California First State in the Nation to Divest from Coal

SB 185 Signed by Governor Brown

Thursday, October 08, 2015

SACRAMENTO – Governor Jerry Brown today signed into law SB 185, which requires California’s public pension funds, CalPERS and CalSTRS, to divest from holdings in thermal coal. The measure is the first of its kind in the nation. CalPERS and CalSTRS are the largest public pension funds in the nation, with $293 billion and $184 billion in assets, respectively.

“Coal is a losing bet for California retirees and it’s also incredibly harmful to our health and the health of our environment,” SB 185 author Senator De León said. “I am grateful to my colleagues in the legislature for recognizing the importance of this measure, and to the Governor for signing it into law. It has been a pleasure to work with CalPERS and CalSTRS to improve retirement security for our public employees while also aligning our investments with our values as a state.”

Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org said, “California, once again, is helping show the way. Amidst the smoky depths of the state's endless drought, its leaders have taken their cue from a small army of activists and begun to divest from the companies that have caused this crisis. These are two of the 20 largest pension funds on planet earth, and this first big step will resonate in every financial market around the world. It's a bad day to be a coal baron, and a signal day for the divestment movement and for the Golden State.”

“We had hundreds of dedicated volunteers working statewide to get this bill passed,” said Janet Cox, SB 185 campaign lead for Fossil Free California, an all-volunteer group coordinating with 350.org. “It’s been energizing to work on such important legislation, and it’s great to win. We’re all so proud of California for taking the lead once again.”

350.org Executive Director May Boeve said, “This is a big win for our movement, and demonstrates the growing strength of divestment campaigners around the world. California’s step today gives us major momentum, and ramps up pressure on state and local leaders in New York, Massachusetts, and across the U.S. to follow suit -- and begin pulling their money out of climate destruction too.”

“California is once again proving that we walk the walk and talk the talk when it comes to battling climate change, said Dan Jacobson, Legislative Director for Environment California. “This is just the beginning- we will now encourage all cities, counties, universities and others to follow suit and divest from coal.”

"This is a tremendous victory for the people of California and the divestment movement," said Leslie Samuelrich, President of Green Century "It is another sign that people have lost their faith in the fossil fuel industry and want their investments to reflect that conviction." 

For more information about SB 185 visit: focus.senate.ca.gov/climate     

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