To: Dear Socially Responsible Investment Advisory Committee
Earlham College: Go Fossil Free!
Earlham College is currently invested in companies that profit from climate change. This is environmentally and socially irresponsible. The following companies have been determined the worst offenders out of all American coal companies in terms of negative human health affects, environmental violations, and contributions to climate change (Hereafter referred to as the Filthy 15):
Alpha Natural Resources, Ameren, American Electric Power, Arch Coal, Consol Energy, Consolidated Edison (?), Dominion, Duke Energy, Edison International, GenOn, First Energy, MidAmerican, PPL Corporation, Patriot Coal, Peabody, and Southern Company
Therefore, the REInvestment campaign proposes the following:
1.To remove any direct holdings that Earlham College owns in Filthy 15 companies and to withdraw from Mutual Funds which contain investments in the Filthy 15.
2.To screen all future investments in energy and utility companies that earn a significant percentage of their profit from the mining and/or burning of coal. We have not yet defined what constitutes a "significant percentage," as we would like the input of Earlham's SRIAC and/or financial experts in doing so.
3.To reinvest these withdrawn funds in responsible sources, potentially including: direct holdings in clean energy companies, investments in Green Mutual Funds, or sustainability operations on campus.
Additionally, we would like to work with Earlham College on a longer-term plan to examine all of the investments in the energy and utilities sectors of our endowment's investment portfolio so as to ensure that all of our energy investments are in line with our Principles & Practices.
Why is this important?
Earlham College’s guiding Principles and Practices, the fundamental values that shape our community, include the Quaker testimonies of Peace and Justice and Respect for Persons. The actions of the Filthy Fifteen directly violate these Earlham values. Our Principles and Practices also include the testimony of Integrity, which asks us to aspire to truthful living. Investing in the Filthy Fifteen, whose actions violate Earlham’s fundamental values, violates our integrity.
The Earlham College Socially Responsible Investment Policy states that, “Earlham seeks to minimize investing in the securities of companies whose overall behavior results in irresponsible use of the natural environment and/or denigrates the dignity of individuals.”
The goods and services provided by the Filthy Fifteen, although traditionally viewed as positive and good, have inherent and mostly unavoidable repercussions. Repercussions associated with coal-mining and coal-burning are inherent and implicit in coal operations. Therefore, investment in the Filthy Fifteen, which are responsible for a greater number of EPA violations and injury/illness-related lawsuits than any other coal companies, conflicts with our investment policy as well as the Principles and Practices.
In light of the current financial instabilities of the American economy, we recognize the importance of addressing the financial responsibility of coal investments. Earlham’s investment in coal is not only ethically irresponsible, but financially unsustainable as well. The responsible investment organization As You Sow cites the following disadvantages of investing in coal in their 2011 report (Lowe & Sanzillo,”White Paper: Financial Risks of Investments in Coal”):
• Capital expenditures for environmental compliance and uncertainty about the cost implications of pending and anticipated environmental mandates;
• Persistently high construction costs;
• Coal price volatility, rising costs for mining, and shifting markets all placing upward pressure on coal prices;
• Competition from low prices of natural gas and other energy sources, which is exerting downward pressure on power prices;
• Improved profitability and policy preferences for solar, wind, and energy efficiency investments;
• The slow pace of development of viable commercial scale carbon capture and storage for coal plants.
Climate change is accelerating. We are witnessing the increasing impacts of a warming planet more and more consistently; in this last year alone our country experienced record-breaking heat, droughts, and hurricanes, which impacted hundreds of thousands of people and cost our country hundreds of billions of dollars. Hurricane Sandy alone caused $50bn in damages.
Experts agree that global warming caused by humans burning fossil fuels will continue to accelerate and intensify these tragic climate disasters. The scientific consensus is clear and overwhelming; we cannot safely burn even half of global fossil-fuel reserves without dangerously warming the planet for several thousand years.
We believe such action on behalf of Earlham College will not only be a sound decision for our institution’s financial portfolio, but also for the wellbeing of its current and future graduating classes, who deserve the opportunity to graduate with a future not defined by climate chaos.