State Leaders Speak Out about New Western Bank Policies

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CEO’s looking to capitalize on the non-renewable energy market may have hit a road block with a corporate bank.

Corporate members from Bank of the West are choosing to cut business with oil and gas companies.

News 13 spoke with Wyoming state leaders about what this means for the Equality State.

Economic reports show recent growth within Wyoming’s energy sectors, but now affiliates with the industry may have hit a different kind of bust.
According to the Bank of the West website, they will no longer fund fracking or coal operations.

They're actually making a lot of changes saying:
"We're investing where we feel we can make the most impact like advancing diversity and women entrepreneurship programs. Financing for more small businesses promoting programs for sustainable energy and withdrawing support from companies and businesses that are detrimental to our environment and our health."

Some state leaders received the breaking news, but say the effects could be minimal.

Representative Debbie Bovee in Natrona County said, “I think it probably will affect the bank more than Wyoming because I think Wyoming will stop doing business with them."

Bank of the West operates throughout Wyoming and most locations are near areas influenced by coal, oil and gas all golden resources in our state.

"The mineral industry is huge in our state. It's huge, and whether they like it or not that's what we do, and we need that support."

Senator Charles Scott says, because of where the headquarters are located, Bank of the West representatives are not working on an agenda tailored to Wyoming.

Some state leaders have heard of fracking and coal businesses receiving letters from their bank representatives indicating they will no longer do businesses with them.

Scott says those affected businesses will move to banks operating more locally.

However, the move does not completely shun Wyoming businesses as Bank of the West representatives say they will work with companies involved in the energy transition.

Representative Bovee concluded, she's for cleaner energy, as long as it does not hurt Wyoming’s strengths.

"If they want to invest in that that's great, but I’d hate to see them pull money from our mineral industry."

State leaders were surprised to hear the policy change and wonder if another corporate bank operating in Wyoming could take similar steps.

State leaders say the bank's Wyoming branches could be on the receiving end of the new policies because of the industries they are choosing to discontinue business with.