NY Legislators Push State Retirement Fund Divest Fossil Fuels

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Chris White Tech Reporter
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A dozen New York lawmakers are pushing the state’s retirement pension fund divest fossil fuel assets, all in the hopes of ratcheting down carbon emissions, the Associated Press reported Monday.

Those pushing the purge argue fossil fuels threaten New York’s environment, citizen’s health and threaten biodiversity by raising sea levels.

The Senate and Assembly divestment bill has 21 sponsors and would require New York’s $178.3 billion pension fund jettison assets from 200 of the biggest publicly traded fossil fuel companies within a year. The lawmakers would require all other fossil fuel holdings be divested by 2020, according to the Associated Press.

Pension fund trustee Thomas DiNapoli, also a New York comptroller, has joined other investors in urging fossil fuel companies investigate the impact coal and oil production play in worsening man-made global warming. The drive to have state pension funds divest from coal and oil is hitting a fevered pitch, with states like Vermont and California etching out bills requiring funds drop fossil fuel assets.

California lawmakers passed a bill last September essentially mandating the state’s two largest pension divest holdings from thermal coal companies.

“Coal is the fuel of the past and it’s no longer a wise investment for our pensioners,” California assemblyman Rob Bonta, who presented the bill, said in a statement. “I’m pleased that my colleagues agree: it’s time to move on from this dirty energy source.”

Vermont’s House Delegation passed a resolution Feb. 26 urging its state pension fund managers remove assets from Exxon Mobil, as well as coal companies, from their portfolios. This resolution also requested the pension fund purchase assets from alternative, socially responsible energy sources.

“ExxonMobil and coal companies are some of the world’s worst climate offenders,” Vermont House Speaker Shap Smith said in a press statement.

He added: “For too long, these corporations have put profits ahead of the health of our planet. Now we see financial consequences as coal companies hemorrhage dollars and file for bankruptcy. We call on the State’s investment managers to evaluate how the reckless behavior of fossil fuel companies will impact our investments’ long-term success.”

“I appreciate that [the bill] recognizes the Vermont Pension Investment Committee as the proper fiduciary entity to make investment decisions,” Beth Pearce, the Vermont State Treasurer and fossil fuel divestment proponent, said in a press statement to The Daily Caller News Foundation Monday. “I look forward to working on the issues discussed in the resolution passed by the house,” she added.

Much of the angst geared at Exxon is the result of a slew of reports published by InsideClimate News and others suggesting Exxon is responsible for rejecting climate change research while at the same time preparing for higher sea levels supposedly caused by man-made global warming.

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