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New Bill Encourages Pennsylvania Companies to Divest from Iran

Under a new state bill, any Pennsylvania company contracted by the state that’s also investing in Iranian energy would be forced to make a choice.

Rep. Dan Frankel’s (D-Allegheny) legislation, which passed the state House Tuesday, would bar any company that invests more than $20 million in Iran’s energy sector from entering into a state contract worth more than $1 million through the Department of General Services (DGS).

Under the legislation, DGS would be required to keep and maintain a list of companies that invest in Iranian energy, including but not limited to oil and natural gas tankers, or equipment used to make pipelines that transport oil or natural gas out of Iran.

Frankel said his bill mirrors what other states and countries are doing to isolate Iran.

“Pennsylvania in and of itself is a very large economy, an economy larger than many European countries, and we do an enormous amount of business,” he said. “We do a great deal of purchasing, (and) we do a great deal of investing through our pension funds.”

Frankel doesn’t know yet if there are any companies in Pennsylvania that invest in Iranian energy, but he said DGS is currently looking into it. If there are companies doing business with Iran, Frankel said the legislation won’t force them to stop.

“It’s a clear choice: you either do business with the state of Pennsylvania, or you do business with Iran; you’re not going to do both,” he said.

For Frankel, this legislation is the second part of a two-stage plan to isolate Iran’s economy. Act 44 in 2010 required the four state retirement funds to divest from companies doing business with Iran or Sudan. Frankel said Act 44 has been a success.

“Many of the corporations that we invest in have withdrawn from doing business there, and making investments in Iran,” he said. “And I think that’s been a successful strategy to help isolate as I say, weaken Iran’s economy.”

Frankel is very confident his bill will also pass the Senate, as it has bipartisan support.

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