SB 185: Looks like we did it…

Standing up to Big Oil

The Governor will stand up to Big Oil this week!

by Janet Cox

…with a little help from Bill McKibben and Tom Steyer, who teamed up to accost the Governor at an event they were all attending. He committed to signing the bill, but he didn’t say when. October 11 is his deadline, so stay tuned this week!

There has been a lot of good news for us Divestiteers. Arabella Advisors released their report on the progress of the movement, and it got a lot of great press. The Toronto Globe and Mail reported on “Divestment Efforts Starting to Hit Coal and Oil Firms,” while the Guardian gave CalPERS and CalSTRS full credit for divesting, although SB 185 only addressed coal holdings.

Meanwhile, it turns out that the oil lobby’s grotesque efforts to defeat SB 350’s gasoline use targets did not give them quite the indemnification they were looking for. As this piece in Capitol Weekly explains, language at the back of the bill requiring extensive development of “transportation electrification” throughout the state will put the electric utilities in direct competition with gasoline. I think we should be describing what’s left of SB 350 as 4/5 of a loaf, not just 2/3. Yum!

So—on to Paris. In the meantime, Fossil Free California is stepping up its efforts to convince municipalities to pass resolutions either asking CalPERS and CalSTRS to “divest the rest” of employees’ retirement funds, or to divest their own pension funds from coal, oil, and gas. If you would like to work on this locally, please let me know. We’ve got all sorts of resources to help (see and ), and a growing pile of studies and reports that make it clear that funds’ most frequently heard argument against divestment—“We think shareholder engagement is more effective”—is simply not holding water.

And we’ll have more developments and opportunities to talk about in the next few weeks. Again, I’m sending you all my heartfelt thanks for your efforts and continuing interest in divestment for California institutions. We’re all very fortunate to be working on this important issue in such an influential state. As we keep working, we can really make a difference.

Janet Cox is Municipal Divestment Campaign Lead for Fossil Free California.