Sandy Polishuk’s Testimony to City Council Dec. 17, 2014

Mayor Hales and members of the Council,

My name is Sandy Polishuk. I live in NE Portland. I am with 350PDX. I am also an historian and I want to give you a bit of history.

On June 5, 2013 Mayor Hales came out for fossil fuel divestment at a press conference for UN World Environment Day North America.

On July 16, 2013 Mayor Hales met with Bill McKibben and committed to divesting the City. Over the summer 350PDX met with the rest of the council and a strong majority of you committed to vote for our resolution.

In September 2013, 350PDX provided the mayor’s staff with a draft resolution for fossil fuel divestment.

On October 8, 2013, we were told our resolution needed to wait until the new Temporary Committee on Socially Responsible Investing did it’s work, that they would address our issue. That same day the City created the Do-Not-Buy list for WalMart.

On August 6, 2014, the Temporary Committee presented its report. It did not address our issue. They recommended another committee, the resolution we are presented with today.

During this 19 months since Mayor Hales proudly announced that the City was not invested in fossil fuels and urged the State to follow suit, the City has purchased an Exxon bond or two and we have waited patiently. We are now out of patience.

The fossil fuel divestment we are requesting is probably the easiest of all socially responsible investment strategies to carry out. It does not require expensive subscriptions , research or the volunteer service of busy citizens. A list exists of the top 200 fossil fuel companies ranked by the carbon content of their reserves. These are the companies 350PDX is asking you to not buy.

As you know, the divestment movement is trying through this tactic to a shine light on the necessity to leave 80% of fossil fuel reserves in the ground as burning them will mean we will face climate disaster despite our best mitigation and adaptation efforts.

The time has come to add this list of 200 companies to your Do-Not-Buy list. The three  bonds the City currently holds on the list will all mature by 2017. We are not asking you to sell those, just to let them expire and not buy any new companies on the list of 200. We are asking you to live up to your reputation as a forward-looking, progressive city that cares about the future health and well-being of its citizens and we are asking you, especially, Mayor Hales, to live up to the commitment you made a year and a half ago.