OKLAHOMA CITY — Earlier this year, the state of Oklahoma announced it would stop doing business with banks that it said had gone “woke.”

That basically boiled down to 13 banks that were boycotting the oil and gas industry, but in the last week has been cut down to six.

An Oklahoma law passed in 2022 says financial institutions that boycott oil and gas companies may be excluded from doing business with the state, and State Treasurer Todd Russ says he is committed to upholding the statute.

“The statute said that anyone that fails to respond to the inquiry is presumed to be boycotting and therefore has to be placed on the list,” Russ said.

Once HB 2034 became law in 20, Russ sent out a questionnaire to nearly 200 financial institutes in Oklahoma to learn if they would be able to operate still under the new law.

“If you look at the questionnaire, the first question on the list is, are you publicly traded?” Russ said. “Since they didn’t respond then, according to the statute, they went on the list.”

This was the initial list of 13 that were banned, {GCM Grosvenor, Lexington Partners, Firstmark Fund Partners, Stepstone VC Global Partners, WCM Investment Management, William Blair, Actis, BlackRock Inc., Wells Fargo & Co., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bank of America, N.A., State Street Corp., and Climate First Bank.}

Half of them, once they learned why they were banned, responded to the questionnaire and were deemed okay to operate, but these six financial institutes still remain, {BlackRock Inc., Wells Fargo & Co., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bank of America, N.A., State Street Corp., and Climate First Bank.}

“They did offer their position and made their claims, but they didn’t indicate they had any intention of changing their position on their world climate position,” Russ said.

One name on that list, Bank of America, has built a strong relationship with the city of Stillwater. Mayor Will Joyce says no longer being able to operate with them is going to pose some issues.

“So we’ve got a project to replace some infrastructure in town,” Joyce said. “Bank of America was going to be a lender on that project. We had it almost all wrapped up before that list was published and so when Bank of America ended up on it, we had to reach out and try to figure out what could be done to move forward with the project.”

Joyce says he has been in contact with Russ, the attorney general and many lawmakers because he feels this is unfair to them when they already had this project in place before the new law. However, there is belief that they could be exempt.

“Anything prior to the list that they had made, the commitments in my office; my professional opinion is that doesn’t necessarily qualify to disqualify them,” Russ said. “So I told him that I don’t see any reason Bank of America couldn’t continue on with their commitment to the town of Stillwater.”

“We received letters from the attorney general and the state treasurer letting us know that they don’t think the law really applies to our project in Stillwater, but it has still has some sort of legal unknowns about exactly what the best way to move forward for us is going to be,” Joyce said.

The Stillwater city council is expected to bring the issue up at its meeting Monday. We’ll be sure to let you know what happens.