Today, students, faculty, and staff at the University of New Mexico (UNM) asked the New Mexico Attorney General to investigate whether the UNM Foundation’s Endowment investments in fossil fuels violate New Mexico state law.
The complaint, spearheaded by UNM LEAF (Leaders for Environmental Action and Foresight), with the assistance of the Climate Defense Project, calls on Attorney General Hector Balderas to investigate whether the UNM Foundation, as a non-profit public charity, has violated the New Mexico Uniform Prudential Management of Institutional Funds Act (UPMIFA) by investing contrary to its charitable mission.
At issue is an estimated $28.95 million of the Foundation’s $579 million Consolidated Investment Fund (or Endowment) that is invested in fossil fuels.
This is the first time this novel legal approach is being applied to a university in an oil and gas state where companies in which the UNM foundation invests are directly contributing to the degradation of the health of and well-being of state residents, according to the complaint.
The strategy was used successfully by students seeking divestment at Cornell University. Most recently, the strategy compelled Harvard University to commit to fossil fuel divestment in September after students filed a complaint with the Massachusetts Attorney General in March.