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‘Climate Strike’ Students Demand Fossil Fuel Divestment from CalSTRS
by Dan Bacher
Tuesday May 7th, 2019 8:31 PM
“When you become a teacher, you sign up to not only care for children, but to educate the future leaders of society,” said 12 year-old Samantha of Youth vs Apocalypse. “To find out that the people I have spent most of my life with are funding to pour toxins into my future is a real slap to the face. It’s a message telling the youth that you don’t really care for our future, and it contradicts exactly what a teacher is.”
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SACRAMENTO – California government is a major supporter of the fossil fuel industry, despite the largely undeserved reputation that the state has acquired as the nation’s “green leader — and students from youth climate organizations want to change this.

Not only did the state’s oil and gas regulators approve 21,000 new oil and gas drilling permits in California under Governor Jerry Brown, but one of the state’s pension’s funds, including CalSTRS, California’s $228 billion pension fund for public school teachers, is invested in fossil fuels.

On May 8, students from youth climate justice organizations will be skipping school to attend a meeting of the CalSTRS Investment Committee to demand divest from fossil fuel companies, according to Fossil Free California.

CalSTRS, the second-largest pension fund in the United States, currently has over $6 billion (2.86% of its portfolio) invested in fossil fuels.

Youth, parents, teachers, and concerned citizens from cities throughout California will attend the CalSTRS Investment Committee meeting at 100 Waterfront Place, West Sacramento, CA at 10:00 AM, on Wednesday, May 8, 2019.

“When you become a teacher, you sign up to not only care for children, but to educate the future leaders of society,” said 12 year-old Samantha of Youth vs Apocalypse (bit.ly/Youth_Vs_A . “To find out that the people I have spent most of my life with are funding to pour toxins into my future is a real slap to the face. It’s a message telling the youth that you don’t really care for our future, and it contradicts exactly what a teacher is.”

“It’s a message telling me and all other students that we can’t trust the adults who prepare us for the rest of our lives... All I can say is,stop funding to destroy my future,” she said said.

Rio, a 7th grader with the Earth Guardians Bay Area Crew, stated, “I was part of the group of kids that went to Senator Feinstein's office. We went because adults need to take action that treats climate change as the greatest threat to the world. When I learned that teachers' pensions support fossil fuels, I thought it is really ironic and needs to stop; so we will be coming to every meeting until the money is divested.”

“If you cut off the financial support for Big Oil, you ultimately will stop the extraction and burning of the fossil fuels that are frying our planet. That’s why divestment is so important,” said Betsy Thagard, a preschool teacher. “I love my kids, and I worry about their future every single day.”

CalSTRS retiree Jane Vosburg added: “Fossil fuels might have been a blue-chip investment in the 20th century - but today they are highly volatile, and under-performing financially. Retired teachers worked for decades to prepare students for their future; it’s absurd that our pensions are invested in companies that depend on destroying the planet to try to make a profit.”

According to Fossil Free California, “fossil fuels are a bad investment for both youth and retirees; in the last quarter of 2018 the energy sector finished dead last on the S&P 500. For the last seven years, according to the MSCI ACWI ex Fossil Fuels Index, funds that exclude fossil fuels have outperformed those that include fossil fuels. One study asserts that CalSTRS would have been $24.3 billion better off had they divested from fossil fuels ten years ago.”

“When we strike, we're asking our teachers to stand with us and demand CalSTRS divestment - to protect their retirement, and to protect our future,” said Elliot, an 8th grader from Oakland.

Big Oil is the largest and most powerful corporate lobby in Sacramento — and the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) is the largest and most powerful corporate lobbying organization. Chevron, a WSPA member, topped the lobbying spending in the first quarter of 2019 with $2,309,873.67, while the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) placed second with $1,972,990.62.

The millions spent on lobbying by the oil industry every year have allowed them effectively purchase many members of the Legislature, as well as key positions in the regulatory agencies.

The capture of California government by the fossil fuel industry has resulted in only two bills opposed by Big Oil making it through the “green” Legislature in the past three years.

In one of the biggest examples of regulatory capture over the past couple of decades, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association, chaired the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-called “marine protected areas” in Southern California from 2009 to 2012 — in the very same region where her industry was pushing state officials to expand offshore drilling in state waters under Governor Jerry Brown.

While grassroots environmentalists, Tribal leaders, fishermen and public trust advocates opposed allowing a big oil lobbyist to oversee “marine protection” in the state’s offshore oil drilling region, state officials and big environmental NGOs lauded the process as “open, transparent and inclusive” even though it was anything but.

After the “marine protected areas” went into effect in Southern California waters in January 2012, a big expansion of offshore drilling ensued, with over 200 new offshore oil and gas wells approved in Ventura and Los Angeles Counties.

WSPA and Big Oil wield their power and influence over public discourse in 6 major ways: through (1) lobbying; (2) campaign spending; (3) serving on and putting shills on regulatory panels; (4) creating Astroturf groups: (5) working in collaboration with media; and (6) contributing to non profit organizations.

For more information about how Big Oil and WSPA are able in manipulate and deceive in California, go here: http://www.dailykos.com/...

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