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Hundreds Rally In Sacramento To Tell California: #DivestDAPL

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CalPERS Investment Committee Drops Plan To Oppose Dakota Access Pipeline Divestment
Fifty Members of Public Testify For Indigenous Rights and Climate Justice at Meeting; Over 50,000 Signatures Delivered

Sacramento, Calif. — Hundreds of climate justice activists mobilized by a broad coalition of indigenous rights, environmental, and progressive organizations rallied today at the Sacramento headquarters of the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) to call on the pension fund to divest its multi-million-dollar holdings in the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).

Climate Hawks Vote, the California League of Conservation Voters, Fossil Free California, Courage Campaign, Daily Kos, Friends of the Earth, Green For All, Idle No More, Indigenous Environmental Network, Oakland Citywide Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan, People Demanding Action, and other allies organized a rally and public comment in support of divestment.

Over 52,000 signatures in support of divestment from DAPL were delivered to the CalPERS board: 32,887 from Climate Hawks Vote members, 15,632 from California League of Conservation Voters members, 4,030 from Fossil Free California members, and 396 collected by Oakland City Councillor Rebecca Kaplan.

In the days before the meeting, hundreds of Climate Hawks Vote members phoned and emailed the board members and CalPERS staff, asking them to support divestment.

Sitting before a packed room of activists, the committee tabled a planned vote on whether to support divestment from the Trump-approved Dakota Access Pipeline. The staff recommendation had been to oppose divestment. Instead the committee decided continue discussions with Ash Kalra, the state legislator who has written AB 20, legislation which would mandate CalPERS divest from Energy Transfer Partners and companies involved in the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. CalPERS holds over 1.1 million shares of Energy Transfer Partners, the company constructing the pipeline.

“Personally I think that the Dakota Access Pipeline is highly problematic and it represents a failed vision for meeting our society’s needs for sustainability, energy, and health,” CalPERS board member Theresa Taylor stated, supporting the decision for further investigation. “CalPERS needs to make sure as we look at bills like this that have a huge impact on our climate, when we talk about our fiduciary duty, that we are including our environmental, social and governance program in that. “

Following the board decision, fifty members of the public, including tribal activists, environmental organizers, elected officials, and CalPERS beneficiaries, testified to the committee about the importance of respecting indigenous rights and protecting the climate from the exploitative and unsustainable fossil-fuel industry.

“I implore you to think of the children that you love, and what you will be leaving them by continuing to support DAPL and other fossil fuel projects. If you do, and I pray that you don’t, but if you do, you will be responsible for the potential ill health, deaths, and damage to the sacred system of life that we need to exist,” Pennie Opal Plant, of the Indigenous Environmental Network and Idle No More SF Bay, testified. “You need to stand up with us because once they come for our water, they are going to come for this water too! It is one water, one air and one soil! So join me and my relatives, because we truly are all related.”

“This is my retirement money I am speaking to about today. I personally traveled to Standing Rock in November to support the water protectors. So I have seen with my own eyes the brutality that was done against young people, primarily Native American people who are seeking to defend the water,” Oakland City Councillor Rebecca Kaplan testified. “We as Californians have been lifting up voices and debating how we can be an alternative as the U.S. EPA essentially disappears, how do we continue to defend land and water? How do we stand up for social justice? And one of the ways we do it is with our money. We can put our money where our mouth is.”

Climate Hawks Vote President RL Miller issued the following statement:

“CalPERS needs to invest according to California’s values — climate leadership, respect for indigenous people, and respect for the rule of law. The Trump-backed Dakota Access Pipeline is the exact opposite of everything that California stands for. I’m here representing the 30,000 members of Climate Hawks Vote from around the nation who oppose the pipeline. We understand that it is our job to hold John Chiang, Betty Yee, and the other board members of CalPERS accountable to the public interest.”

After the meeting, Andy Kelley, Communications Director for the California League of Conservation Voters, said:

“The decision by the CalPERS Board to delay today’s vote and reach out to Assemblymember Kalra is a good step forward. California is leading the nation and the world in the fight against climate change and for a clean energy economy. We shouldn’t be investing in dirty oil pipelines to fund our future; but rather, we should invest in the green economy we are building here in California.”

A full transcript of the DAPL agenda item discussion and testimony can be seen here.

Photos from the rally and meeting can be seen here.

Download the national organizational sign-on support letter.

Download comments submitted by  comments submitted by Climate Hawks Vote members to CalPERS.

Paid for in part by Climate Hawks Vote Political Action. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.

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