BMO drops anti-coal policy amid Wall Street rebuke of ESG – by Amanda Albright (Bloomberg News – April 8, 2024)

BMO Bank quietly dropped its policy restricting lending to the coal industry in late 2023, helping it avoid being labelled an energy “boycotter” in West Virginia. The change came to light Monday after West Virginia Treasurer Riley Moore took a victory lap in an announcement of the financial firms it was adding to its boycott list, which doesn’t include BMO.

In late February, the bank received a warning that it could be put on a state list of companies that Moore’s office considers to boycott the fossil fuels industry. BMO is the U.S. subsidiary of Toronto-based Bank of Montreal.

In response to that February notice, Timothy Cox, U.S. general counsel for BMO, said in a March 25 letter to the state treasurer’s office that it removed a statement detailing its restrictions on lending to the coal industry as a result of policy changes in November 2023. Cox’s letter was obtained by Bloomberg News via a public records request.

“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,” Cox’s letter to Moore’s office said. “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.”

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