FFCA First of its kind Mapping Tool: Thousands of oil wells across California are funded by CalPERs and CalSTRS

Fossil Free California Unveiling new Mapping Tool 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contacts: Luis Angel Martinez | Fossil Free California | luis@fossilfreeca.org | (424)338-0534

Today we are unveiling a mapping tool that was produced by our research team at Fossil Free California. It is an incredible tool that allows us all to see a reality that working and low-income communities on the frontlines of fossil fuel impacts have known for decades in the State of California. Namely that the fossil fuel industry leverages its political power to enforce its presence while making public institutions their partners in the demise of the planet and marginalized neighborhoods.  

One of those institutions is the public pension system, CalPERS and CalSTRS have collectively invested over $14 billion dollars in fossil fuel corporations that build oil pipelines and fracked gas wells in communities where their pensioners live, work, and teach in. All while risking the dollars of the workers who receive retirement benefits from them, studies have shown that both pensions lost nearly $10 billion dollars combined by not divesting between 2012 and 2022, which continues the trend reported on by Corporate Knights in 2019, that showed that CalPERS and CalSTRS would have generated an additional $11.9 billion and $5.5 billion respectively by 2019 had they divested in 2009, according to Corporate Knights. This is the equivalent of $6,072 per CalPERS member and $5,752 per CalSTRS member in 10 years. Further studies show that divestment has a neutral to positive impact on funds’ returns, and that the transaction costs of divesting fossil fuels are small

With all of this considered, CalPERS and CalSTRS continue to dismiss the call for fossil fuel divestment by arguing that divesting from fossil fuels would betray their fiduciary duty. In reality, the financial losses that they have suffered as a result of not divesting from a polluter and risky industry has shown the opposite, a failure in fulfilling their fiduciary duty. 

Our mapping tool presents this reality visually so that we cannot turn away from or deny it. There are over 96,000 oil wells that are either active, idle, or plugged that are under the financial portfolios of CalPERS and CalSTRS. Type any address, city name, or zip code into the search bar of our mapping tool and it will take you directly to that area. There are layers that you could add or take away such as the well type and assembly districts. An enlightening layer you could add are school sites and a 3200 ft buffer zone. It turns out that many of these wells are within 3200 ft of communities, subjecting many schools and frontline neighborhoods to poor air quality conditions that contribute to negative health impacts such as asthma, bloody noses, headaches, cancer, birth defects, and more. 

Luis Martinez (he/him) Campaigns Organizer at Fossil Free California said:

“Being from a community on the frontlines of fossil fuel impacts in Wilmington, CA, I typed in my zip code in our mapping tool search bar and found that there are multiple active and idle oil wells under the CalPERS and CalSTRS portfolio that lie at the edge of my community near the Port of Los Angeles. This is a shocking reality because the school sites layer and the 3200 ft buffer layer revealed that these oil wells are within 3200 ft of residential streets, homes and two elementary schools- one of which I attended as a child. This is in a community that is already heavily impacted by the fossil fuel industry due to hundreds of wells peppered throughout the neighborhood and that is surrounded by five refineries. It is also a public school town whose teachers live in the neighborhood and have also experienced impacts from these wells and cumulative impacts from our changing climate. Yet the biggest teacher and worker pensions in the state continue to fund this industry where CalSTRS teachers live and teach in, and where CalPERS workers live and work in, this is unacceptable.”

We are calling on CalPERS and CalSTRS beneficiaries and teachers who live in communities on the frontlines of oil drilling to visit our map and to learn if there are wells in your neighborhood that are funded by CalPERS and CalSTRS. Under our mapping tool you can find a letter that you could submit to your assembly member to support SB252 that would require CalPERS and CalSTRS to divest their holdings out of the fossil fuel industry by 2030. Fossil fuel Divestment is a movement consisting of workers, teachers, youth, faith communities, and frontline communities who are invested in achieving justice for workers, frontline communities and the planet through the passing of SB252. We have created coalitions and alliances that are multi-racial, multi-generational and multi-community based, of folks who stand up to the fossil fuel industry and their pensions by saying, “no more fossil fuel funding from our pensions”!