The COAL Act clears first hurdle in Oregon legislature

A bill that would divest Oregon from coal passed out of committee on Thursday.

Oregon State Capitol
M.O. Stevens | Public Domain

As climate change accelerates, impacting us here in Oregon and across the globe, we have a responsibility to do everything we can to drive down climate pollution and build a cleaner, greener future. The fossil fuel industry is more responsible than any other for destabilizing the climate, so a major step we need to take to mitigate climate change is to revoke the fossil fuel industry’s “social license” to operate as usual. 

That’s why Environment Oregon and OSPIRG are supporting House Bill 4083, which would direct the Treasury to phase out publicly traded investments in coal, halt all new investments in coal and report on the phase out. 

A growing number of investors, including large institutions, have become keenly aware of the clash between the fossil fuel industry’s business model and the actions scientists say are necessary to avoid catastrophic climate change. This awareness has given rise to the fossil fuel divestment movement, and it’s time for the State of Oregon to join in.

A big step on the road to divestment is for the Treasury to divest from coal. Coal is no longer a good investment. Since California began removing coal from its CalPers portfolio, it has gained an estimated $598 million in returns. Oregon, on the other hand, has foregone $340 million in returns, according to an analysis by Divest Oregon. 

Our investments reflect our priorities, needs and values. Coal is damaging to the environment, climate, and public health and the state of Oregon should no longer invest in it.

House Bill 4083 passed out of the House Committee on Emergency Management, General Government, and Veterans on Thursday with a vote of 4-3. The bill now heads to the House floor.

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