How It All Got Started –My First Experience with Divestment

As a retired fire chief and public pensioner from the DC area, I’ve always kept a close eye on the D.C. Council and its activities. In 2014, the Council began considering a bill that would require D.C. to divest its pension from fossil fuels. I was shocked that a city council would take a policy issue and base financial decisions for public funds on that issue.

So, I began researching…. And what I found was unnerving. Not only could divestment negatively impact the returns on public pensions, but it would do nothing to directly solve environmental challenges.

I published my opinion on the issue in the Washington Informer, calling on the D.C. Council to stand for public pensions. In the piece, I wrote “Oil and natural gas companies are often the highest performing and most reliable investments, providing very healthy returns for teachers, firefighters, police officers and other public pension retirees. In fact, compared to other investments, fossil fuel companies average a seven times greater return. This fact alone is astounding and should demonstrate very clearly the lack of financial justification for — or even defensibility of — divestment.”

Ever since 2014, I’ve kept an eye out for other divestment issues, and as it turns out, there were divestment movements popping up all over the country, including divestment from gun companies, for-profit prisons, etc. It was shocking the lengths people would go to put public pensions at risk. I thought now was as good a time as any to begin pushing back and giving pensioners’ a voice on the issue.

Read my entire 2014 opinion editorial in the Washington Informer here.


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