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Divestment Is Expensive, Fossil Fuel Group Says

May 2, 2017
 
 

A trade association representing independent U.S. oil and natural gas producers fired another shot Monday in a running campaign to push back against the effort to convince colleges and universities to divest their endowments from fossil fuel companies.

Divestment brings significant portfolio costs and would force a 15.2 percent average reduction in endowment spending, according to the report, from the Independent Petroleum Association of America. The report is part of a program the IPAA started in 2015 to use data to argue that fossil fuel divestment is ineffective.

It says private universities could raise annual tuition by $1,043 to $3,265 to compensate for lost revenue from endowments, depending on their reliance on endowment spending. Public universities, which generally have smaller endowments and less reliance on endowment spending, could raise tuition by $123, to $385.

Supporters of divestment have in the past made the case that fossil fuel companies are overvalued and that clean energy can be more profitable than fossil fuels over the long run. A divestment task force at Barnard College recently concluded it could not predict the financial impact of divesting from fossil fuels.

The campaign coordinator at the climate group 350.org was unimpressed with the report when IPAA shared it on Twitter.

But the senior vice president for operations and public affairs at IPAA, Jeff Eshelman, said divestment would make college degrees more expensive.

“When it comes to the impacts of divestment, whether in the form of increased tuition or cuts to instruction time and faculty, students only stand to lose,” he said in a statement.

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