CHARLESTON—West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has joined a coalition of 13 states in urging the commissioner of the California Department of Insurance to reconsider a divestment policy that his office says undermines coal mining.

The California Department of Insurance’s Climate Risk Carbon Initiative requires large California-licensed insurance companies to disclose a list of investments and divest any made in fossil fuels. The initiative does not require any insurer to get rid of any investments in fossil fuels, but asks all California-licensed insurers to voluntarily divest from thermal coal investments only.

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey

"This is an attempt by the insurance commissioner of one state to regulate the energy sector of a nation," Morrisey said in a statement. "There is no benefit to the public or the insurance market by requiring these disclosures and divestments; the action only serves to harm coal miners, their families and everyone who depends upon coal's success."

California Insurance Commissioner David Jones is asking California-licensed insurers to voluntarily sign a pledge to never invest in coal again, but it is not a requirement.

The initiative doesn’t place the same requirements on the renewable energy sector.

The letter points out the potential for legal action if California’s insurance commissioner continues to call for divestment and discriminatory disclosures of fossil fuel investments.

"This initiative is misguided as a matter of policy, questionable as a matter of law and inconsistent with the principle of comity among the United States," the letter, signed by Oklahoma AG Mike Hunter, states. "If you continue your Climate Risk Carbon Initiative ... legal action against you is a certainty.

West Virginia joined the Oklahoma-led letter along with the attorneys general of Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Texas, Utah and Wyoming and the governor of Kentucky. 

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