- Associated Press - Monday, January 13, 2014

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) - The Eugene City Council will consider how it could quit investing indirectly in oil, gas and coal companies.

Environmentalists have urged the city to undertake a strategy of divesting public money from companies such as Chevron, ExxonMobil and Peabody Energy, the Register-Guard (https://bit.ly/1dpQtLq) reported.

Until it needs to spend it, the city puts revenue in a state-sponsored pool, as do other local governments. State law doesn’t allow cities to own stock in individual companies.

As of the end of December the city had about $37 million in the pool, and based on the pool’s holdings, about half a million of that is likely invested in oil, gas and coal companies, Finance Director Sue Cutsogeorge said.

Mayor Kitty Piercy said the council will discuss divestment as part of an environmental strategy that also includes making sure glass put out for recycling doesn’t end up in landfills and reducing the city’s carbon footprint.

“It just keeps us moving down the road of the goals that we have already set,” Piercy said.

Environmental groups such as the Mayors Innovation Project and 350.org have campaigned for divestment, modeling it on the movement that pressured corporations during the 1980s to stop doing business in South Africa.

“We are making the moral case that these companies are profiting off the destruction of the planet, and we, as citizens, and public institutions, should not benefit or profit from that destruction,” said James Irwin, a senior associate at The Mayors Innovation Project, a University of Wisconsin think tank and adviser to the divestment effort.

Cutsogeorge said alternate investment options such as corporate bonds, CDs and banks “would be more risky, would provide less liquidity and would offer much lower yields.”

Besides, she told the Register-Guard, there’s no guarantee that city money invested in banks wouldn’t be loaned to corporations such as oil companies.

Irwin said governments have a growing number of environmentally conscious investment opportunities.


Information from: The Register-Guard, https://www.registerguard.com

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