The State Worker

California congressmen to CalPERS: Dump ExxonMobil stocks

The ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance, Calif. California Reps. Ted Lieu and Mark DeSaulnier have encouraged CalPERS to divest its $1 billion worth of shares in the company.
The ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance, Calif. California Reps. Ted Lieu and Mark DeSaulnier have encouraged CalPERS to divest its $1 billion worth of shares in the company. AP

Two California congressmen want California to sell its holdings in ExxonMobil, because, they say, investing in the oil company is “morally suspect” in light of climate change.

Rep. Ted Lieu and Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, both Democrats, sent a letter to the California Public Employees’ Retirement System on Wednesday that repeats allegations that ExxonMobil for decades hid its knowledge that fossil fuel emissions contribute to global warming “while privately planning for the effects of climate change.”

The letter to CalPERS’ outgoing CEO Anne Stausbol cites stories by the Los Angeles Times and InsideClimate News as proof the company misled investors and the public.

$1 billionValue of CalPERS ExxonMobil holdings as of June 30, 2015

ExxonMobil referred The Bee to an online statement refuting the allegations as “politically motivated” and “discredited reporting funded by activist organizations.”

Lieu and DeSaulnier encouraged CalPERS to follow examples set by the University of California’s pension fund and the Rockefeller Family Fund, which have sold or are selling off fossil-fuel holdings. The public nonprofit was established by the descendants of oil magnate John D. Rockefeller.

CalPERS spokeswoman Rosanna Westmoreland said that shedding its $1 billion in ExxonMobil stocks would thwart its commitment to fighting climate change.

“Maintaining our shares provides us with a seat at the table,” Westmoreland said, “and the opportunity to influence important issues.”

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