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Unions Are Inadvertently Propping Up Fossil Fuels

By Julia Rock - Jacobin, November 15, 2021

In early October, an oil pipeline owned by Amplify Energy spilled into the ocean in Southern California. Roughly 25,000 gallons of crude oil leaked into the ocean off the coast of Orange County, according to the US Coast Guard, prompting local, state, and federal criminal investigations. The pipeline may have been damaged by a ship dragging its anchor in January.

Complicating matters is that Amplify, the product of a merger and vulture capital restructuring of another bankrupt oil company, may not have enough cash to pay for cleanup or decommission the pipeline. That means taxpayers could end up bearing the costs.

This ecological and financial nightmare was in part funded by the retirement savings of schoolteachers in Pennsylvania.

That’s because the largest shareholder in Amplify is a hedge fund called Avenue Capital Group. The hedge fund is led by Milwaukee Bucks owner Marc Lasry, the short-lived chair of the scandal-plagued media company Ozy and the father of Wisconsin Democratic Senate candidate Alex Lasry.

According to an Avenue spokesperson, one of the firm’s funds invested in the debt of an oil company in 2015 that would later merge with Amplify. Avenue currently holds a 6.7 percent ownership stake in Amplify, making it the company’s largest shareholder and giving the firm a seat on Amplify’s board.

That fund is financed with money from public employees’ retirement funds — spotlighting how millions of workers’ savings are now being used to prop up the fossil fuel industry amid the climate crisis.

Read the entire article here.

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