Climate justice activists mobilized by a broad coalition of indigenous rights, environmental, and progressive organizations have forced CalPERS, California’s giant public pension system, to disclose how much money they have invested in the builders of the Dakota Access Pipeline. A new internal report says CalPERS has more than $355 million directly invested in DAPL companies.
When public employees invest in their retirement funds, they don’t want to support climate pollution or the destruction of sacred tribal lands. But that’s exactly what’s happening in California.
When we learned that California’s largest pension system had at least $36 million invested in Energy Transfer Partners, which is building the Dakota Access Pipeline, climate hawks delivered more than 50,000 petitions and made hundreds of phone calls asking the board to remove its investments in DAPL. CHV President RL Miller joined over a hundred of our members and allies, including the Indigenous Environmental Network, Fossil-Free California, and Daily Kos, to tell CalPERS to divest at its February board meeting in Sacramento.
This movement effort convinced the board to tell the staff to report back on the fund’s dirty investments.
That’s not all. CalPERS’ March report included something that we can only describe as a lie: “The Standing Rock Sioux tribe supports pipeline construction to foster economic development, energy security and independence.” The truth of the matter is that the Tribe opposes all pipelines cutting through its Treaty territory, including the Dakota Access Pipeline.
The staff report, led by Sustainablity Director Anne Simpson, recommends four courses of action: dialogue with the companies, dialogue with the tribes, engagement with the banks financing the project, and proxy votes. They don’t even consider divestment an option.
Cutting off the money spigot has the potential to scuttle this polluting pipeline forever. The first step is making sure that working families know their elected officials are investing their money to prop up corporations that are destroying our planet.
CalPERS still opposes our demand to divest from corporate backers of DAPL — but we’re not going to stop.
Last month, after hearing from the climate justice movement, CalPERS blinked a little bit — CalPERS and other investors wrote a letter asking the pipeline builders to reroute it away from sacred lands. But the pipeline is too close to completion for one sternly worded letter to make a difference. The only way to get California retirees from unwittingly fueling planetary destruction is for CalPERS to divest from the pipeline entirely.
Our message to California Treasurer John Chiang, Controller Betty Yee, and the other officials in charge of CalPERS is very clear: It’s immoral and unjust to fund the destruction of our planet and the sacrifice of sacred tribal lands.
We’re going to keep hammering away until we win.