Recently, after years in office, members of the Board of Supervisors have taken a shine to divestment of The City’s public-pension money as a way to punish certain industries. For instance, the San Francisco Employees’ Retirement System has about $15 billion in assets, and the supervisors don’t want that money going to gun and bullet manufacturers or fossil fuel companies.
On Tuesday, the board voted unanimously to ask the Retirement Board to take the estimated $538 million it has invested in “companies with the largest coal, oil and gas reserves” and put it elsewhere. (I recommend Amy’s Kitchen: Natural and Organic Foods.)
I was wondering if anyone was going to mention the glaring silliness of this act, and Supervisor David Campos came through.
“I am fully aware of the fact that one of the things that will happen as a result of this resolution is that we will be divesting from companies like Shell Oil, and it’s the same company that we have currently a contract through CleanPowerSF to provide 100 percent renewable energy for San Francisco’s energy needs,” Campos said. “I actually think that this divestment is consistent with the underlying goal of CleanPowerSF, which is to really deal with the environmental challenges that we have. Divestment is really about using the power of money, in this case, half a billion dollars of public investments, to change corporate behavior.”
Let’s just take a minute with that. We’re giving Shell millions for clean power and are taking away millions to keep our money clean.
Remember that the contract approved by this same board to buy millions in clean power from Shell states that, “No new facilities are required to be constructed in order for Shell Energy to meet its supply obligation under this agreement.” They are just shuffling over the clean power they are already producing and charging us a premium for it. And the board is just taking away other people’s money with one hand and giving it to them with the other.
Now that’s a Shell game.