US cities pull $3 billion out of Wells Fargo over funding of Dakota Pipeline
Two U.S. cities have taken a stand against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline by announcing plans to cut ties with Wells Fargo, which is a key funder of the project, NPR reports.
Seattle’s City Council voted against renewing a contract with the bank next year, which will result in a loss of $3 billion in funds from the city. Soon after Seattle voted to pull funds from Wells Fargo, the Davis, California City Council followed suit and voted to find a new bank to handle its accounts in the next year.
“Protests in Seattle against the Dakota Access Pipeline project have been large and frequent, often organized by local tribal members,” KUOW reports. “Protesters, many of them Native people from Washington state, share the concerns of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which says the pipeline would threaten tribal water supplies, land and cultural sites.”
Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant, who identifies as a socialist, said in a statement that the banking giant is “one of the six primary financiers of the for-profit private prison industry.” Sawant added, “All of the big banks are terrible, and, as long as we have capitalism, our contracts will be with institutions that put corporate greed over human need.”
Seattle’s decision to divest from the pipeline comes amid Army approval of its construction. On Tuesday, Feb, 7, 2017, Robert Speer, the acting secretary of the Army announced plans to continue the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Dave Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux responded with a call to action and vowed to challenge the easement in court. “The drinking water of millions of Americans is now at risk,” the statement read. “We are a sovereign nation and we will fight to protect our water and sacred places from the brazen private interests trying to push this pipeline through to benefit a few wealthy Americans with financial ties to the Trump administration.”
“As native peoples, we have been knocked down again,” Archambault II said in his statement. “But we will get back up, we will rise above the greed and corruption that has plagued our peoples since first contact.”
Seattle Council member Debora Juarez said of the city’s decision to divest, “for Seattle, a City whose budget is approx. $4B., voting to withdraw our funds … money that covers the biweekly payroll of $30 million for about 12,000 employees – is an opportunity to send a message.”