By: Robert Tuttle – Bloomberg – Maine became the first U.S. state to enact a law requiring divestment from fossil fuels, after Governor Janet Mills signed a measure ordering public funds to jettison investments in coal, petroleum, natural gas, and related products.
The state treasury and the $17 billion public employees’ pension fund must dump any fossil-fuel holdings by 2026, according to the measure signed on Wednesday. The Maine Public Employees Retirement System holds more than $1.3 billion in fossil fuel companies, according to environmental group “Stand.earth”. Holdings as of the first quarter included Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp., with both companies among the fund’s top 30 investments by market value, data posted on its website show.
Public pension plans and college endowments have already stepped up efforts to address their investments in fossil fuels to fight climate change. New York State Common Retirement Fund said it may divest from the riskiest oil and gas companies by 2025, while the University of Southern California’s endowment said it will end its investments in fossil fuels and divest its existing holdings over the next several years. Brown University’s endowment has sold most of its investments in fossil-fuel companies.
While this may be the first measure of its kind it is unlikely that it will be the last.