It probably won’t bring supporters of the Keystone Pipeline XL to their knees, but San Francisco State University (SFSU) has joined a growing number of schools in the country that won’t invest money in coal and tar sands companies.
The school announced on Tuesday that its foundation, with assets of $51.2 million, voted in May to also consider pulling all its investments in fossil fuels. The foundation’s 2011-12 annual report (pdf) does not detail the school’s individual investments, but its investment policy (pdf) allows it great latitude in making selections.
The foundation already operates with certain restrictions. It does not “invest knowingly in countries or companies whose governing regimes are deemed by the Foundation’s Board of Directors to deny civil or human rights.” The foundation also does not directly invest in stocks of tobacco companies, but with an important caveat that suggests it does, indeed, invest in tobacco. “It may hold some tobacco stocks in commingled funds.”
The divestment announcement came after a campaign by Fossil Free SFSU, a group that is part of 350.org, an organization supporting climate change-related activities in 181 countries. 350.org started a campaign last summer to stop the proposed Keystone Pipeline XL, which would carry tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, to refineries in Texas.
Five other colleges or universities in the United States—Unity College and College of the Atlantic in Maine, Hampshire College in Massachusetts, and Sterling and Green Mountain colleges in Vermont—have already agreed to divestment of fossil fuel investments, according to Fossil Free. Divestment campaigns are active on 300 campuses.
Tar sands oil is considered one of the “dirtiest” sources of petroleum on Earth. It contains so much carbon that its extraction and use could make it nearly impossible to reverse the impact of global warming anytime soon, according to some scientists.
The Obama administration is seriously considering approval of the Keystone project and is expected to make a decision soon.