As a concerned constituent, I’m calling on you to support Public Divestiture of Thermal Coal Companies (SB 185). As California leads the nation in climate action, divesting our public pension funds from coal mining companies is both essential and inevitable, given the rapidly declining state of the industry. Please support SB 185 when it comes up for a vote, and consider co-sponsoring this important bill.
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Here’s the rundown:
It’s time for the two largest state pension funds in the United States to stop investing in the companies driving the climate crisis.
For years, California has been considered an environmental leader and has led the way in clean air, clean water, and pollution standards. But both of our state pension funds, the two largest in the nation, currently hold investments in fossil fuel companies that are wrecking the planet and exploiting communities around the world.
California can’t be a leader in the fight against climate change while our two big state pension funds continue to invest in the companies driving the climate crisis and harming our air, our health, and our communities.
These funds combined have about $300 million invested in coal — one of the dirtiest and most heavily polluting fossil fuels. The coal industry not only contributes to climate change: every year, it’s responsible for 800,000 premature deaths around the world.
SB 185 would divest CalPERS and CalSTRS from companies that generate at least half their revenue from coal mining.
CalPERS alone is the largest state pension fund in the nation, with over $300 billion in assets. CalSTRS is the largest teachers’ retirement fund in the country, with nearly $200 billion in assets. If these two massive funds were to divest from coal — and eventually from all fossil fuels — it would help undermine the huge power wielded by the fossil fuel industry, in California and beyond.
Right now, we have the unique opportunity to set a precedent for other pension funds across the nation to divest. If SB 185 passes, ours would be the first public pension systems in the nation to divest, and the first state legislature to pass a divestment bill.
Join us to demand that our state divest its pension funds from fossil fuels, starting with coal.
UPDATE: SB 185 just made it through a State Assembly Committee! That’s a big achievement— but this fight isn’t over. The bill will come under review by the full Assembly over the coming weeks. Let’s keep the pressure on.
“Coal combustion releases a toxic soup of chemicals such as nitrogen oxides that contribute to smog, mercury, and particulate matter that together damage the respiratory, cardiovascular, and nervous systems and contribute to heart disease, cancer, stroke, asthma, and chronic lower respiratory disease. Hundreds of thousands of children are born in the U.S. each year with blood mercury levels high enough to cause lifelong loss of intelligence. Coal is harmful to health in every part of its life cycle — from black lung disease and fatal injuries in mining, to flooding and water contamination from surface mining, to particulate matter pollution in coal transport, and coal ash contamination of wells and rivers.”
— Dr. Linda Rudolph, a CalPERS retiree who worked for 30 years as a preventive medicine physician in both local and state government in California. She served as the founding co-chair of the state’s Climate Action Team Public Health Work Group.
A drought-stricken California
In the midst of this historic drought, Californians are feeling the impacts of our changing climate more acutely than ever — even as the oil and gas industry continues to poison water and communities up and down the state.
The climate crisis puts our agricultural industry, coastal communities, and ecosystems at risk. Last year alone, the drought led to the loss of 17,000 jobs in agriculture. 2015 looks even worse, with a farm job loss estimate well above 20,000. Right now, the most vulnerable communities bear the brunt of the climate and industry-fueled water crisis, and the fossil fuel industry’s adverse health and safety risks.
It’s time for our two big state pension funds to stop investing in fossil fuels that are driving climate change and our severe drought — and coal is one of the worst.
California: Paradise Burning (The New Yorker)
Crippling Drought in the Golden State (VICE)
We need your help from across the state to pass this bill to divest California’s huge pension funds from coal. Whether you can only volunteer for a few hours or weekly over the summer, there’s a role for you.
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“Investing in coal simply is simply not worth the risks. We have a moral obligation to protect our children, as well as an economic imperative to get out of this sinking asset. I am pleased that my colleagues have approved S.B. 185, and I look forward to working with the Assembly and Governor Brown to ensure it is signed into law.”
— Senator Kevin de León
SB 185 is being supported by a broad group of organizations across California. Check out the list below.
350 Bay Area
Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments (ANHE)
American Academy of Pediatrics
American Lung Association
Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN)
Baz Allergy, Asthma and Sinus Center
California Black Health Network
California Democratic Party
California Faculty Association (CFA)
California Federation of Teachers
California League of Conservation Voters
California Nurses Association
California Public Health Association
California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA)
California Student Sustainability Coalition
Center for Climate Change and Health
Doctors for Climate Health
Environmental Health Coalition
Fossil Free California
Health Care Without Harm
Human Impact Partners
Physicians for Social Responsibility
Public Health Institute
Regional Asthma Management and Prevention (RAMP)
San Francisco Asthma Task Force
Sonoma County Asthma Coalition
These investments are more than numbers in the bank.
They’re funding coal mines, port terminals, power plants, and other infrastructure — polluting our air, our water, and our communities while worsening climate impacts that raise sea levels, super-charge hurricanes, and intensify droughts and floods. These investments are hurting real people in real places.
This is bigger than California — it’s about all communities hurting from coal.
Beyond California: Real people & places behind the investments
Right now, our state pension funds invest millions of dollars in coal companies that exploit communities around the world, including some of the biggest and worst offenders. Their investments include Peabody Energy, China Shenhua Energy Co., Adani Enterprises, Consol Energy, and PT Adaro, just to name a few.
See these companies for what they really are — below is a small sampling of stories from across the front lines of extraction and pollution: