June 3, 2015

California State Senate Passes Bill For Thermal Coal Divestment

S.B. 185 continues to the State Assembly after 22-14 vote in Senate

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

Claire Conlon, (916) 651-4024, (Senator Kevin de León)

Senate Vote

Senator Kevin de León during a press conference after the vote on S.B.185

CALIFORNIA — The California State Senate made history today in passing S.B. 185, a bill calling for the nation’s two largest state pension funds, CalPERS and CalSTRS, to divest from thermal coal. The bill passed with 22 senators voting for and 14 against, ramping up pressure on the California State Assembly to follow the Senate’s lead and pass the legislation.

S.B. 185 is one of thirteen bills in the Climate Leadership Package, introduced by CA Senator President pro Tempore Kevin de León, and calls for the State of California to make responsible investments aligned with their values. S.B. 185 is the first piece of government legislation in the U.S. that would compel public pension funds to divest their holdings from fossil fuels — signaling major momentum for divestment campaigners in California.

“Investing in coal simply is simply not worth the risks,” said Senator Kevin de León. “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.”

The push for S.B. 185 has won major momentum in recent weeks, beginning with a strong endorsement from the California Democratic Party, and continuing with a joint letter of support signed by health organizations, including the American Lung Association, Health Care Without Harm, and Physicians for Social Responsibility.

“It’s gratifying that California is taking this important step first — not because we want to be number one, but because we know the rest of the world is watching what happens here,” said Janet Cox of Fossil Free California. “CalPERS and CalSTRS are leaders among public pension funds. They are well-respected and financially massive, and their actions attract a lot of global attention. Let’s hope this action will inspire other states and other governments to legislate divestment from fossil fuels that threaten everyone’s well-being.”

With passage of S.B. 185 in the State Senate, the bill will make its way to the California State Assembly, where legislators are facing increasing pressure to support fossil fuel divestment.

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.