June 24, 2015

California Coal Divestment Bill Clears Major Hurdle

S.B. 185 continues to the Appropriations Committee after a 5-1 vote in the Committee on Public Employees, Retirement, and Social Security

Contact: Brett Fleishman, 350.org, (970) 376-5041

CALIFORNIA — With a vote of five in favor and one against in the California State Assembly Committee on Public Employees, Retirement, and Social Security, S.B. 185 cleared a major hurdle on the road to divesting the state’s public pension funds from thermal coal. Having passed this major procedural milestone, the bill will now make its way to the Appropriations Committee for a vote, before heading to the floor for a vote from the full Assembly.

“I’m delighted to see S.B. 185 advance in the Assembly. California once again leads the nation in saying ‘no’ to fossil fuels and ‘yes’ to investment in clean energy jobs,” said RL Miller, chair of the California Democratic Party’s environmental caucus. “I wrote the first-in-the-nation fossil fuel divestment resolution back in 2013, which passed the California Democratic Party this year, and I’m happy to see Democratic Party values becoming legislative reality.”

This bill has received notable endorsements, including a testimony to CalSTRS from Tom Steyer, a joint letter from health organizations, support from the Alliance of Nurses for a Health Environment and the California Nurses Association, as well as from unions including the California Federation of Teachers, the California Faculty Association, and SEIU Local 1000. Supporters from across the state gathered at the committee vote to show their strong backing of S.B. 185.

“We came here today to ensure that our representatives do everything in their power to act on the climate crisis, and that starts with taking our investments out of fossil fuels,” said Carla West, a California divestment organizer with 350.org. “These pension funds are intended to secure a stable future, but that is impossible if we keep investing in fossil fuels. We are glad to see this bill to divest from coal pass through the first committee, and we will keep pushing until it passes through the Assembly and is signed into law.”

This decision comes within one week of Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, in which the leader of the Catholic Church calls for all of humanity to quickly turn away from coal, oil, and gas – a call providing significant momentum for the fossil fuel divestment movement.

“The pope’s encyclical made it completely clear that the climate crisis means that we all have to re-examine our priorities, and make sure that our finances promote a healthy future for the planet,” said Reverend Fletcher Harper, the Executive Director of GreenFaith. “That’s why divestment – and S.B. 185 – is so important. There’s just no way to argue that investing in coal is consistent with a positive future.”

The campaign for S.B. 185 is part of a growing worldwide push to divest the financial holdings of universities, religious institutions, pension funds, and other investors from fossil fuel companies. For more information on S.B. 185, visit: http://focus.senate.ca.gov/climate.