UC divests from Dakota Access Pipeline companies

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The controversial Dakota Access Pipeline in central Iowa.

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The UC has been divesting and will continue to divest from Energy Transfer Partners and Sunoco Logistics, two companies involved in the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, according to Jagdeep Singh Bachher, Vice President of investments and Chief Investment Officer of the Regents.

Over the history of owning the bonds, we’ve probably had about 50 million or less in [Energy Transfer Partners] we have been gradually selling over time and we’re now left with 19 or 20 million dollars, which I clearly see us moving out of in the near future, including about 15 or so or less million in Sunoco Logistics, which we will also cut out of,” Bachher said at 54:30 of the video, before concluding his performance report for periods ending on December 31, delivered to the UC Board of Regents investments subcommittee. The video was posted by the UC Board of Regents YouTube account on Tuesday.

This statement comes after several protests and a UC-wide day of action against the Pipeline.

“I think this is a good start and it shows how much power the student voice really has. This is a result of countless hours of work by students across the UC system and I am confident that we will see follow-through on UCOP’s commitment.” said Brody Patterson, president of the Native American Student Alliance at UCSD.

Bachher, however, noted that the decision was purely economic, despite significant pressure, including phone calls and postcards, from students and community members. He stated that the “headline risks, social risks, and environmental risks” of these investments would erode the financial returns.

“We do not divest in our office,” Bachher said during the meeting. “The world is complicated and you have to incorporate thinking about sustainable investing as part of your investment decision making, not as some isolated, headline-grabbing event.”

Burgundy Gregg Fletcher, an organizer of the UC-wide day of action protest at UCSD and the vice president of the Native American Student Alliance, is unsatisfied with the report.

“The Native American students across the UC system have made it clear that investing in these companies is an attack on Native land, Native people, and Native sovereignty,” Fletcher said. “While I’m glad to hear UCOP is divesting from companies they find to be headline and social risks, it isn’t enough; nothing short of full divestment will do. Move the other $30 million.”

In addition to withdrawing from Energy Transfer Partners and Sunoco Logistics, the UC has sold approximately $150 million of holdings in fossil fuels since the initial decision was made to shift to sustainable investments in September 2014. $200 million has been invested in sustainable agriculture, developmental infrastructure, and climate infrastructure types of assets, according to Bachher.

UC investments in unsustainable resources have been a topic of controversy since the Fossil Free UC movement began in 2012. Neither the UC Office of the President nor the Office of the Chief Investment Officer have released statements regarding the status of UC investments.

“The UC seems pretty intent on not publicizing or politicizing their investments. But when student monies are being used to fund agents that are actively exerting violence, cash is political. Resolving that issue is political, too,” said Rigel Robinson, an ASUC Senator at UC Berkeley.

“The investable universe for us is thousands of names, and for us to be focused on a couple of million dollars in the grand scheme or portfolio of names that have growing sustainability risks is not worth the time or effort,” Bachher said.

The UC Office of the President and the Office of the Chief Investment Officer did not respond to requests for comment.

Aleena Karamally is the Managing Editor for The Triton.

Photo Credit:Dakota Access Pipe Line via Carl Wycoff (license)