Tlaib Introduces Legislation Making Fossil Fuel Divestment Possible for Federal Employees
WASHINGTON—Today, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (MI-13) introduced the Retirement Investments for a Sustainable Economy (RISE) Act of 2020, which gives federal employees the ability to divest from the fossil fuel industry to fight climate change—and reduce the financial liability of fossil fuel asset losses—by offering a Climate Choice investment option for the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP). It is the House companion bill to the version Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced last May.
The TSP offers federal employees’ tax-deferred retirement savings and investment opportunities, similar to the benefits many private corporations offer their employees under 401(k) plans, but does not offer them any control over the types of industries in which their money is invested. As of December 2018, it has approximately 5.5 million participants with about $580 billion in assets, making it the largest defined contribution plan in the world. Other countries, governments, central banks, universities, and companies around the world, meanwhile, have recognized the need to rapidly divest from fossil fuel assets in order to avert the worst consequences of climate chaos. The RISE Act would finally provide for a Climate Choice stock option under the TSP for federal employees that is free from investment in fossil fuel companies, giving federal employees the flexibility and freedom to choose a more sustainable, socially responsible investment portfolio.
“Federal employees who have honorably dedicated themselves to public service deserve to have the option of divesting from corporate polluters that put their profits ahead of our planet’s future and our public health, so that they can rest easier that their retirement investments are socially responsible,” Congresswoman Tlaib said. “It is an honor to introduce this House version of Senator Merkley’s bill and I look forward to working together to build momentum around this legislation and see it made into law.”
“Federal employees who have honorably dedicated themselves to public service deserve to have the option of divesting from corporate polluters that we have seen callously engage in public disservice time and again, endangering the lives of people and our planet in the name of profit,” Congresswoman Tlaib said. “It is an honor to introduce this House version of Senator Merkley’s bill and I look forward to working together to build momentum around this legislation and see it made into law.”
“Americans are seeing the growing climate crisis driving catastrophic wildfires, deadly storms and hurricanes, and devastating droughts, and lots of people don’t want to wait around for these risks to grow,” Senator Merkley said. “If people want to get their money out of the industry driving climate chaos, they should be able to. It’s time for Congress to give millions of federal employees the power to ensure their retirement funds are invested in a less risky and more sustainable, socially responsible portfolio.”
The RISE Act has been endorsed by the following environmental justice organizations who have been on the front lines of fighting for fossil fuel divestment and other climate change initiatives: Sierra Club, Stop The Money Pipeline, Oil Change International, Food and Water Watch, 350.org, Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), Zero Hour, Catholic Network US, Rapid Shift Network, Call to Action Colorado, Climate Hawks Vote, Mazaska Talks, Giniw Collective, Earth Guardians, 350 Humboldt, Texas Campaign for the Environment.
“When federal employees save for their futures, they shouldn't be forced to support the fossil fuel industry and fuel the climate crisis in the process,” Director of the Sierra Club's Beyond Dirty Fuels campaign Kelly Martin said. “The Sierra Club applauds Representative Tlaib for her leadership in giving workers more flexibility to align their investments with their values.”
"Given that the fossil fuel industry has underperformed the market for more than a decade, divesting from fossil fuels is not only good for the planet, but it's also good for our pocketbooks," Stop the Money Pipeline Coalition Coordinator Alec Connon said. “Put simply, the RISE Act is a common-sense policy that will give federal employees the opportunity to both save a buck and save the planet.”
“Divestment from fossil fuels is the only way that my generation will have a retirement to look forward to decades from now,” Zero Hour Co-Founder and Director of Policy Zanagee Artis said. “The RISE Act of 2020 provides an opportunity for a livable future and economic returns, which is why Zero Hour is excited to endorse this bill.”
The full text of the bill can be found here.