Andy Kelley, California League of Conservation Voters, 510-844-0229, firstname.lastname@example.org
Citing reputational risk and “extreme controversy,” the California Public Employees’ Pension System (CalPERS) and a raft of institutional investors are urging banks funding the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) to back the Standing Rock Sioux demand that the pipeline be rerouted to avoid tribal lands and water supply.
The announcement follows an extraordinary CalPERs board meeting on Monday, where more than 40 fund members, tribal representatives, and mobilized Californians addressed riveted board members for nearly two hours. Climate Hawks Vote, Fossil Free California, and the California League of Conservation Voters have collected more than 53,000 signatures on petitions asking CalPERS to divest from DAPL. The Trump Administration has issued an executive order terminating the Army Corps of Engineers Environmental Impact Statement process, which was ordered under President Obama in December of last year.
“The right to access clean, safe drinking water is fundamental, and our public funds should not help build a dirty oil pipeline that endangers communities along its route,” said Andy Kelley of the California League of Conservation Voters. “The push by CalPERS to reroute the pipeline is a welcome development. We must make sure that if the pipeline is rerouted its new pathway undergoes a full environmental review before construction resumes.”
Janet Cox of Fossil Free California noted that the statement by investors stops short of divesting from Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), builders of the pipeline. “This is an interesting test for CalPERS’ vaunted preference for ‘engagement’ with companies it disagrees with, over divestment. If the banks pay attention to these big investors and are successful in urging ETP to change the pipeline’s route, that will score one for very specifically targeted shareholder engagement,” she said.
CalPERs is the largest public pension fund in the U.S., with $300 billion in assets. All together, the financial managers, health care companies, philanthropies, and faith denominations that signed today’s letter have $653 billion under management.