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A protest calls for divestment from Wells Fargo for funding the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Wells Fargo has already seen billions lost as U.S. cities divest from banks funding the Dakota Access Pipeline. (Photo: Joe Piette/flickr/cc)

While Tribes Lose Courtroom Battles, #NoDAPL Divestment Campaign Takes Off

Pipeline battleground moves from courtrooms to banks

Nika Knight Beauchamp

A U.S. appeals court on Saturday shut down a last-ditch effort to put a stop to the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), allowing oil to flow as early as Monday.

The appeals court affirmed a lower court's ruling last week that decided against an emergency injunction, sought by the Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes, which would have temporarily halted the pipeline's operation while the tribes' lawsuit against the pipeline wends its way through the courts. (The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe is crowdfunding the ongoing, rising legal costs of the battle.)

As the tribes suffer the latest in a string of legal defeats, however, the fight against DAPL has been winning a series of major victories in different territory: the pipeline's financial backing.

Campaigns to divest from the pipeline and thus starve it of funding have been growing across the U.S. and around the world. Large cities such as San Francisco and Seattle have divested billions of dollars, and similar campaigns have emerged in New York, Albuquerque, N.M., and Raleigh, N.C., among other U.S. cities.

In New York, a #DivestmentDay rally in Union Square on Saturday saw campaigners call on the city to divest before closing their own personal accounts with banks financially linked to DAPL. In Washington, D.C., divestment campaigners will see a bill to cut the municipality's financial ties to Wells Fargo, a major investor in the pipeline, introduced Tuesday at a city council meeting.

Other cities have already severed those ties. "Between Davis, [Calif.,] Santa Monica, and Seattle alone—the three cities that have opted to sever their ties with Wells Fargo—the campaign will ultimately deprive Wells Fargo of more than $4 billion in deposits, fees, and more," writes Jimmy Tobias in The Nation.

In Norway, meanwhile, indigenous Sami people last week convinced the country's second-largest pension fund to divest from the pipeline. The Green Party in the UK has also urged British banks to stop funding the pipeline:

Ahead of the D.C. city council meeting Tuesday, divestment advocates are rallying at 4pm Monday in support of community members who will close their own personal Wells Fargo accounts. Supporters in D.C. are also asked to come to the council meeting at 10pm Tuesday wearing red, to signal solidarity with the campaign.

"Wells Fargo is a major investor in the Dakota Access Pipeline," the organizers, a coalition of environmental and indigenous rights groups, wrote in a statement. "By cutting ties with Wells Fargo, D.C. would be following the lead of Seattle, San Francisco, and Davis in ensuring our city does not fund this ongoing violation of Indigenous rights, land, and water."


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