New Hampshire governor signs executive order prohibiting ESG in state investments

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) signed an executive order April 11 directing state executive agencies to invest their funds based on expected financial returns (not based on ESG investing criteria), making the state the latest to push back against ESG in public investments. According to NH Journal:

“Just weeks after the Biden administration imposed new rules promoting ESG investing by retirement fund managers, Gov. Chris Sununu issued his own order blocking state agencies under his control from joining in the ‘woke’ investment movement.

“‘Executive branch agencies shall prioritize investment decisions that maximize financial returns and minimize risk, as part of their fiduciary duty to act in the best interest of the State and the beneficiaries of the state’s trust funds,’ Sununu’s order read in part. By mandating ‘maximizing returns,’ Sununu is effectively banning the ‘environmental, social, and corporate governance’ (ESG) investment criteria.

“‘The most important responsibility we have is getting the best return for our retirees. And this ESG stuff doesn’t get the returns,’ Sununu told NHJournal Tuesday. ‘It hurts returns, it increases risk, and it doesn’t fulfill the mission.’

“Sununu’s executive order also instructs relevant state agencies to review their policies to ensure ‘no funds or state-controlled investments are invested with firms that invest New Hampshire funds in accounts solely based on ESG criteria.’ And it instructs State Treasurer Monica Mezzapelle to ‘report on an annual basis’ to the governor and legislature ‘regarding compliance with the duty to make investment decisions based upon the fiduciary duty to maximize short or long-term financial benefits for the state.’

“The order is just the latest action the Sununu administration has taken to oppose the new ESG rule. Last month, Sununu joined 18 fellow GOP governors in a letter to the Biden administration, pledged to fight the move….

“And his Attorney General, John Formella, is part of a lawsuit attempting to block the new rule from being applied.”

Ballotpedia is tracking support for and opposition to the environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) investing movement, especially as it relates to public policy. To learn more about arguments for, against, and about ESG, click here. For more information on reform proposals related to ESG policy, click here.