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At Annual Meetings, Banks and Oil Companies to Face Questions About Arctic Drilling

Pressure is Mounting from Shareholders and Activists to Pledge to Stay Out of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

WASHINGTON - As major financial institutions and oil companies prepare to gather for their annual general meetings this spring, they’re facing growing pressure from shareholders and activists to commit not to engage in or give financial support for drilling in the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The Trump administration plans to hold the first lease sale in the coastal plain as soon as this summer. But some of the world’s most significant investors have warned against leasing in the refuge, citing reputational risk to companies or banks associated with destroying this iconic landscape and threatening the human rights of the Gwich’in people, who have relied on the land and wildlife there for their survival and way of life for thousands of years.

Already, a plan by SAExploration to conduct destructive seismic testing for oil -- the first step toward drilling -- has been delayed by as much as a year after a powerful public backlash and fear of litigation set back the administration’s permitting process. As a result, any oil company that participates in a lease sale this summer will be bidding blind, without information about what they’re buying or whether there might be oil under the 1.6 million acres of the coastal plain.

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Campaigns targeting oil majors BP, ConocoPhillips, Chevron, and ExxonMobil, as well as top American banks including Citi, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, and Morgan Stanley will be making their demands known at their meetings throughout April and May.

“Major banks and oil companies will be hearing from the public and their shareholders loud and clear that the Arctic Refuge is no place for drilling,” said Sierra Club Campaign Representative Ben Cushing. “Pursuing drilling in this unique wilderness would be bad for the environment, bad for human rights, and bad for their bottom line. The public is watching and demanding that these companies commit to staying out of the Arctic Refuge.”

“Drilling in the Arctic Refuge would permanently destroy the primary food source of the Gwich’in people, our culture, and our way of life,” said Gwich’in Steering Committee Executive Director Bernadette Demientieff. "The Trump administration may not care, but the American people do, and they do not want to see this sacred place ruined. Any oil company or bank that supports this destruction will have to answer to the Gwich’in and to the millions of Americans who stand with us.”

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The Sierra Club is the oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization in the United States. It was founded on May 28, 1892 in San Francisco, California by the well-known conservationist and preservationist John Muir, who became its first president. The Sierra Club has hundreds of thousands of members in chapters located throughout the US, and is affiliated with Sierra Club Canada.

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