Friday, April 26, 2019

The Power of the People

Friends, on Tuesday New York's State Senate is taking up the issue of divestment from fossil fuel producers.  As you know, I think divestment is a terrible idea, so I bestirred myself to write this letter to the State Senators who will decide whether or not to proceed with the divestment plan.  Will they accede to my will?  Anything's possible, but in a democracy we are wise to speak up and speak out whenever we can.  Yes, we can vote every two years for members of our state legislatures, but it really does make a difference when they HEAR from us in the interim.  My advice: be loud, be proud, and be conservative, most of all!

To the Members of the Senate Standing Committee on Finance:

As a New York state resident, taxpayer, and government employee, I write to urge you in the strongest terms to reject the proposed Fossil Fuel Divestment Act (S.2126/A.1536). New Yorkers rely on fossil fuels to provide the vast majority of their energy, and thus for electricity, transportation, and heat. It would be both hypocritical and senseless for the state to require the Comptroller to divest the Common Retirement Fund from an industry that is literally indispensable to New Yorkers' well-being.

Furthermore, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli has made his opposition to the bill clear, partly on the grounds that it may conflict with his duty under the New York State Constitution to uphold his fiduciary responsibilities to present and future retirees. Simply put, investment decisions, according to the Constitution and state law, are to be based solely on the goal of maximizing performance for beneficiaries, and not to fulfill any political or ideological agenda. Passage of S.2126/A.1536 would thus set a dangerous precedent, since it would introduce political criteria into the management of the Common Retirement Fund for the first time.

Lastly, I hope the state legislature will be mindful of the fact that many “fossil fuel companies” are in reality fully aware of the need to transition to renewable energy, and they are seeking to lead the charge and to make alternative energy sources practical and profitable. By divesting from these companies, New Yorkers would lose valuable leverage over energy producers. By remaining engaged with these companies, by contrast, we can help them to understand that a gradual transition to clean energy is in everyone's interests.

I encourage you to read my recent article, published at, that discusses why divestment is such a bad idea for New York and New Yorkers:

I would be happy to discuss these issues further at any time.

Yours sincerely,

Dr. Nicholas L. Waddy
Associate Professor of History
SUNY Alfred

1 comment:

  1. Dr. Waddy: Certainly: Andrew Cuomo's eyes would glaze over and his cavernous maw snap shut for fear of inhaling the breath of heresy, should he be presented with your insolent missive. But I understand there is yet a remnant of free will even in the Legislature, perhaps by a rear guard of those unwilling to abide Andrew's obnoxious totalitarian leftist presumptions.

    Thanx for posting your objections. You have summed up the common sense position well. Perhaps we in unfortunate NY will be free one day of this arrogant man's executive authority. Meanwhile, we serve as an example of what is in store from those of his aristocratic disposition should they acquire overall executive power. The real America must needs see this as a threat to all we value, to be resolutely contained within the borders of the , ehhh, "Empire State", until the nation casts it out completely.