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Fund managers urge companies to stay away from ANWR

Asset managers for one the world's largest banks and a giant pension fund joined conservation groups on Monday in urging oil and gas companies to stay away from drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

BNP Paribas Asset Management, the New York State Common Retirement Fund and other institutional investors signed onto a letter sent to more than 100 oil and gas companies and major banks, urging them not to participate in development in the refuge, according to a press statement from the Sierra Club on Monday.

The letter was part of a campaign the Sierra Club helped organize to highlight opposition to drilling in the 19-million-acre refuge, officials said.

Congress in December ordered the federal government to hold two lease sales in the refuge's 1.6-million-acre coastal plain by the end of 2024. The regulatory process to do that was launched in April, putting pressure on conservation groups and others opposed to drilling in the little-touched region.

BNP Paribas Asset Management is part of BNP Paribas, one of the world's largest banks, holding more than $2 trillion in assets, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. The New York retirement fund, the third largest public pension plan in the U.S., holds close to $200 billion in assets.

The letter says companies involved in oil exploration and drilling in the coastal plain will be negatively branded for destroying pristine wilderness and contributing to climate change.

"Any oil company or bank that supports drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge faces enormous reputational risk and public backlash," the letter, dated Monday, said.

Any money invested in developing the refuge will "be at serious risk of becoming stranded assets," said Thibaud Clisson, BNP Paribas AM's senior analyst, according to the press statement.

On Monday, a letter opposing development in ANWR from the Gwich'in Steering Committee, representing indigenous Gwich'in people in northeast Alaska and nearby Canada, was also sent to oil and gas companies and banks. More than 100 conservation and indigenous rights groups signed onto that letter.

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