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Growing Movement Pushes Banks to Defund DAPL, Pilgrim, Fossil Fuel Pipelines

November 29, 2016
Energized by Norway’s biggest bank pulling out from funding Dakota Access Pipeline, while Pilgrim Pipelines begins to lose funding too, we can all take action by pressing banks and financial institutions to divest from and defund new fossil fuel pipelines everywhere.

On horseback at Standing Rock, protesting DNB (Norway’s biggest bank) funding for Dakota Access Pipeline. Photo by Adam Alexander Johansson, from YES Magazine.

Here are three great articles from YES Magazine — two of them complete with lists of banks, phone numbers and all you need to take action — to get you started:

People Power: How to Contact the 17 Banks Funding the Dakota Access Pipeline from YES Magazine, published September 29th 2016, shows the starting point for the growing movement to pressure banks to defund Dakota Access Pipeline, called DAPL:

Here are CEO names, emails, and phone numbers—because banks have choices when it comes to what projects they give loans to.


I Couldn’t Go to Standing Rock, So I Closed My Bank Account Instead,” published just five weeks later, shows activists’ deepening commitment: don’t just call a bank’s CEO, pull your own money out from that bank while you’re at it. The list of banks funding DAPL has grown as well: “There are 38 banks supporting the Dakota Access pipeline. I found out mine was one of them,” begins this essay’s author Cedar Wilkie Gillette.

DAPL Bank Protest

On October 31st, 2016, demonstrators in the lobby of San Francisco’s Citibank headquarters protest the bank’s funding for Dakota Access Pipeline. Photo: Peg Hunter

Cedar Wilkie Gillette lays out her motivation to act, beginning with water protection and expanding to her experience with North Dakota fracking’s impacts on families and on Native American women in particular, excerpted here:

I am a North Dakota Native on both sides of my family. I was born on Turtle Mountain, my mother’s home; I also grew up on Fort Berthold—the home of my father’s family—which sits at the heart of the Bakken shale boom.

After working to ban fracking on one homeland, in 2012 I began working to help Native American women being directly impacted by fracking on my other homeland, as a tribal domestic violence victim advocate. Thousands of industry workers had infiltrated our reservation and had no place to live, so they populated undocumented, temporary living areas, known as “man camps.”  On my second day on the job, I relocated two victims who escaped a man camp that oil workers had prevented them from leaving. They had jumped out a window and walked miles to a police station.

As I continued this work, the unprecedented levels of violence against Native American women only increased. These man camps are also spawned by the Dakota Access pipeline construction.

The movement at Standing Rock unifies and connects our commitment to protect water, climate and future generations with our commitment to indigenous peoples’ rights, human rights, racial and economic justice, and gender justice. That’s what makes this movement so diverse, so unified, and so strong.


All our actions have our deep and thoughtful motivation as one bookend, and results as the other bookend. We don’t always win, and right now the escalating suffering from militarized police assaults and threats from the authorities in North Dakota are intense. But let’s look at and build on positive results — two partial victories unfolding right now:

Norway’s Largest Bank Divests From Dakota Access, Launches Own Investigation (November 17th, Yes Magazine) describes the extraordinary success of the movement to defund DAPL. DNB bank isn’t just divesting, they are investigating. And if the movement has its way, this will only be the first bank to divest from DAPL: “Up to $460 million in credit is still at stake for the Bakken pipeline companies after DNB shed its pipeline assets and has begun a “fact-based evaluation” of indigenous rights abuses.”

Times Square Action Confronts Ares, the Big Money Behind Pilgrim Pipelines. October 26 2016: Photo by Peter Hart, published by Food and Water Watch.

An even lesser-known victory is in New York State where east coast Water Protectors have put in over two years of fierce organizing to successfully hold off the proposed Pilgrim pipelines. Pilgrim would carry both Bakken Shale crude oil and refined products in two pipelines, side by side in the same trench — double risk, double trouble — crossing 256 waterways, including the Hudson River, in New York and New Jersey.  Pilgrim’s partial loss of funding is a temporary victory because as soon as Pilgrim finds more funders, they’ll be aggressively pushing forward and  we must be ready. But Bloomberg reported this week on Pilgrim’s loss of funding, embedded in their very important story about the Colonial Pipeline disaster, “A Blade Strikes Steel and the Blast Shocks a Nation” (November 23rd):

“Over the past three decades, incidents like these, and the resistance they’ve spawned, have led to a much tighter regulatory environment for pipeline builders. Roger Williams, a pipeline developer from Wichita, said that in the mid-1980s he oversaw a project that laid 1,300 miles of pipe from Texas to California, crossing several states and a mountain range for good measure. At 85, he’s now vice president for operations on the 178-mile Pilgrim Pipeline project, which would serve cities in New Jersey and New York. His team has spent millions just to get to the beginning of the permitting process, including money to hire herpetologists and other wildlife experts to examine the ecological impact of the new line. After more than three years of groundwork, Williams said, “we don’t have one single permit yet.” In the meantime, the company has had to shut down a branch office in New York and lay off its staff. “They protect everything up there except human beings,” he said.”

Since Coalition Against Pilgrim Pipelines in New York (CAPPNY) and New Jersey (CAPP) have done phenomenal work getting over 100 resolutions and ordinances passed opposing Pilgrim to protect human health, drinking water, climate, and the environment in both states (most but not all Resolutions listed here), and have specifically gone after Pilgrim’s major funder, Ares Management and Ares Management EIF Fund, this slowdown in Pilgrim’s funding came as a Thanksgiving surprise. The big action targeting Ares took place while I camped at Standing Rock in October. Several CAPPNY organizers, including  Joe Barbarito of New Paltz Climate Action Coalition, Stacy Lipari from Rosendale, Sue Rosenberg of Coalition Against Pilgrim Pipelines-Saugerties, and myself, have traveled separately to Standing Rock to directly participate, donate, build bonds with and support the Water Protectors there between September and November, even while developing the Coalition Against Pilgrim Pipelines back home which continues to make it impossible for Pilgrim Pipelines to be permitted or built.

Right now, in short, the Pilgrims are finding it harder to dominate, while indigenous peoples have captured hearts and minds with brilliant, creative, deeply spiritual and profoundly nonviolent leadership at Standing Rock. It’s up to all of us allies and organizers to build on this positive momentum by standing with Standing Rock, pushing financial institutions to divest and defund fossil fuel pipelines, create climate justice, and protect frontline communities everywhere.

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