SACRAMENTO - Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León released the following statement regarding today’s vote by the Board of the California State Teachers’ Retirement System to divest from U.S. thermal coal companies and to initiate engagement with non-U.S. companies:
“Today, the Board of the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) formally voted to divest its holdings in U.S. coal companies. This decision recognizes the fact that coal is a financially and environmentally toxic investment. Not only is thermal coal combustion the leading cause of global climate change, but it is a losing bet for our retirees. Coal has been deposed by superior alternatives and California pensioners should not be left holding its water. I applaud this decision and look forward to continued collaboration with both CalSTRS and the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) to protect our retirees from future investments in this industry.”
SB 185 (De León), signed into law by Governor Brown last fall, directs California’s state pension funds—CalPERS and CalSTRS—to divest their thermal coal holdings consistent with their fiduciary responsibilities under law. The bill also prevents any future investments in thermal coal from the largest pensions funds in the country.
The market value of America’s four largest coal companies has fallen 95% since 2010. Since 2007, the state of California has prohibited energy utilities from investing in new coal power in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. According to the United States Energy Information Administration, “coal plants are the nation’s top source of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, the primary cause of global warming.” A typical coal plant generates 3.5 million tons of CO2 per year. Burning coal is also a leading cause of smog, acid rain, and toxic air pollution that contribute to respiratory diseases like asthma and emphysema.