A New Low In Posturing Over Climate Change
Of all New York politicians’ efforts to posture on climate change, the drive to divest public pension funds from fossil fuels may be the most deranged.
The bill from state Sen. Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan) and Assemblyman Felix Ortiz (D-B’klyn) would force state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli to sell off all the fund’s holdings in the 200 largest oil, gas and coal companies within five years.
The unions whose members’ retirements depend on the funds are against it. A union-funded report found that the fossil-fuel holdings outperform their green-energy counterparts in the long term.
Also in opposition is DiNapoli, who notes that “manipulation by legislative fiat has hurt pension funds in other states.”
The pension fund pays more than $1 billion a month in benefits. With an unaudited value of $210.2 billion, it now has about $6 billion in fossil-fuel stocks.
Diversification of investments is central to fiscal prudence: Let politicians start banning any given stock, and you’re well on the road to requiring a massive taxpayer bailout — and/or huge cuts to the pensions of some classes of retirees.
Thankfully, New York courts have struck down past legislative efforts to mandate specific investment decisions: The state Constitution protects the comptroller’s discretion.
But that’s no guarantee that the principle will survive the climate-change zealots. After all, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has called on the state authorities he controls (the MTA, the New York Power Authority, the Thruway Authority) to divest from fossil fuels.
All that magical thinking about fighting climate change just might persuade state judges. And DiNapoli is surely worried that, if he goes to court over the issue, he’ll face a challenger in the next election who’ll promise to do as the green extremists demand.
Sensible lawmakers need to quash this nonsense before it goes any further.
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