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Clinton Foundation Called On to Cut Ties with Fossil Fuels Sector

"This is an opportunity for the Clinton Foundation to prove themselves as climate leaders," says May Boeve of

350 Action's call is directed in part at Foundation vice chair Chelsea Clinton. (Photo: Fortune Live Media/flickr/cc)

Citing big-dollar donations from three fossil fuel giants—Chevron, Conoco Philips, and Exxon—a leading climate justice group is calling on the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative to stop investing in or accepting money from the industry that's driving the global climate crisis. 

Specifically, the public demands from 350 Action—directed toward Foundation president Donna E. Shalala, founder and chair President Bill Clinton, and vice chair Chelsea Clinton—are that the Clinton Foundation:

  1. Stop any new investments in the top 200 fossil fuel companies.
  2. Drop coal, oil and gas from your investment portfolio (by divesting from the top 200 fossil fuel companies).
  3. Invest at least 5 percent of your portfolio into climate solutions defined as renewable energy, energy efficiency, clean technology and clean energy access.
  4. Direct the Clinton Global Initiative to no longer accept donations or pledges from the top 200 fossil fuel companies.

"Taking money from and investing in the fossil fuel industry poses a challenge to all of the good work the Clinton Foundation is doing around climate, health, and poverty," said May Boeve, a spokesperson for 350 Action, which is the political advocacy arm of

"This is an opportunity for the Clinton Foundation to prove themselves as climate leaders," she added, "and join the movement in taking back our systems from the stranglehold of the fossil fuel industry."

Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign ties to the fossil fuel industry have come under increasing scrutiny in the wake of her hostile interaction at the end of March with a Greenpeace climate activist, and another a week later in Pittsburgh.

Put simply, Greenpeace's Kelly Mitchell wrote earlier this month: "We need to sever the ties between those who wield power and those who would risk our collective future for a few dollars."

The Foundation's link to the coal, oil, and gas sectors is no less troubling—or potentially devastating—as Katie McChesney, also of 350 Action, explained on Tuesday.

"Through their financial ties, political and philanthropic leaders give inappropriate access to the fossil fuel industry who are using this power to push extreme extraction and fuel the climate crisis," she said. "The Clintons have an incredible amount of political and financial capital through their Foundation."

Writing last week at the International Business Times, reporters David Sirota and Ned Resnikoff confirmed that "Clinton's family foundation has accepted millions of dollars directly from major fossil fuel companies—including from those that lobbied her State Department just before the agency approved a controversial pipeline delivering what environmentalists call one of the world's dirtiest sources of energy."

Sirota and Resnikoff wrote:

In 2009, the Clinton-led State Department approved a permit for the 400-mile Alberta Clipper pipeline, which is designed to pump up to 450,000 barrels of oil per day from the Canadian oil sands to Wisconsin (where recent polls show Democratic primary voters are concerned about its impact). According to federal lobbying records reviewed by the IBT, Chevron and ConocoPhillips both lobbied the State Department specifically on the issue of “oil sands” in the immediate months prior to the department's approval, as did a trade association funded by ExxonMobil.

Those three oil companies have delivered between between $2.5 million and $3 million to the Clinton Foundation. That is on top of money their executives and lobbyists delivered to Clinton’s campaign and super PAC in her 2008 presidential bid — the year before she approved the pipeline.

Common Dreams also reported last year that fossil fuel corporations and a Canadian trade agency that promoted the construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline had donated millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation.

When asked by Bowdoin College freshman Isabella McCann on the campaign trail about the Foundation's financial ties to the fossil fuels industry, both Bill and Chelsea Clinton demurred.

"Would you rather we have not done any emergency relief?" Bill Clinton asked McCann in February, the day before the New Hampshire primary at a campaign rally for his wife. "Would you have preferred that we didn't have more than half the people on Earth staying alive from AIDS medication?"

Meanwhile, at the same event, Chelsea Clinton stated: "If anyone wants to be part of the solution, I think we wanna have them, right?"

But for McChesney, the answer is no. "The divestment movement has set a new standard for our leaders and their foundations," she said, "no amount of money from fossil fuel interests is acceptable."

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