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Friday, March 1, 2013

Ventura County Dems first in nation to call for divestment of fossil-fuel companies by UC, CalPERS, among others

On February 26, 2013, the Ventura County Democratic Party Central Committee passed a first-in-the-nation resolution calling for divestment of fossil fuel companies by the University of California, California State University, CalPERS, CalSTRS, and Ventura County Employees Retirement Association. 

In doing so, Ventura County Democrats have aligned themselves with  and the Fossil Free movement now at 250 colleges. While a number of college student bodies have passed divestment resolutions, it’s believed that the Ventura County resolution is the first in the country to be passed by a diverse group of people elected by voters at large. 

Ventura County is home to oil drilling operations and is generally more conservative than Los Angeles to the south. Nevertheless, the resolution passed on a nearly unanimous vote, illustrating the representatives’ concerns. Climate change will wreak havoc on Ventura County – at a very possible 2 feet of sea level rise, Port Hueneme loses 18% of its land and 10% of its homes.

RL Miller, author of the resolution, states: “I drafted this to send a message to the fossil fuel companies: we will not participate in our own destruction.” Miller intends to submit the resolution to the California Democratic Party in time for its convention in April. The resolution reads in full:

Resolution in Support of Divestment from Fossil Fuel Companies

WHEREAS, almost every government in the world has agreed that any warming above a 2 °C (3.6 °F) rise would be unsafe. We have already raised the temperature 0.8 °C, and that has caused far more damage than most scientists expected. A third of summer sea ice in the Arctic is gone, the oceans are 30% more acidic, and since warm air holds more water vapor than cold, consequences of inaction will result in devastating floods and drought;

WHEREAS, scientists estimate that humans can pour roughly 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and still have some reasonable hope of staying below two degrees, while proven coal, oil, and gas reserves equals about 2,795 gigatons of CO2, or five times the amount we can release to maintain 2 degrees of warming;

and WHEREAS, California’s institutions of higher education and pension funds should encourage only those investments that allow students and retirees to live healthy lives without the impact of a warming planet, and thus campaigns to divest from fossil fuels have begun at campuses within both the University of California and California State University systems;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Ventura County Democratic Party calls upon the University of California and California State University endowments, and CALPERS, CALSTRS, and Ventura County Employees Retirement Account pension funds to immediately stop new investments in fossil fuel companies, to take steps to divest all holdings from the top 200 fossil fuel companies as determined by the Carbon Tracker list within five years, and to release updates available to the public, detailing progress made toward full divestment;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Ventura County Democratic Party send a copy of this resolution to the Governor of the State of California, Board of Regents of the University of California, Chancellor of the California State University system, United States Senators representing California, Members of Congress representing any part of Ventura County, members of the state senate and state assembly representing any part of Ventura County, and all members of the Ventura County Board of Supervisors, asking support for divestment from fossil fuels.

Submitted by RLMiller 2/14/2013; Revised 2/21/2013

Passed Ventura County Democratic Party Central Committee 2/26/2013

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