations State Comptroller Glenn Hegar identified as allegedly unlawfully discriminating against oil and gas producers in Texas. BlackRock received such a classification because of its adherence to an environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investment strategy. ESG is a type of political activist investing that tries to create social change as much as it generates profit.

The company previously signaled an aggressive pivot away from fossil fuels and toward alternative energy sources as part of its Climate Action 100+ agenda; however, as The Dallas Express reported, it has since scaled back this program. Similarly, BlackRock strongly denies discriminating against the Texas energy sector. BlackRock executive Mark McCombe previously told the Financial Times, “We have never turned our back on Texas oil and gas companies.”

The relevant law Hegar acted upon was SB 13, also known as the Investment Protection Act, which became law in 2021. The legislation prohibits many public entities from investing in or having their assets managed by corporations that discriminate against Texas oil and gas producers. Although the law does not apply to the City of Dallas, it is unclear why the City would maintain such a close relationship with the company given Dallas’s numerous oil and gas firms.

Some entities in the state have aggressively and publicly cut ties with BlackRock. The Texas Permanent School Fund (PSF) similarly broke with BlackRock earlier this year.

“The Texas Permanent School Fund (PSF) has a fiduciary duty to protect Texas schools by safeguarding and growing the approximately $1 billion in annual oil and gas royalties managed by the Texas General Land Office,” State Board of Education Chairman Aaron Kinsey said in a March 19, 2024 statement announcing the sovereign wealth fund’s divestiture.

Kinsey added his belief that firing BlackRock was mandated and in “full compliance with Texas law,” as the “relationship with BlackRock was not in compliance with Texas Government Code Section 809, commonly referred to as Senate Bill 13.”

BlackRock responded that it was not forewarned of this decision before it was announced. However, subsequent reporting by consumer protection advocates indicates this claim is likely untrue.

Dallas is not the only municipality to have investments with the embattled multinational corporation. Documents obtained by The Dallas Express reveal that the 457(b) program for employees of The City of Houston, Texas’s energy capitol, still has considerable investments in BlackRock.

However, not all major cities in Texas are tied so closely to BlackRock. Cowtown appears to have no fiduciary connection to the company. Fort Worth has neither invested in nor had their investments managed by BlackRock, according to city records earlier reported by The Dallas Express.

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