Campaign Calls for New York State Retirement Fund to Divest from Massey Energy

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Topics: Coal, Finance

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Massey CEO Don Blankenship, image from ABC

Here’s a guest post from “NY for Appalachia Rising”, who are calling for their state retirement fund to divest from Massey Energy:

What can you buy with $15 million dollars? A blog, for one. Banking blog Bankaholic sold for that amount to a company called PadContent in 2008. An email: 15 million was the quote in 2008 for a single email written by Sarah Palin while in state office. Not impressed? How about a Beverly Hills eco-mansion? Jennifer Anniston paid 15 million in 2006 for hers. As silly as these investments seem, they’re relatively harmless. You’d still rather see your money put toward any of them than toward 306,000 shares of Massey Energy, the anti-union employer of 29 miners murdered in an underground explosion last April and the company responsible for more mountaintop removal mining than any other coal operator. That 15 million makes up less than 1/100th of a percent of New York State Common Retirement Fund’s approximately 126 billion in assets. But the small percentage the shares represent does not diminish the sin of their holding. Recent articles have called for a charge of manslaughter for Don Blankenship, owner of Massey Energy, for the lives of the miners lost in the Upper Big Branch Mine. If there were a law – and maybe one day there will be – he would also be charged with the murder of hundreds of mountains.

Even one share held in a company as ethically bankrupt as Massey is too many. What then is 306,000? The value for a given commodity, like coal, can change overnight, but mountains should be forever and human lives are priceless. By divesting from Massey Energy, New York State could lead the way in a chain reaction of divestments that could lasso and take down the corrupt and dirty giant that is Massey Energy.

A coalition of New York mountaintop removal activists have come together to initiate a campaign asking New York State Common Retirement Fund to divest from Massey Energy. This divestment would be a tangible victory setting a precedent for environmentally and socially ethical investment in New York and beyond. While the organizers recognize that Massey is not the only environmentally destructive or ethically corrupt company in which NY State invests, it is arguably the worst. How about putting that $15 million toward a few hundred thousand shares in wind energy instead? An investment to ensure a good retirement should also be an investment in the future, not fuel to the fire of those who damn it.

You can sign their petition here

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