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June 18, 2021

Maine will divest from fossil-fuel securities

Amid a slew of bills she’s been signing into law, Gov. Janet Mills has enacted a requirement for the state’s treasury and employee retirement program to sell off their assets in fossil-fuel companies.

Mills on Wednesday approved LD 99, which mandates that the state treasurer and the Maine Public Employee Retirement System divest the state by 2026 of fossil-fuel stocks and other securities it holds. The state of Maine is also forbidden from making similar investments in the future.

The new law applies to holdings in any company or subsidiary among the 200 largest publicly traded fossil fuel corporations, as established by their oil, gas and coal reserves.

The law, introduced by state Rep. Maggie O’Neil, D-Saco, in January drew much public attention in committee hearings. In testimony, State Treasure Henry Beck supported the legislation, and noted that the state’s trust fund holdings include $65 million in fossil-fuel assets.

Maine’s retirement system is estimated to own about $1.3 billion in assets linked to fossil fuels.

Maine is believed to be the first state to address climate change by legislating the divestment of fossil-fuel assets. 

The law does not apply to short-term investment funds that commingle certain securities.

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