The powerful and widespread #DefundDAPL divestment movement is a force to be reckoned with, as it goes toe-to-toe with the big banks that are supporting the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL). #DefundDAPL calls on city governments, institutions, and individuals to divest their funds from banks and businesses involved in pipeline financing and construction.
And cities are leading the way. Just this month, the cities of Seattle and Davis took the first steps toward divesting from Wells Fargo because of its involvement with DAPL. By the end of the year, Seattle will be discontinuing $3 billion in banking activities from Wells Fargo. Davis, California, is the second city in the nation to follow suit, divesting $124 million from Wells Fargo.
The city of Alameda has also recently pledged to divest more than $36 million from Wells Fargo. In addition, Alameda will prohibit Wells Fargo from even applying to be the city’s bank for three years. Santa Monica is also about to end its relationship with Wells Fargo as it moves to withdraw $1 billion over the DAPL issue.
If completed, the Dakota Access pipeline would carry 500,000 barrels of crude oil per day from North Dakota’s Bakken oilfield to Illinois. Members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe say the pipeline threatens to contaminate the Missouri River, which provides water not only for thousands of residents on the reservation, but also for millions of people living downstream.
After representatives from major European bank Nordea visited Standing Rock, they announced that they won’t back DAPL if it violates the demands of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. The bank will insist that the companies involved in DAPL make assurances that any project avoid the Standing Rock reservation. If the companies fail to respect this, Nordea will start the process of selling its holdings in these companies.
Nordea’s head of sustainable finance, Sasja Beslik, said in December, “I don’t actually believe either that the world needs another oil pipeline, but it’s not the construction itself that the tribe wants to stop.There are already eight pipelines under the Missouri River. It’s the location, close to the reservation, that the tribe wants changed.”
The divestment from DAPL campaign is also working hard on the individual front. The site DefundDAPL.org reports that individuals have now pulled nearly $70 million from banks backing the pipeline. Caleb Buchbinder, co-founder of DefundDAPL.org, said that this divestment represents a “realization that the only way to irrevocably stop an industry that’s bent on short-term profits at all costs is divestment.”
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, one of the key backers of the fossil fuels divestment campaign and a veteran of the divestment campaign that helped end apartheid in South Africa, believes that divestment movements are powerful and effective. As Archbishop Tutu said in 2014, “People of conscience need to break ties with corporations financing the injustice of climate change.”