It certainly seems as if New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is doing everything he can to attract the attention of the national Democratic Party. (Particularly for a guy who will only say, “I’m running for Governor” when asked if he plans to run for President in 2020.) This week brought us his latest major announcement, obviously designed to solidify his liberal bona fides with the far left. The Governor’s office put out a statement calling for the state’s massive pension fund to be fully divested from fossil fuels.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today unveiled the 9th proposal of the 2018 State of the State: a plan for divesting the New York State Common Retirement Fund from significant fossil fuel investments. Specifically, this proposal calls for the following:
- Ceasing all new investments in entities with significant fossil fuel-related activities; and
- Governor Cuomo and Comptroller DiNapoli will work together to create an advisory committee of financial, economic, scientific, business and workforce representatives as a resource for the Common Retirement Fund to develop a de-carbonization roadmap to invest in opportunities to combat climate change and support the clean tech economy while assessing financial risks and protecting the Fund.
If you were following that announcement closely, you noticed that Cuomo mentions his Comptroller, Tom DiNapoli. He’s the guy in charge of running the pension fund. That makes sense, obviously, since DiNapoli would have to implement the plan. There’s only one problem. It seems that nobody told the Comptroller about this announcement because he almost immediately reminded everyone that they’ve looked at such plans in the past and they don’t work. Also, he has “no plans” to divest the fund. (Divestment Facts)
New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli — – the office in charge of running the state pension fund on behalf of over 1 million New Yorkers — responded last night to divestment calls from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo this week, once again noting that he does not have plans to divest…
In his response, Comptroller DiNapoli emphasizes the fund has “no immediate plans to divest our energy holdings” and instead that the fund has “shown that shareholders have the power to compel major corporations” through its engagement, something divesting would make impossible to pursue.
DiNapoli also pointed out the fund’s proactive efforts to invest in sustainable investments and look for companies that are committed to reducing their emissions, a much better path than divesting and merely removing oneself from investments and having no impact on the environment or targeted companies.
So the Governor launched an announcement about how he was going to be working with the Comptroller to divest the pension fund. And the very same night the Comptroller had to put out a statement saying that wasn’t going to happen. This is like a Christmas present you never expected that shows up under your tree just at the right time.
The line being taken by the Comptroller is almost identical to the ones used by universities facing calls for fossil fuel divestment by student groups. The energy sector investments are simply too profitable and reliable to abandon. To assuage hurt feelings, they argue that by staying invested they “have a voice” in the conversation at the energy companies. But who are we kidding here? Is anyone investing in Chevron and collecting dividends off of their sizable profits really in there arguing that they should stop dealing in oil and gas? Pull the other one, sir… its got bells on it.
The bigger point here is that this is yet another embarrassing #Fail for the aspiring Democratic contender for the 2020 nomination. Cuomo’s office has been rolling out all of these “State of the State” planning items for a while now. This wasn’t some off-the-cuff comment during a presser. They had a whole website set up to promote the announcement. You’d think that somebody might have found a moment to call up Tom DiNapoli and say, “oh, by the way. We’re announcing that you’ll be divesting the pension fund from the energy sector.”
Had they done so, he might have been able to talk them down off the ledge and avoid this spectacular failure in executive leadership. But hey… if you Democrats want to nominate this guy, please feel free. I’ll probably even send him a donation at this point just to watch the circus unfold.