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Davis, California

Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Guest Opinion: UC needs to question investments in coal companies

It’s time to look critically at the investments our university holds, particularly in the energy sector. According to data released today by the California Student Sustainability Coalition, the University of California Regents hold $234 million in 15 of the largest coal mining and coal burning corporations, including Massey Energy, Patriot Coal and Ameren Corp., with millions more possibly in individual campus foundations. A portion of that money comes from our tuition money.

Records of endowment holdings through 2011 show that the $234 million the UC holds in the “Filthy 15” coal companies includes:

●      $25.8 million in Southern Company, the fourth-largest carbon polluter internationally.

●      $12.1 million in Peabody Energy, the world’s largest private-sector coal company.

●      $19.1 million in Duke Energy, responsible for 1,248 deaths due to pollution in 2009.

These numbers reflect only assets held centrally by the UC Treasurer and do not include individual campus foundations. This information comes from a report titled “Reducing California Higher Education’s Support of and Dependence on Coal,” authored by Sarah Siedschlag, a CSSC Alumni. It is publicly available on the CSSC website, sustainabilitycoalition.org. The report details investment structures in UC, CSU and CCC systems, endowment holdings in the “Filthy 15” coal corporations and opportunities for reducing investments in “dirty” energy corporations while increasing support for sustainable  energy initiatives.

Using public dollars and student tuition money to fund practices that degrade and pollute our environment is unacceptable, as is the lack of investment transparency and student representation on investment committees. As students in a university system committed to sustainable practices, it is imperative that we push for our institution to put its money where its mouth is.

Sophomore, Environmental Science and Management major


  1. I wonder why the finance bureaucrats back at ucop or the investment bankers ucop hires to manage their money picked to invest $$$ into the “Filthy 15”? Maybe because it was a good investment opportunity? Maybe it’s a safer investment then pouring that money into a green energy company. Maybe every dollar the UC raises through a source other than student fees is a well-earned dollar..


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