Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

A Seattle city council committee voted this week in favor of the city divesting $3 billion from Wells Fargo over its support for the Dakota Access pipeline. (Photo: @RAN/Twitter)

DAPL Divestment Campaign Builds to Counter Trump's Pipeline Support

'The Dakota Access pipeline is becoming a litmus test for all banks involved'

Deirdre Fulton

With the Trump administration making clear its intent to push forward the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL) regardless of widespread opposition, campaigners are ramping up their call for the project's financial backers to pull their support.

"If money rules the day then we will bring compassion to our capital by divesting."
—Chase Iron Eyes, Lakota People's Law Project

A coalition of groups supporting the defunding campaign announced Friday that more than 700,000 people have signed onto petitions demanding DAPL-financing banks divest from the project. That number "includes individuals who collectively report having over $2.3 billion invested in these banks through checking, mortgage, and credit card accounts, which they are ready to divest if the banks continue financing DAPL," according to a statement from organizers. Already, the divestment effort has led to the removal of $55 million and counting from more than a dozen banks. 

Reporting on how the #DeFundDAPL movement is spreading across Indigenous nations on Thursday, Frances Madeson wrote for Yes! Magazine:

"Many people are, rightfully, afraid that [President Donald Trump's] executive support now means that the pipelines are full steam ahead," said Melanie Yazzie, co-founder of The Red Nation, an activist coalition dedicated to the liberation of Native people from capitalism and colonialism. She views divestment as obstruction—the good kind—something akin to water protectors locking down on construction equipment and as a continuation of the widespread resistance that has united under the cry of #NoDAPL.

"The investors and financiers will not move forward if the projects are deemed financially unfavorable," Yazzie said. "We must continue to deny settlers their desired profits, profits they reap from colonizing our non-human relatives—the land and water."

That is the hope of a growing cohort of tribal leaders, activists, researchers, and strategists who have come to see divestment, which is catching on all across Indian Country, as a winning tactic in a wider strategy of non-cooperation.

"Indigenous peoples across the Americas, from Standing Rock to the Amazon, have for years been standing up against the destructive, racist practices of the fossil fuel industry," Leila Salazar López, executive director of Amazon Watch, said Friday. "The number of people withdrawing their money from the banks supporting the Dakota Access pipeline is a clear signal to those banks that destructive fossil fuel projects are a bad financial, social, and environmental investment."

The 17 banks directly funding the construction of the DAPL are: Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ, BayernLB, BBVA, BNP Paribas, Citigroup, Crédit Agricole, DNB ASA, ICBC, ING, Intesa Sanpaolo, Mizuho Bank, Natixis, SMBC, Société Générale, SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, TD Bank, and Wells Fargo.

Protests at branch locations took place all week around the country and the world.

And there's evidence that the campaign is having an effect.

International finance tracking organization BankTrack reported Thursday that Dutch bank ABN AMRO—which has not directly contributed to DAPL construction but had provided a total of $45 million in credit to parent company Energy Transfer Equity (ETE)—announced it would end its financing for ETE if the pipeline is pursued without the consent of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, or if further violence is used against protesters. 

"The Dakota Access pipeline is becoming a litmus test for all banks involved on how they let environmental, social, and human impacts weigh in when considering finance for a particular project," said BankTrack direcor Johan Frijns.

In separate but related news, Seattle's Affordable Housing, Neighborhoods and Finance Committee this week voted to divest $3 billion from Wells Fargo over its support for DAPL. A final vote from the full council is coming Monday.

"It's inspiring to see the power of global currency being leveraged in the frontline movement at Standing Rock," added Chase Iron Eyes, lead attorney for the Lakota People's Law Project, who was arrested protesting the pipeline just this week.

"Separate fights—defending clean drinking water, upholding constitutional freedoms, creating a new energy economy—are becoming one as people recognize and respond to the problem of banks using their money to finance human rights violations and brutality," he said. "If money rules the day then we will bring compassion to our capital by divesting."

The Standing Rock Sioux and its allies are also planning a Native Nations March on Washington for Friday, March 10.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

'Political Malpractice': House Democrats' Bill Wouldn't Add Dental to Medicare Until 2028

"I don't want to see it drawn out to as far as the House has proposed," Sen. Bernie Sanders said during a recent press call.

Jake Johnson ·


'How Many More Deaths Must It Take?' Barbados Leader Rips Rich Nations in Fierce UN Speech

"How many more variants of Covid-19 must arrive, how many more, before a worldwide plan for vaccinations will be implemented?"

Jake Johnson ·


To Avert Debt Ceiling Calamity, Democrats Urged to Finally Kill the Filibuster

"The solution is to blow up the filibuster at least for debt limit votes, just as Mitch blew it up to pack the Supreme Court for his big donors."

Jake Johnson ·


Biden Decries 'Outrageous' Treatment of Haitians at Border—But Keeps Deporting Them

"I'm glad to see President Biden speak out about the mistreatment of Haitian asylum-seekers. But his administration's use of Title 42 to deny them the right to make an asylum claim is a much bigger issue."

Jessica Corbett ·


Global Peace Activists Warn of Dangers of US-Led Anti-China Pacts

"No to military alliances and preparation for catastrophic wars," anti-war campaigners from over a dozen nations write in a letter decrying the new AUKUS agreement. "Yes to peace, disarmament, justice, and the climate."

Brett Wilkins ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo