Our movement reached a big milestone today when Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon introduced the first ever fossil fuel divestment bill in the US Senate!

The Retirement Investments for a Sustainable Economy (RISE) Act would provide a fossil free retirement option for all federal employees. It also instructs the Government Accountability Office to study the risks fossil fuel investments pose to employee retirement accounts and instructs the office to provide a divestment mechanism if those risks are shown to be substantial (hint: they are). Here’s a one pager with more info on the bill.

Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) 

“As climate chaos ramps up, all Americans deserve the option to divest from the fossil fuel industry,” said Senator Merkley. “For the first time, this bill will give millions of federal employees the power to ensure their retirement funds are invested in a more sustainable, socially responsible investment portfolio.”

“This bill is a big step forward in our efforts to break the fossil fuel industry’s stranglehold on Washington,” said 350.org executive director May Boeve. “As we build a fossil-free world that works for all, the RISE Act would begin the process of divesting federal pensions from fossil fuel corporations and protect workers’ retirement savings in the clean energy transition. Institutions around the world have already divested more than $6 trillion in assets from fossil fuels, and more are continuing to take a stand against oil and gas extraction. While Trump and his Big Oil buddies double-down on climate denial, this bill helps move workers, our government and our economy where we need to go.”

The Act is named RISE in honor of this Saturday’s Rise for Climate international day of action, which will see over 900 events in more than 90 countries around the world. As I write this post, the mobilization is already kicking off in New York City, which is getting a head start on the weekend’s activities!

The introduction of the RISE Act is another big step forward in a year of many “firsts” for the divestment campaign. This year saw the first ever nation, Ireland, divest from fossil fuels, the first divestment from India, with Caritas India dropping their fossil fuel stocks, and the first major medical association divesting, with the American Medical Association making a commitment. This coming Monday in San Francisco, 350.org and Divest Invest will be releasing a new report that celebrates all the major divestment milestones that took place in 2018. Stay tuned!

“This is a landmark bill–it won’t pass tomorrow, but it will inspire action across America from people of all persuasions who know where our future lies,” said 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben emailed me. “If Ireland can do it, America can do it!”

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