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INVESTING/PORTFOLIO STRATEGIES

Montgomery County Council resolves to divest pension fund’s fossil-fuels holdings

The Montgomery County Council, Rockville, Md., approved a resolution Tuesday that the county’s pension fund divests from holdings in fossil-fuel stocks and bonds. The vote was 8-1.

After the vote, lead sponsor and council President Roger Berliner said that the resolution “makes it clear that investing in companies with the largest fossil-fuel reserves damages our ability to fight climate change and conflicts with our county’s well-demonstrated priority of promoting sustainability and environmental protection.”

The resolution asks the investment trustees of the $3.8 billion Montgomery County Employees’ Retirement System, Rockville, Md., and trustees of a $700 million retiree health trust, to minimize their investments in companies with the largest untapped fossil-fuel reserves. Mr. Berliner had originally proposed legislation to require the funds to divest. Pension fund officials did not return calls for comment by press time.

Mr. Berliner said after the vote that fossil-fuel divestment is consistent with trustees’ fiduciary duties. “Pensioners must not be harmed in pursuit of this goal. Nor should they be. We can have great returns and an environmentally-conscious investment policy. The two are not in conflict,” he said.