- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe wants to fight climate change but not by divesting.

At a recent forum on climate change, Mr. McAuliffe, a Democrat with close and long-standing ties to Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton, said he would not support having Virginia divest its retirement fund and other accounts from fossil fuel companies, despite his commitment to combatting global warming.

“I think they have to make the decision, what is in the best interest of whatever they’re making their investments,” Mr. McAuliffe said at the New Republic forum last month titled “The Next Frontier of Climate Change.”

“They have a fiduciary duty to make those investments, and clearly as governor, I am not going to sit here and tell the people who manage these funds what to do. It’s not my role,” Mr. McAuliffe said. “And I clearly understand my role.”

The governor’s comments were little noticed at the time, but a video of them was posted Wednesday on DivestmentFacts.org, a project of the Independent Petroleum Association of America.

The remarks come amid the climate change movement’s campaign urging institutional investors, including universities, governments and nonprofits, to divest from oil, natural gas and coal.

The Fossil Free campaign launched a petition drive earlier this year calling on the Virginia state legislature to divest the Virginia Retirement System’s holdings from the “top 200 fossil-fuel companies” as identified by Carbon Tracker.

“Their business model is in conflict with life on Earth,” says the petition, which has gathered 117 signatures. “It is unconscionable for the VRS to invest in corporations that threaten the health and welfare of VA’s public employees and all VA residents.”

A strong advocate of green energy, Mr. McAuliffe re-established the state’s Climate Change and Resiliency Update Commission in July. The panel includes former University of Virginia professor Michael Mann, a climate scientist known for the controversial “hockey stick” theory of global warming.

No state has divested its holdings from fossil fuels, although about 30 U.S. cities have “committed to pursue divestment,” according to a list on the Fossil Free website.

At the forum, Mr. McAuliffe described himself as “one of the leaders in the country pushing for clean energy,” but that “it is not my job to come in and tell our businesses what to do.”

“I’m a fiscally conservative, pro-business Democrat. I’m socially very progressive,” Mr. McAuliffe added.

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