Cooper blocks CALPERS fossil fuel divestiture bill, draws the wrath of Youth Apocalypse

  Even though California Assemblymember Jim Cooper (D - Elk Grove) will be Sacramento's new Sheriff in coming months, his presence is st...


 

Even though California Assemblymember Jim Cooper (D - Elk Grove) will be Sacramento's new Sheriff in coming months, his presence is still being felt in the California Assembly.

Yesterday Cooper as Chair of the Assembly Public Employee and Retirement Committee prevented a hearing on Senate Bill 1173. That legislation would have prevented CALPERS and CalSTRS, the two largest public employee pension funds, from making or renewing investments in fossil fuel companies such as Chevron on Exxon Mobil. 

In a statement issued yesterday Cooper said he opposed any divestitures by the public retirement funds that would negatively affect returns for recipients. 

"With a looming recession, the Legislature should be looking at ways to protect the solvency of our pension systems, and should not be considering any proposals that negatively affect them," Cooper said in the statement. "More importantly, political divestment decisions jeopardize the overall financial solvency of their pension systems. Any decisions relating to pension system investment strategies should be made based on sound financial decisions not political ones."

Cooper's decision to hold the bill drew strong criticism from groups like Youth Apocalypse who noted Cooper has received substantial donation from fossil fuel companies. In a press release issued this morning, the group claims Cooper has received $218,816 in donations from fossil fuel companies.

Their statement noted "This decision is a moral failure that disproportionately impacts young people, Indigenous communities, communities of color, and low-income communities. Climate chaos has already cost California billions in damages and health costs from fossil fuel pollution and climate disasters. Jim Cooper, who has just been elected Sacramento County Sheriff, has reported $36,350 in Big Oil campaign contributions from this election season alone."

The bill's sponsor Sen. Lena Gonzalez (D - Long Beach) express disappointment but said she remains committed to the legislation. 

I remain committed to the necessary and ongoing fight against the impacts of climate change on our state, and especially those communities in my district that are disproportionately impacted by the negative effects of the climate crisis,” Gonzalez said. “Teachers and state employees whose retirement futures are invested by our state’s pension funds have long demanded that CalPERS and CalSTRS cease investing their money in fossil fuel companies, and this demand will only grow stronger and louder."  

 

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