UCSB Associated Student Senate Passes Resolution to
Divest from Fossil Fuels with Landslide Vote
UCSB Associated Students Senate voted unanimously to pass a resolution which urges the
UC Regents to divest from the fossil fuel industry. The vote passed at 3:20AM on Thursday
morning, February 14th, only nine hours after UC Berkeley passed a similar resolution
through their student senate. The resolution passed with the support and sponsorship of 11
organizations and 20 faculty members, as well as many individuals speaking on its behalf.
The resolution calls on the UC Regents to change the university’s policy of how the General
Endowment Pool (GEP) is invested. It has been estimated that of the $6 billion in the GEP,
$343 million is invested in coal alone.
The resolution was originally introduced to A.S. Senate by the Environmental Affairs Board
on January 30th, yet it was tabled until February 13th due to student concern that divestment
would mean increased tuition, a reality that the UCs have been facing for the past few
years. These concerns were addressed by a FAQ put together for the second senate
meeting, which shows that tuition would not be affected, and divestment from fossil fuels is
indeed a human rights issue.
Divestment from the fossil fuel industry would mean ending all investments in coal, oil, and
natural gas. It asks the Regents to move its money out of a list of 200 companies, compiled
by the Carbon Tracker Initiative, that have been shown to be the worst polluters.
The University of California system has a history of divestment. It divested from the tobacco
industry, from apartheid in South Africa in the 1980s, and from genocide in Sudan. The
passage of this resolution sends a clear message to the Regents: the students believe
it to be wrong to benefit financially off the suffering of others and the degradation of the
environment as caused by the industry. They are asking the Regents to be fellow leaders in
this movement and put California back on the map as one of the progressive states.
Attached is the FAQ Sheet that addressed student concerns, as well as the resolution.
State-Wide Affairs Coordinator, Environmental Affairs Board
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
STUDENTS INVESTIGATE MAJOR PROBLEMS IN CURRENT US ELECTRICITY POLICY
Public Health Burdens, Subsidies, Environmental Damages Present Serious Challenges to US Economy
Santa Barbara, CA, Feb 20, 2009 – Two students from UC Santa Barbara’s Environmental Affairs Board have released a report that documents a number of serious economic concerns regarding the coal and nuclear electricity industries. The report synthesizes information from a number of academic, media and government sources to provide a holistic look at the economics behind domestic electricity production. When external costs are considered, the authors argue, wind and solar become more attractive alternatives.
“Coal-fired electricity has an estimated annual public health burden of $268 billion and receives an estimated $8 billion per year in federal subsidies. It also requires a minimum of $11 billion per year in needed but currently missing regulations to ensure adequate environmental safety,” says Quentin Gee, a graduate student at UCSB and co-author of the report. “Just because public health costs and subsidies don’t show up on your electricity bill doesn’t mean that the American economy doesn’t pay the price.”
The report, US Electricity Policy 2009, also documents the consistently increasing costs of nuclear technology. Current estimates for new nuclear plant construction put per kWh costs of electricity at 16 cents, almost twice the US average.
In addition to highlighting problems with nuclear and coal, the report documents a number of market trends within the wind and solar sectors that point to immediate or near-term cost competitiveness with conventional sources. Undergraduate student Nick Allen, the other co-author of the report, asks, “Why should we waste valuable financial resources on dangerous and uncertain technologies when market momentum in the renewable sector trends toward a more cost-effective use of investment dollars? The market understands this, and has acted accordingly. Policy makers and other interested individuals should take note.”
The authors intend for the report to serve as an informational and lobbying resource for the 10,000 students expected to attend the second Power Shift event, a youth climate summit in Washington DC from Feb 27th to Mar 2nd. Allen explains, “Students compiled the information in this report to show congress and the country that the youth are informed, and frankly, seriously concerned about the direction of current policy. We hope that fellow students will utilize the information herein in their efforts to constructively engage their representatives in the capital.”
A number of energy experts in the Santa Barbara Area have reviewed the report, including Senior Lecturer in Energy and the Environment Melvyn S. Manalis and Senior Energy Associate for Santa Barbara’s Community Environmental Council, Megan Birney.
Quentin Gee, Nick Allen
The Environmental Affairs Board at UC Santa Barbara
Voice (269) 492-2235, (415) 710-5364
Fax (805) 893-7734
US Electricity Policy 2009 can be accessed online from: