Is a criminal conspiracy going on in plain sight? Major banks and investment firms are conspiring with radical environmentalists to deny lending and investments to fossil fuel companies—jeopardizing our economy, energy future, and the rule of law.

new white paper from Ambassador C. Boyden Grey for the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Life:Powered project exposes, for the first time, the legal reasons that environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing isn’t just harmful to our economy and energy industry—it’s likely criminal collusion. 

A free market is no longer free when the major financial players are colluding—not behind the scenes but out in the open—to gut politically targeted businesses while forcing dollars into their own “green” investments. That’s exactly what’s happening on Wall Street with the rise of ESG investing. Energy companies that don’t toe the line on progressive pet projects risk losing access to capital and even having existing contracts terminated. It’s happening all over the country, as companies from The North Face to BlackRock are boycotting fossil fuels and as shady shareholder tactics are being used to take over oil companies.

These cartel-like tactics are a flagrant violation of longstanding federal antitrust laws. Corporations are legally barred from engaging in group boycotts. These rules were set into place to protect consumers from conspiracies to manipulate prices, constrain competition, and create politically or socially favored companies that limit consumer choice.

The worst part of all this? Even the most powerful financial mob could never actually succeed at eliminating fossil fuels—only at driving up prices and sending production overseas. It’s a power grab with no net gain.

No matter how vicious the media narrative on climate change becomes, we won’t stop needing affordable, reliable energy. Even after decades of multibillion-dollar subsidies intended to take renewable energy mainstream, the share of our energy provided by fossil fuels dipped from 80 percent to—wait for it—79 percent. All that expense, borne by the taxpayers, did next to nothing to improve renewable technology.

Faced with the possibility of losing access to capital and even having existing contracts canceled, many responsible American energy producers, especially small and medium-sized businesses without the vast resources of major oil companies, face the threat of going out of business altogether as banks increasingly refuse to serve the energy industry.

Unfortunately, this will drive energy production overseas, where environmental standards are lax. Not only will weakening America’s energy dominance result in higher energy costs and a weaker stance in the global balance of power, ironically, the long-term result of ESG collusion will be more harmful air pollution and more carbon dioxide emissions—the opposite of environmentalists’ stated goal of protecting the planet. 

Energy producers shouldn’t have to apologize for existing. Instead, we should be celebrating the role of responsibly produced American oil, natural gas, and clean coal in protecting our environment, improving our quality of life, and fighting poverty all over the world.

ESG investing, which could be a useful tool for individuals to make informed choices about their investments, has instead become a wrecking ball that could destroy entire industries.

The un-American agenda of the climate cartel is an affront to the principles of liberty that founded our country.

Free markets are essential to a free society. State attorneys general, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Department of Justice should act swiftly to prosecute corporations conspiring to restrain trade to the fullest extent of the law and protect the American people from the collateral damage of this criminal collusion.