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15 leading national groups moving money out of pipeline banks

Posted Jun. 6, 2017 / Posted by: Audrey Fox

Groups call on other organizations and individuals to bank their values

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Coming on the heels of last week’s announcement to abandon the Paris Climate Accord, a group of leading national social change organizations today announced they are divesting funds from ‘pipeline banks’ and instead banking in alignment with their values. This growing international movement represents the next wave of institutions and individuals refusing to do business with banks financing risky fossil fuel infrastructure projects like the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), Keystone XL, Trans Mountain and others.

The 15 U.S.-based organizations – 350.org, Climate Hawks Vote, CREDO, Earth Guardians, Friends of the Earth, Green America, Honor the Earth, Institute for Policy Studies, League of Conservation Voters, The Hip Hop Caucus, Oil Change International, Potlach Fund, Rainforest Action Network, Sierra Club, and the U.S. Climate Action Network (USCAN) – represent more than 13 million combined supporters. These groups have either already moved organizational money out of banks that finance DAPL and/or other tar sands pipelines, or are in the process of doing so. They currently, or will soon, use banks that they consider more socially responsible in principle and practice.

According to Shorting the Climate, a report documenting big bank support for fossil fuel infrastructure, the top global and U.S. banks provided $785 billion for fossil fuel infrastructure such as coal and tar sands development from 2013 through 2015. Advocates are taking action to ensure that banks do not continue to finance and lock in infrastructure that will push the world past the Paris Climate Agreement objectives.

After recent bank protests and a burning global spotlight, several banks have dropped investments in DAPL or have committed, as U.S. Bank recently did, to revisit their financing of future fossil fuel projects threatening Indigenous sovereignty, water and land. But as one form or other of bank financing continues for existing and proposed pipelines, efforts to defund them continue.

Last month, a coalition of grassroots Indigenous groups from across Turtle Island and 121 First Nations and Tribes of the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion launched an expanded pipeline divestment campaign. With a focus on 17 primary target banks, they call on “individuals, businesses, organizations and governments to withdraw their money from these banks” until they stop financing Enbridge, Kinder Morgan and TransCanada, the companies behind the Dakota Access Pipeline and four proposed new tar sands pipelines projects. The Mazaska (Money) Talks campaign and aligned public petition are catalyzing account closures – currently over $3.6 billion – to tally the business lost due to the banks’ continued involvement.

Most major banks are invested in fossil fuel companies and infrastructure projects like pipelines, refineries and export terminals, among other risky industries. A growing number of online resources exist to help account holders identify alternatives like small and medium-sized banks, credit unions, CDCUs and CDFIs that support a clean and equitable energy transition, local economic development, fair housing, sustainable food systems, and more.

Grand Chief Serge Simon of the Mohawk Council of Kanesatake said, “On behalf of the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion, we thank these organizations for showing leadership in heeding the call of the Mazaska Talks campaign to divest from the banks responsible for DAPL and the four pipelines being proposed to carry even more tar sands oil out of Canada. These banks are just as guilty as the pipeline companies of ignoring the strong and widespread Indigenous opposition to these projects which will poison our water and cause even more climate chaos.”

Matt Remle (Lakota) of Last Real Indians, Mazaska Talks, and a Seattle coalition leader said, “The efforts being taken by NGOs to divest from these banks are to be applauded. Divestment is the next stage in the fight against DAPL, Keystone XL and other Tar Sands and Bakken pipelines. We are hitting their reputation and their bottom line, which are what corporations notice the most. We encourage others to take bold action like the City of Seattle and these influential organizations to ensure the protection of Unci Maka [Grandmother Earth] and the next seven generations to come.”

Seattle City Council Member Kshama Sawant said, “In Seattle, Indigenous activists, the NoDAPL movement, 350 Seattle, socialists and I came together to oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline and forced the City Council to divest $3 billion from Wells Fargo. I’m excited to hear a variety of NGOs have joined this struggle, and I hope they will also call for massive investment in alternative energy infrastructure and green jobs. This fight against the oil lobby and the financial oligarchy needs to continue linking up with larger movements of workers, immigrants, Muslims, women, and others fighting attacks from Donald Trump and the billionaire class.”

Vanessa Green, Campaign Director for DivestInvest Individual said, “We are thrilled to have some of the nation’s leading social change organizations join us in taking a stand against banks that are financially backing destructive fossil fuel projects. Now, more than ever, organizations and individuals are waking up to the troubling reality of what their banks are supporting with their money. It’s time for everyone to invest in our future and divest from projects and businesses that harm our environment. If our President won’t do the right thing, then we all need to step up and do it ourselves.”

Lena Moffitt, Senior Director of the Sierra Club’s Our Wild America Campaign said, “Shifting investments away from fossil fuels can help banks improve not just their social license but their bottom line – investments in clean, renewable energy have proven to be a boon to both our economy and our environment. The people are watching where and what banks sink their funds into, and they will not back down until every last one commits to investing in a future that benefits their communities, their economies, and their health.”

Mustafa Santiago Ali, Senior Vice President of Climate, Environmental Justice & Community Revitalization for the Hip Hop Caucus said, “For too long decision-makers have put the profit of polluters over the lives of real people. Divesting in those who support those decision-makers and polluters is a way we are fighting back. The Hip Hop Caucus is focused on ensuring that as we take this bold action, those resources are being reinvested into our most vulnerable communities in order to take them from surviving to thriving.”

Brad Johnson, Executive Director of Climate Hawks Vote said, “It’s important to Climate Hawks Vote and our members that we turn off the dirty money pipeline on both ends. We see the connections between the money flowing into fossil fuel investments, and the money flowing from fossil fuel businesses directly into politicians’ bank accounts.”

Fran Teplitz, Executive Co-Director of Green America said, “Green America provides the practical steps and banking options people need to switch from destructive mega-banks to banks and credit unions that support people and the planet. We followed our own advice and switched our organizational account to a community development bank that supports low to moderate income neighborhoods – not fossil fuel pipelines.”

Keya Chatterjee, Executive Director of US Climate Action Network (USCAN) said, “Concerned about who our bank was donating and lending money to, we at USCAN found out that our financial service providers not only didn’t align with our values and mission, they were undermining them. Since transitioning our finances to align with our values we have also been able to work with other leaders in socially responsible investing to help educate our members on the power of values based banking and investing.”

Jenny Marienau, U.S. Campaigns Director at 350.org said, “Divestment has been a hugely successful tactic in confronting the global climate crisis and is now shining a bright light on the assaults on the sovereignty, land, and water of First Nations people perpetuated by fossil fuel billionaires and their dirty pipelines. Just this May during 350.org’s Global Divestment Mobilization, thousands of people attended over 260 events in 45 countries on 6 continents to put pressure on institutions to break their financial ties with fossil fuel companies. We stand with the Indigenous-led pipeline divestment campaign and will continue our calls for divestment from DAPL, Keystone XL, and other tar sands pipelines. The future of our communities depends on a just transition to 100% renewable energy.”

Stephen Kretzmann, Executive Director of Oil Change International said, “Nobody wants to change banks – it’s a total hassle and we all know that. But we became worried that not doing it was a subtle but very real manifestation of climate denial. Big banks are counting on the idea that if your money is out of your sight, it will be out of your mind too. We see what they’re doing very clearly though, and we absolutely do not want to support it in any way.”

Erich Pica, President of Friends of the Earth said, “We are moving our money to a bank that can immediately serve our community in ways Wells Fargo and other large banks may never commit to.”

Dana Arviso, Executive Director of Potlach Fund said, “Potlatch Fund is joining the thousands of Tribes, cities, businesses, and individuals collectively divesting billions of dollars from banks by ending our relationships with both Wells Fargo and US Bank. These two banks are among the 17 financial institutions who are direct lenders to Energy Transfer Partners, Energy Transfer Equity, Sunoco Logistics, and the Dakota Access LLC. As a Native-led foundation, we feel it’s imperative to continue to Stand with Standing Rock against an energy company that has little respect for Tribal sovereignty or people’s right to access to clean water.”

Patrick McCully, Climate and Energy Program Director of Rainforest Action Network, said, “RAN is pleased to keep its money at a bank that supports sustainable businesses and non-profits and shares our values, unlike the big banks who are fueling the climate crisis by pumping hundreds of billions of dollars into extreme fossil fuels every year. RAN calls on non-profits to do their part by moving their money out of any bank that is shorting the climate and failing to respect human rights.”

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