The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Lyna Hinkel

New Yorkers urge De Blasio & Stringer to #DeFundDAPL, divest from risky fossil fuels

30 organizations call on De Blasio to cut banks backing DAPL as 100+ rally at Stringer’s office urging divestment


New Yorkers are coming together urging City officials to cut ties with the banks financing the Dakota Access Pipeline and divest the City's five pension funds from fossil fuels. This morning, 30 groups representing Indigenous rights, climate justice, community organizations, and more sent a letter to Mayor Bill De Blasio urging him to #DeFundDAPL.

Hours later, over 100 New Yorkers rallied at Comptroller Scott Stringer's office, delivering a divestment valentine with thousands of petition signatures urging the City's pension funds to divest coal, oil and gas holdings. Speakers included filmmaker activist Josh Fox, 10-year-old Ajani Stella, as well as individuals directly impacted by Superstorm Sandy and its aftermath.

"On this Valentine's Day, we're sending a clear message: we love New York, but we don't love it's ties to fossil fuels that threaten our climate and communities," said Betamia Coronel, US Reinvestment Coordinator and a native New Yorker. "New York has the potential to be a true beacon of safety and sanctuary, yet it continues to invest billions in fossil fuel companies perpetuating the climate crisis and in banks financing the dangerous Dakota Access Pipeline. It's time for De Blasio and Stringer to put our money where their mouths are."

Last Friday, Mayor De Blasio expressed public support for a Seattle-like divestment of the City's pension funds, cutting ties with the banks financing the Dakota Access Pipeline. The Seattle City Council voted unanimously to divest $3 billion from Wells Fargo, a major financier of the Dakota Access pipeline, as more than 40 #NoDAPL actions were held across the country.

Despite Indigenous-led global resistance, President Donald Trump used his executive power to approve the Dakota Access Pipeline, demonstrating the administration will prioritize Big Oil profits at the expense of people and clean water.

"Trump and his wrecking crew will do anything to pump up fossil fuel corporate profits and executive pay, including destroying indigenous people's rights by building the Dakota Access oil pipeline," said Rachel Rivera, a Sandy survivor and member of New York Communities for Change. "Our city can't afford more extreme weather events like Superstorm Sandy. On Valentine's Day we call on the city funds, led by Comptroller Stringer and Mayor De Blasio, to divest from fossil fuels and the banks like Wells Fargo financing the Dakota Access pipeline."

After reluctance and significant back-and-forth with Stringer's office, 10 year-old Ajani Stella hand-delivered more than 160 pages of petition signatures, urging the Comptroller to protect New Yorkers and drop fossil fuel investments from the City's more than $170 billion portfolio. Earlier this month, Comptroller Stringer announced the City will begin a long-awaited climate risk assessment of its investments.

The initial campaign for New York to cut ties with fossil fuels launched on the heels of Superstorm Sandy in 2012. In recent months, a the campaign to #DivestNY has ramped up with a broad spectrum of New York society joining the call. Major funds around the world, such as the Bank of England, have done thorough research around stranded assets and carbon risk to conclude that divestment is the way forward.

"Comptroller Stringer's study needs to tell the City's pension fund trustees and its taxpayers how the City will manage a fossil free portfolio. The study needs to show the public the options. It is then up to the elected leaders of the City to take steps to protect the public interest from the poor financial performance of fossil fuel companies and their collective mishandling of risks created by climate change," said Tom Sanzillo, Director of Finance at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, and former Deputy Comptroller of New York State. "We look forward to meeting with the Comptroller and the consultants responsible for the report to discuss the future of the CIty's pension funds"

To date, more than 600 institutions across 76 countries representing over $5 trillion in assets have committed to some level of divestment, doubling in size in just one year. Notable motions in New York to cut ties with fossil fuels include Amalgamated Bank, Cooperstown, NY, the New School, and the American Museum of Natural History.

A recent report showed humans are causing the climate to change 170 times faster than natural forces. New Yorkers know who is responsible: Big Oil and its political allies knowingly perpetuating climate change. #DivestNY will ramp up pressure on Stringer and New York officials in the weeks to come, including mobilizing for the People's Climate March on April 29, 2017.

350 is building a future that's just, prosperous, equitable and safe from the effects of the climate crisis. We're an international movement of ordinary people working to end the age of fossil fuels and build a world of community-led renewable energy for all.