Hello University of Illinois Community!
This is the first (of many) blog posts in our fossil fuel divestment series! Our goal is to make transparent the University of Illinois’ investments in the fossil fuel industry. Over the course of this series, one can expect blog posts on the history of divestment at UIUC, posts clarifying what money the University has and where it comes from, and more general posts that publish the work done by UIUC students relating to divestment (including some really cool data visualizations)!
Below is the Official SECS recap of the University of Illinois System (UIS) Office of Investments Annual Report (Fiscal Year Ending June 30, 2021). The report documents the distribution of UIS’ $3.9+ Billion assets under management [note that this asset pool is independent of the University of Illinois Foundation’s (UIF) Endowment, which has \$2.2+ Billion assets under management].
The response focuses entirely on the UIS operating pool ($2.8+ B market value).
The Operating Pool (market value $2.82 billion) consists of funds available for current use by academic and administrative units within the System. The pool includes cash from state appropriations, tuition and fees, student loan funds, grants, self-insurance programs, and hospital and auxiliary servicesUIS Annual Report FY21 (pg. 10)
We choose to focus on this asset group because it is in part funded by the tuition and fees of UIUC students, who in 2019 passed a referendum in favor of divestment from fossil fuels by a ratio of 3 to 1.
The University of Illinois System (UIS) has $121,458,102.87 out of the $2,809,677,874.72 operating pool funds (4.32%) invested in 78 companies that profit from the extraction, transportation, or combustion of coal, petroleum, or natural gas. Here is a comprehensive list of these companies: ['AEP TEX INC', 'ALABAMA PWR CO', 'ALLIANT ENERGY FIN LLC', 'AMEREN ILL CO', 'AMERICAN ELEC PWR CO', 'ATMOS ENERGY CO', 'BAKER HUGHES A GE CO', 'BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY ENERGY CO', 'BLACK HILLS CO', 'BP CAP MKTS', 'BPCE S A MEDIUM TERM NT', 'CANADIAN NAT RES LTD', 'CENTERPOINT ENERGY', 'CHEVRON', 'CONNECTICUT LIGHT & POWER CO', 'DOMINION ENERGY INC', 'DOMINION RES INC', 'DTE E', 'DUKE ENERGY', 'EAST OHIO GAS CO', 'EL PASO PIPELINE PART OP', 'ENBRIDGE INC', 'ENEL FIN INTL N V NT', 'ENERGY TRANSFER PARTNERS', 'ENGIE SA NT', 'ENTERGY ARK INC', 'ENTERGY CO', 'ENTERGY LOUISIANA LLC', 'ENTERGY TEX INC', 'ENTERPRISE PRODS OPER LLC', 'EVERSOURCE ENERGY', 'EXELON CO', 'EXXON MOBIL CO', 'FLORIDA PWR & LT CO', 'GETTY PAUL J TR', 'HARVEST OPERATIONS CO', 'INTERSTATE PWR & LT CO', 'JERSEY CENT PWR & LT CO', 'KANSAS CITY POWER & LT', 'MPLX LP BNDS', 'MPLX LP FLTG RT', 'NATL RURAL UTILS CO', 'NEXTERA ENERGY CA', 'NEXTERA ENERGY CAP HLDGS INC', 'NORTHEAST UTILS', 'NORTHERN STS PWR CO', 'NORTHWESTERN CO', 'NRG ENERGY INC', 'OCCIDENTAL PETE CO', 'OGE ENERGY CO', 'OKLAHOMA GAS & ELEC CO', 'ONCOR ELEC DELIVERY CO', 'ONE GAS INC', 'PACIFICORP', 'PEACHTREE CO', 'PHILLIPS 66', 'PIONEER NAT RES CO', 'PPL CAPITAL FUNDING INC', 'PPL ELEC UTILS CO', 'PUBLIC SVC CO', 'PUBLIC SVC ELEC GAS CO', 'PVPTL HARVEST OPERATIONS CO', 'SCHLUMBERGER', 'SHELL INTL FIN B V', 'SINOPEC GROUP OVERSEAS D', 'SOUTHERN CALIF EDISON CO', 'SOUTHERN CALIF GAS CO', 'SOUTHERN CO', 'SOUTHERN NAT GAS CO', 'SOUTHWESTERN PUBLIC SERVICE CO', 'STATOIL ASA FORMERLY STATOIL A', 'SUNOCO LOGISTICS PARTNERS OPER', 'TOTAL CAP INTL', 'VALERO ENERGY CO', 'VIRGINIA ELEC & POWER CO', 'WEC ENERGY GROUP INC', 'WILLIAMS PARTNERS L P', 'XCEL ENERGY INC'] More information on UIS investments can be found at: https://www.treasury.uillinois.edu/investments
These results come in tandem with a letter published by the Chancellor of University of Illinois stating that the UIF has ~5% of funds (~\$110 million) invested in fossil fuel companies. This results in a total of around $230 million of University of Illinois funds invested in fossil fuel companies.
These results are disheartening, and contradictory to the University’s current statements on sustainability and land grant acknowledgement. These investments also conflict with the Illinois Sustainable Investing Act (ISIA):
A public agency shall prudently integrate sustainability factors into its investment decision-making, investment analysis, portfolio construction, due diligence, and investment ownership in order to maximize anticipated financial returns, minimize projected risk, and more effectively execute its fiduciary duty.
(b) Sustainability factors may include, but are not limited to, the following:
(2) Environmental factors that may have an adverse or positive financial impact on investment performance, such as greenhouse gas emissions, air quality, energy management, water and wastewater management, waste and hazardous materials management, and ecological impacts.https://www.ilga.gov/legislation/publicacts/fulltext.asp?Name=101-0473
In response to these conflicts and contradictions, SECS demand that the University of Illinois System immediately change the wording in their published investment policy from
Within each asset category, investments shall be diversified further among economic sectors, industry, quality and size.UIS Investment Policy Statement (pg. 9)
Within each asset category, investments shall be diversified further among economic sectors, industry, quality and size, while avoiding companies that profit from the extraction, transportation, or combustion of coal, petroleum, or natural gas.
SECS also asks that along with the Annual Report, UIS makes available a dataset (.csv, .db, .xlsx ect.) file containing at minimum all operating and endowment pool investment information already published in the Annual Report. We also ask that this dataset include the sectors a company operates in for every given applicable holding (corporate bonds, asset backed securities …) and whether a company participates in the extraction, transportation, or combustion of fossil fuels.
We are grateful to acknowledge that these results would not be possible without countless hours of work from a myriad of students and staff at the University of Illinois. Contributions range from education and outreach about fossil fuel divestment to students manually classifying the sector of corporate bond holdings (we have asked UIS to provide us with this information on multiple occasions), and everything in between!
If you would like to get involved in the push for University of Illinois Fossil Fuel Divestment, come to an SECS meeting and reach out to us at email@example.com. If you have any questions about, or would like to work with, the datasets used in this analysis, or have interesting ideas for UIS investment data visualizations, feel free to reach out directly to firstname.lastname@example.org.