We will deliver the below letter, with the list of supportive current and retired educators, at the next PSERS board meeting on December 7, 2016.
Dear Pennsylvania Educator,
Did you know that PSERS is heavily invested in oil and gas holdings? These are the same companies responsible for some of the worst environmental disasters of the last century and for violating indigenous rights in North Dakota. These companies have also become a bad investment for our retirement dollars.(1)
As Pennsylvania’s educators and PSERS contributors we are moved to take immediate action and call for PSERS to divest from oil and gas companies.
2016 is expected to eclipse 2015 as the hottest year on record. At the same time oil and gas pipelines, fracking wells, and refineries increase asthma rates for our kids and pollute our communities. New evidence shows that oil and gas companies, particularly Exxon, have known for years that burning fossil fuels negatively impact climate and human health. And yet they keep drilling.
The connection between climate change and the continued extraction and burning of fossil fuels is irrefutable, yet 29 of the top 32 holdings in the PSERS retirement plan are with these companies.(2) One of them, Energy Transfer Partners, has been cited for brutal treatment of Standing Rock Sioux members protecting sacred burial grounds and local water supplies from the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline. In Pennsylvania, Energy Transfer Partners and other companies are involved in massive pipeline build-outs to move gas to shipping ports. Sunoco Logistics, which just announced a plan to merge with Energy Transfer Partners, is involved in several fossil fuel projects that are hurting Pennsylvania families. The corporation is using the power of eminent domain to take Pennsylvanians’ land in building its Mariner East Pipeline project across the state.
PSERS has a fiduciary responsibility to invest prudently and maximize returns to ensure a healthy pension system. However, the PSERS portfolio can create healthy returns without relying on companies that profit from fossil fuels.(3)
Universities, cities, and pension funds including the Boston Teachers Union, the Unified Teachers of LA and the California Federation of Teachers have divested, or are in the process of divesting approximately $3.4 trillion from fossil fuel related funds. (4)
Every day, as educators we shape the future by inspiring children to be responsible citizens. Let’s be role models and act responsibly with our pension investments. Tell the PSERS Board to divest from fossil fuels by signing this petition. We can be leaders in the fight for renewables and the move away from fossil fuels. Let’s put our money where our values are.
Teachers and Retirees for PSERS to Divest from Fossil Fuels
1 - http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20160312_Pennsylvania_school_pension_system_lost_money_in_2015.html
3 - http://app.greenamerica.org/fossil-free/
4 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fossil_fuel_divestment#Groups_involved_in_divestment_campaigns