A new movement is being utilized by some indigenous groups aimed at keeping pipeline projects off of tribal land through a smear campaign aimed at banks encouraging them not to invest in pipeline projects. Activists call it a municipal divestment movement and it is already hurting the bottom line of companies like Energy Transfer who sued Greenpeace and other partners citing the “substantial” damage this movement is causing “our relationship with the capital markets”.
The push involves activists sitting down with representatives from the world’s biggest banks, delivering documents that they claim show the futility of the tar sands projects, the amount activists have divested from major pipeline investors like Wells Fargo over the last year, ($4 billion) and the promise that their banks will suffer significantly if they invest in future pipeline projects.
The movement appears to be working. Over the past few months, thanks in part to pressure from the movement, the German Bank BayernLB agreed to end its $120 million investment with DAPL while the Dutch investment firm ING released its partial stake in loans assisting the project.
The municipal divestment movement, which began around the time of the North Dakota camp’s destruction, has divested billions from Wells Fargo between the cities of Seattle, WA and Davis and Santa Monica, CA. Over the last few months, thanks in part to public pressure, the German Bank BayernLB agreed to end its $120 million investment with DAPL, while the Dutch investment firm ING let go of its partial stake in loans assisting the project.
The divestments are comparatively small to banks’ bottom line, however, they do seem to be making an impact. In Energy Transfers’ suit divestment efforts were blamed for “impairing access to financing and increasing costs of capital and ability to fund future projects.”
Past success guarantees a ramped up effort by activists to target more financial institutions that capitalize future pipeline development. Pipeline companies would do well to communicate their positions forcefully to banks before activists get to them first.
This argument about tribal lands being desecrated by pipeline projects is nothing but a smokescreen. It’s in fact a virulent anti-energy agenda concocted by eco-warriors who want to see a total end to fossil fuel use immediately. Land is just land until a pipeline project is announced. Then it becomes “tribal” land filled with “indigenous” people being victimized by “big oil.”