Latest Developments with Divestment: California, San Francisco, and New York

The past few weeks have seen a flurry of activity from divestment advocates across the country.

In California, the state Assembly passed AB 20, which is designed to pressure the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) to divest from the already operational Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). If successful, the bill would affect $4 billion worth of assets in CalPERS alone. Both pension funds have opposed the measure, with CalPERS stating that “there … Read More

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Pittsburgh Mayor Endangers Pensions to Make a Point

In the wake of President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Accord, several local and state public officials have come forth with pledges to keep their states and cities in compliance with the treaty. While it is certainly their prerogative to do so, it is troubling that some of these announcements include talks of divestment, which does nothing to help the climate and whose only discernible effect is to hurt pensioners.

One of these leaders is … Read More

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Protect our Pensions Calls on California Assembly to Reject AB 20

Protect our Pensions sent a letter to all 80 members of the California Assembly this morning, urging lawmakers to reject Assembly Bill 20, legislation that pressures the California state pension funds to divest of their energy holdings.   Please see the following letter to the state Assembly Members:

Dear State Assembly Member,

On behalf of our members in the State of California, we urge you to oppose Assembly Bill 20, which would require filing annual disclosures of the carbon footprint of

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California Pensioners Urge Lawmakers to Reject Harmful Divestment Measure

Today, thirteen members of Protect our Pensions from California submitted a letter to the lawmakers of the California Assembly Committee on Appropriations, urging them not to resuscitate Assembly Bill 20, which was intended to divest public employee retirement systems from their investments with the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). Assembly lawmakers have since put the bill on hold after some amendments, but its passage is still possible.

The letter highlighted the widespread opposition to the bill:

Since its introduction, this bill

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Protect our Pensions Urges Montgomery County Pension Board to Ignore Non- Binding Divestment Resolution

Recently the Montgomery County Council decided to put ideology above smart investing principles and vote for a resolution calling for the divestment of the county pension fund. The resolution vote follows a failed attempt to force the board to divest at the end of last year.

Protect our Pensions opposed the original bill and also opposed the resolution, stating:

Given that the original bill was deemed simultaneously dangerous to the county’s pension funds and ineffective in its broader purpose,

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Montgomery County Firefighters: Reject Divestment Resolution

Jeffrey Buddle, President of Montgomery County Career Fire Fighters Association, IAFF Local 1664, which represents around 1,500 firefighters in Maryland, wrote a strongly worded letter to members of the Montgomery County Council, asking them to reject a divestment resolution, which calls on county pension funds to sell off traditional energy stocks in order to make a political statement.

Asking the critical question, “what purpose does the resolution actually serve?” Mr. Buddle pointed out that the resolution would have no … Read More

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Montgomery County Council Attempts Divestment with Harmful Resolution

After being rebuffed by pension board officials, labor union members, and citizens, the Montgomery County Council decided a few weeks ago to amend a controversial divestment bill into a resolution, which would encourage divestment, rather than mandate it. The Council is still scheduled to vote on that resolution on Tuesday, May 16.

Protect our Pensions has opposed the bill; we have stated:

Given that the original bill was deemed simultaneously dangerous to the county’s pension funds and ineffective in

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California Pension Boards Remain Firmly Committed to Engagement

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) were recognized by the Financial Times for their commitment to corporate engagement in a recent article concerning divestment.

CalPERS recently voted to reject divestment as a preferred tool for social change, arguing that “divesting appears to almost invariably harm investment performance.” Instead the new CalPERS policy “prohibits Divesting in response to Divestment Initiatives, but permits CalPERS to use constructive engagement.”

The divestment campaign to disengage … Read More

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Orange County Register column: California Should Stop “Playing Politics with Pension Funds”

With several divestment bills before the California Legislature, increasingly urgent calls to leave pension funds alone have been reported in the state media. Just recently, Carlos Solorzano, the CEO of The Hispanic Chambers of Commerce of San Francisco pushed back against divestment bill AB 20, making the case that the legislation will be harmful to businesses in San Francisco and across the state. The editorial board of The Press Democrat, of Santa Rosa, also strongly objected to pensions … Read More

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California Political Leader: Water Infrastructure Should be Top Environmental Concern, Not Divestment

In an op-ed published in the California Political Review, Fullerton Mayor Bruce Whitaker  raised awareness of the fact that in the debate over divestment, other  far more urgent and consequential environmental issues have not received as much scrutiny, even though they should.

Highlighting the fact that there is no consensus around the idea that divestment would actually address environmental challenges, Whitaker cited both CalPERS and Stanford University’s opposition to divestment. CalPERS’ officials called divestment “an ineffective strategy for achieving … Read More

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