Commission appears ready to pull local accounts from Bank of the West according to emails

(Lander, Wyo.) – Following the lead of State Treasurer Mark Gordon, the Fremont County Commissioners appear poised to discuss pulling the county’s financial accounts from Bank of the West.

The California-based bank announced last week that they would no longer “engage in business with companies who are involved in the exploration, production, and distribution of coal, oil, and natural gas.” Almost immediately, Gordon said he would withdraw the state’s accounts from the bank because those industries are vital to the state’s economic health.

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The local action was suggested in an email to members of the commission by County Treasurer Scott Harnsberger on Friday afternoon. The emails were copied to a County10.com reporter. The email reads: “You have all probably read or heard about Bank of the West publicizing that they will no longer invest in companies whose main activity is exploring, producing, distributing, marketing or trading oil and gas from shale and/or tar sands.  And they will no longer finance coal mines or coal-fired power plants that are not actively involved in the energy transition.  This concerns me.

“I have been in contact with Bank of the West to let them know that Fremont County benefits tremendously from these industries.  If the deposits that that Bank of the West will not be used for industries that support the economy and major contributor to Wyoming’s tax base, I will find a bank that will provide support for those industries.

“Although I am very satisfied with our relationship with Bank of the West, I would rather support a business that will invest in activities that support the economy in Wyoming and particularly Fremont County.  I have been in contact with BOW Wyoming representatives who are working to help me better understand their position.

“Although the timing is not the best, I have reached out to a couple of local banks to begin looking at moving our funds.”

Reaction from three of the commissioners was swift, also via email:

•  “Scott, I have the same concerns as well. I know we are currently using BOW for our credit cards, and (I) asked Julie (Freese) on Thursday what it will take to find another bank that will support the County. I understand this is not a local decision, and may not reflect the local branches, but we certainly should do business with those who want our business. Scott, I support and applaud your efforts. – Travis Becker”

•  “Thank you Scott.  I agree with you and Chairman Becker, we need to take our business elsewhere.” – Ray Price

•  “All, I agree we should find another bank asap.” – Jennifer McCarty

Read about the Bank of the West’s announcement here.

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