Rockefellers Now Spurn Oil, That Thing That Made Them Rich

Posted: Sep 23, 2014 7:00 PM

The heirs of John D. Rockefeller, the man who became a tycoon after tapping natural resources and founding Standard Oil, are now divesting their family fund of all oil and fossil fuel stocks. The Rockefeller Brothers Fund is a philanthropic organization with a net worth of more than $800 million.

According to the New York Times:

The fund has already eliminated investments involved in coal and tar sands entirely while increasing its investment in alternate energy sources.

Unwinding other investments in a complex portfolio from the broader realm of fossil fuels will take longer. “We’re moving soberly, but with real commitment,” he said.

Steven Rockefeller, a son of Nelson A. Rockefeller and a trustee of the fund, said that he foresees financial problems ahead for companies that have stockpiled more reserves than they can burn without contributing significantly to climate damage. “We see this as having both a moral and economic dimension,” he said.

The announcement Monday strategically preceded the United Nations climate change summit meeting held Tuesday in New York City.

So the real question is: would their great-great-granddaddy roll over in his grave? Wayne Rockefeller, a descendant on the board of trustees, says ‘no.’ In fact, she believes John D. Rockefeller would have done the same thing were he alive today:

“This is part of a natural progression for us,” said Wayne, who marched Sunday with her three children in the pre-summit demonstration in New York.

Wayne said she felt certain that her famous ancestor would approve. In their lifetimes, both the Standard Oil founder and his son, the philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr., were ardent supporters of conservation causes, purchasing huge swaths of ranch land and donating them to the federal government to create some of America’s first wilderness preserves for future generations to enjoy.

If the elder Rockefeller were alive today, she said, he would be “investing in alternative energy sources and renewables right now.”