Dem Lawmakers Push CA Pension Fund To Divest Exxon Assets

(REUTERS/Lee Celano)

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Chris White Tech Reporter
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Two California Democratic lawmakers urged the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) Wednesday to purge its ExxonMobil assets, essentially striking a shot across the besieged oil company’s bow.

Congressmen [crscore]Ted Lieu[/crscore] and [crscore]Mark DeSaulnier[/crscore] sent a letter to CalPERS CEO Anne Stausboll, telling the head of the pension fund that investing in Exxon is “morally suspect.” CalPERS is a $300 billion pension fund, making it the largest public retirement fund in the U.S.

CalPERS is wallowing around in oil stock. The fund, as of 2013, owned $500 million in BP, $641 million in Royal Dutch Shell, $773 million in Chevron, and more than $1.2 billion in Exxon.

“We have seen no discernible evidence that CalPERS’ efforts to engage ExxonMobil have resulted in any significant change in the way the company operates when it comes to taking action on climate change,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter.

The letter continued: “It is now time for CalPERS to take action and divest from ExxonMobil. As the nation’s largest public pension fund, CalPERS can set a visionary example for other funds to follow.”

CalPERS did not respond to requests for comment by The Daily Caller News Foundation.

The attorneys’ general criticisms come as a result of a September investigation of ExxonMobil conducted by InsideClimate News and others. The investigation found that Exxon had allegedly played fast and loose with information concerning global warming.

Exxon is not the only company on the chopping block. Several companies are being blamed for doing similar things. InsideClimate News also alleges that Phillips, Texaco, Amoco, Shell joined Exxon in committing fraud.

Exxon is pushing back against InsideClimate’s reporting.

“Contrary to activists’ claims, our company’s deliberations decades ago yielded no definitive conclusions,” Suzanne McCarron, Exxon vice president of public affairs wrote in a statement Tuesday.

She added that the company does not shy away from discussing in public forums the best way to implement policies concerning “emerging science.”

Members of California State Teachers’ Retirement System’s (CalSTRS), one of California’s other pension funds, voted in February to divest all of its assets in U.S. coal companies following a 2015 law forcing the group to divest.

“We determined that given the financial state of the industry, the movement of the regulatory landscape and coal’s impact on the environment, its presence reflects a loss of value,” Hendricks said in a statement at the time.

Still, the fund’s $1.5 million coal assets represents a dusting of CalSTRS’s overall $186 billion portfolio.

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