The Oregon Investment Council (OIC) is responsible for managing and distributing the investments for various State of Oregon trust funds, such as the Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund, the Common School Fund, and the State Accident Insurance Fund. Members of the Council are held to a fiduciary standard. The governor appoints four members, while two ex officio members include the State Treasurer and the director of the agency overseeing the Public Employees Retirement System.
The Council convenes for a total of eight meetings each year, and these meetings are open to the public. If you wish to provide public comments, you can do so by emailing OIC.PublicComments@ost.state.or.us.
Nichole Heil, PESP climate research and campaign coordinator, presented to the OIC in its latest meeting on September 6. Nichole shared with the OIC board about three OIC investments in risky fossil fuel assets that combined release the equivalent of approximately 72 coal-fired power plants worth of carbon dioxide emissions every year.
OIC is one of the largest investors of NGP Capital, an oil and gas-focused private equity firm. OIC has committed a billion dollars since 2018 across nearly all of NGP’s oil and gas funds. This includes a recent $250 million investment in NGP’s latest fund, Natural Resources XIII in 2023. PESP partner Global Energy Monitor’s analysis concluded that from 2014-2021, NGP portfolio companies generated at least an estimated total of 97 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent or about the annual emissions of 26 coal power plants. The OIC is also invested in the controversial Rio Grande LNG export terminal which is facing community and legal opposition, via a $251 million commitment plus a $99 million sidecar to Global Infrastructure Fund V. If built, this project is estimated to emit the equivalent emissions of 44 coal power plants every year, about 163 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent.
OIC also has an actual coal-fired power plant present in its portfolio. The OIC made a $500 million investment in Blackstone Capital Partners VII in 2016 which invested in the Gavin Coal Plant, a 2,600-MW, coal-fired plant, located in Cheshire, OH, the largest in the state. In 2021 it was the fourth-largest power plant CO2 emitter in the country, producing over 7.3 million tons of CO2. In addition, Gavin is the “most deadly remaining coal-fired power plant” in the U.S. according to a 2023 Sierra Club analysis of particulate matter impacts. These private market fossil fuel investments contain climate and financial risks. A recent New York Times column highlighted new research showing Oregon’s pension fund is over 40 percent more volatile than its own reported statistics.
Given the risk of OIC’s private equity portfolio and the Treasurer’s decarbonization framework’s goal to achieve 50% decarbonization across the entire portfolio by 2035, PESP recommends that the Board should do the following to de-risk its portfolio:
- Disclose climate risks throughout the portfolio, in public and private markets
- Engage private asset managers to transition current fossil fuel investments
- Cease new investments in fossil fuels
- Invest in climate solutions
You can find PESP’s public comment HERE.
Recorded video of the September OIC meeting can be found here: https://tinyurl.com/2p954ab4
OIC agendas and meeting minutes can be found here: https://www.oregon.gov/treasury/invested-for-oregon/pages/oregon-investment-council.aspx