Brian Pugh: We Are > Fossil Fuels

To the Editorbrian-pugh-group-cropped

Did you know that scientists at ExxonMobil, the world’s largest oil and gas company,  have been aware of the threat of climate change since 1979?

ExxonMobil acknowledged in research and internal communications that climate change is real and caused by human activity. In contrast to what Exxon knew to be true, two Harvard researchers found that roughly 80 percent of Exxon’s ads expressed doubt about climate change.

Many may not be aware that as taxpayers in New York State we are simultaneously supporting and being victimized by Exxon’s actions.

The Village of Croton, along with its workforce, makes contributions to the New York State Common Retirement Fund (NYS CRF). These funds are then invested and the proceeds of these investments are used to pay for the retirement of current and future government workers.

According to its most recent asset listing, the NYS Common Retirement Fund has over $1 billion invested in ExxonMobil stock and bonds.

Earlier this year, New York’s Attorney General accused ExxonMobil of misleading investors on the impact and risks of climate change. NYS has also joined several other states in setting ambitious greenhouse gas reduction goals.

Why do we continue to invest in firms that are harming the public interest? Investments where our public policy works at cross-purposes?

Indeed, increasingly, investing in fossil fuels doesn’t even make short-term economic sense. In the last fiscal year, the NYS CRF reported 11% returns–meanwhile, ExxonMobil’s stock price actually fell during the same period.

It’s time that we put our money where our mouth is on climate change and demand that the Common Retirement Fund divest from ExxonMobil and other fossil fuel firms. That’s why I support the Village Board taking up the Croton Climate Initiative’s request, submitted in October of 2016, to adopt a resolution calling for the divestment of our pension funds from the fossil fuel sector.

Brian Pugh

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