Environmentalist divests from Big Oil after Times investigation into shares of California lawmakers

(Jos Luis Villegas/AP)

Environmentalist divests from Big Oil after Times investigation into shares of California lawmakers

California Politics

Mackenzie Mays

January 11, 2024

Assemblymember Gail Pellerin (D-Santa Cruz) has divested from several oil and chemical companies after a Times investigation shed light on surprising stocks owned by the outspoken environmentalist who represents a progressive coastal district in the Capitol.

Pellerin sold her shares in Exxon Mobil, Shell, Chevron and Dow Chemical, as well as mining company Freeport-McMoRan, just days after The Times questioned how those investments suit her


Commitment to curbing climate change is evident from a financial disclosure form filed last month with the Fair Political Practices Commission.

When she was elected in 2022, Pellerin was endorsed by environmental organizations such as the Sierra Club and praised for her environmental goals, including

calling for one



California’s dependence on fossil fuels. She has supported environmental legislation since she was elected to office


Assembly, included

votes for

a bill to increase penalties against oil and gas companies


has violated the regulations.

But a Times analysis of state lawmakers’ financial interests published last month found that Pellerin had invested less than $2 million in stocks

in 2022

were interests in companies that conflict with their political values.

Pellerin’s investments included shares in Freeport-McMoRan, a mining company that was fined millions of dollars by the federal government after a copper mine in Arizona allegedly polluted rivers and streams, and Dow Chemical Co., which manufactured napalm that was used as a weapon by the US in the United States. Scientists of the Vietnam War and pesticides believe they are harmful to endangered species.

My voting record and the 36 years I have served my community clearly represent my values. Since my husband’s death five years ago, my financial advisor has worked to align my investments with these values, as evidenced by my latest disclosures,” Pellerin said in a statement on Wednesday. “The LA Times investigation came at just the right time. diving since March last year, according to fiduciary planning.”

Pellerin also sold her shares in the tobacco company Phillip Morris

in March 2022

according to its most recent financial disclosure.

Environmentalists circulated The Times’ report after it was published in December. 17, in which he expressed his concerns about Pellerin’s assets. “I greatly appreciate Pellerin’s swift climate action to adjust its investments,” Hoiyin Ip, committee chair of Sierra Club California, said Wednesday. Mike Young, senior political and organizational director of California Environmental Voters, also applauded Pellerin for her divestments. “She has been a tremendous ally and we would certainly encourage other lawmakers to do the same,” he said.

A third of members of the California legislature collectively reported at least $14 million in investments in

2022, The Times found

. Elected officials and other government officials who influence government decisions are required to report investments, including stocks, bonds and business partnerships, along with the income, property and gifts they have accepted


on annual declarations of economic interests.

The requirement is intended to hold public officials accountable for any conflicts of interest, but also highlights when their financial investments diverge from the way they represent themselves to the public.

Other lawmakers profiled in The Times article made no significant changes to their stock portfolios, according to disclosure reports


submitted in December

amid re-election campaigns


Assemblymember Josh Lowenthal (D-Long Beach)

for example,

has not divested from such businesses


Meta, owner of Facebook and Instagram, despite being an outspoken critic of the potential harm social media causes to children.

Times writers Queenie Wong and Hannah Wiley contributed to this report.


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