California coal divestment bill clears committee vote

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 24, 2015 1:58 PM

By Rory Carroll

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A bill to require California's state pension funds Calpers and CalSTRS to sell their investments in companies that generate at least half their revenue from coal mining passed an Assembly committee by a vote of 5-1 on Wednesday.

Pension funds are under pressure from activists to halt investing in fossil fuel for environmental reasons and the vote could increase the momentum for other funds to sell such assets.

Investing in fossil fuels has been a hot-button issue both domestically and internationally.

Norway's parliament voted earlier in June to reduce coal investments by its $880 billion sovereign wealth fund.. In the United States, Stanford University and the University of Maine have made similar moves.

Calpers said it invests in around 20-30 thermal coal mining companies as defined under the bill, valued at $100-200 million. It has investments in coal companies including Peabody Energy and Arch Coal according to its latest investment report.

CalSTRS has holdings of around $40 million, according to spokesman Ricardo Duran. Both Calpers and CalSTRS said they did not have a position for or against the legislation.

(Reporting by Rory Carroll; Editing by Megan Davies and Grant McCool)