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Global Protests Target Banks Funding Line 3 Tar Sands Pipeline

WASHINGTON -

Today across 8 countries, 4 continents, and 50 U.S. cities, hundreds of climate and Indigenous rights activists are protesting 20 banks that have backed loans for Enbridge, the company constructing the Line 3 tar sands pipeline through Anishinaabe territory in Minnesota. The protests feature elaborate and artful displays such as a body mural in Seattle spelling “Defund Line 3,” a fake oil spill in New York, a large floating banner display in Chicago, a fake oil spill and giant dance party in D.C., and a street mural in San Francisco. Activists also effectively shut down branches of the 20 target banks in San Francisco, Seattle, London and others protested outside of branches in Japan, Switzerland, Sierra Leone, Costa Rica, the Holland, France and Canada.

“It [Line 3] violates Indigenous rights of the Anishinaabe people and their right to Free, Prior, and Informed Consent,” said Stop the Money Pipeline Communications Coordinator Jackie Fielder in a Friday segement on Democracy Now! Actor Mark Ruffalo and Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib both tweeted in support of the #DefundLine3 actions.

The protests are a part of Stop the Money Pipeline’s #DefundLine3 Global Day of Action and come after Enbridge secured a three-year $1.0 billion Sustainability Linked Credit Facility with CIBC, Scotiabank (Bank of Nova Scotia), Bank of Montreal (BMO Capital Markets), RBC Capital Markets and TD Securities. As of November 2020, these banks are also the biggest funders of Enbridge, having dedicated $48.45 billion to the company from 2016 to 2020 – including $9.11 billion in 2020 alone. The details of what makes the new credit facility “sustainability-linked” have not been disclosed. On May 6, a day ahead of the actions, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on international lending agencies to stop financing major fossil fuel projects, which he said are no longer economic investments. Three tribal nations—the Red Lake Nation, White Earth Nation, and Mille Lacs Bands of Ojibwe—are suing to stop the pipeline in court, arguing that it violates their treaty rights.

According to Enbridge’s Environmental Impact Statement, Line 3 would result in an additional 193 million tons of greenhouse gas being released into the atmosphere each year. According to one study, Line 3 would result in as much additional greenhouse gas being released into the atmosphere as the building of fifty new coal-fired power plants. Already, Enbridge is investigating claims of human trafficking after state documents obtained by the Minnesota Reformer show that the Violence Intervention Project in Thief River Falls requested roughly $250 for hotel rooms for at least two women who say they were assaulted by pipeline workers.

Key permits for the pipeline were granted to Enbridge by the Trump Administration weeks before Trump left office. Critically, the tide is turning on these destructive projects: President Biden canceled the Keystone XL pipeline on his first day in office, and Governor Whitmer of Michigan recently ordered a shutdown of Enbridge’s Line 5.

The protests are part of an ongoing campaign demanding that financial institutions stop financing climate chaos and violations of Indigenous rights. More than 250 people have now been arrested for taking action to stop the construction of Line 3. Since the #DefundLine3 campaign launched in February 2021, activists have sent more than 700,000 emails and 7,000 calendar invites to bank executives, protested at bank branches in 16 states, and made more than 3,000 phone calls, demanding that financial institutions stop funding Line 3.

The world’s biggest 60 banks have provided $3.8 trillion of financing for fossil fuel companies since the Paris climate deal in 2015, according to a report by a coalition of NGOs, even though  a significant proportion of existing reserves must remain in the ground if global heating is to remain below 2C, the main Paris target.

Participating organizations are a part of the Stop the Money Pipeline coalition, a coalition of over 150 organizations focused on holding the financial backers of climate chaos accountable. www.stopthemoneypipeline.com 

Simone Senogles, Red Lake Anishinaabe Citizen, Organizer for Indigenous Environmental Network:  "No amount of greenwashing and PR can absolve these banks from violating indigenous rights and the desolation of Mother Earth. By giving credit lines to Enbridge these institutions are giving the oil company a blank check to attack Anishinaabe people, steal our lands, and further guide this planet into climate chaos. Those who financially back Enbridge are directly implicated in its crimes. To put it bluntly, blood is on their hands."

Bill McKibben, founder 350.org:“Let’s just say it straight. These banks are trying to profit off the end of the world, and the ongoing desecration of Indigenous land. History will judge them for it, but we’re trying to speed up the process.”

Matt Remle, Lakota, Co-Founder of Mazaska Talks: “The Indian wars never ended. Instead of mining for gold, they’re drilling for oil and gas. Instead of laying railroad tracks through tribal hunting, fishing and gathering grounds, they’re laying pipelines. Wall Street financed Westward expansion and manifest destiny. Wall Street is financing violations against treaty rights and the climate crisis. Tribal opposition and calls for upholding Tribal treaty rights continues to be met with indifference and State sanctioned repression.  Settler colonization never ended. Despite this our peoples continue to resist. It would serve the broader population well to understand that our fight is their fight.”

Moira Birss, Climate and Finance Director at Amazon Watch: “Wall Street may think it can keep profiting off disrespect for Indigenous rights and desecration of the natural world, but it needs to think again. From the Kichwa in the Amazon to the Anishinaabe in Minnesota, Indigenous peoples and their allies are ramping up resistance, and we will hold accountable the financial enablers of this destruction.”

Carroll Muffett, President, Center for International Environmental Law (Washington, DC/Geneva, Switzerland) “Against the backdrop of rising climate chaos, the continued bankrolling of Line 3 and similar oil and gas infrastructure worldwide is fueling gross and systemic violations of human rights and Indigenous Peoples’ rights at a global scale.  It’s time for the big banks to recognize that they can and will be held accountable for their complicity in those violations.”

Osprey Orielle Lake, Executive Director, Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN): “Financial institutions must be held accountable for their role in financing the destruction of the climate, the violation of Indigenous rights, escalating harms to public health during a pandemic, and increased rates of violence toward Indigenous women living near ‘man camps’ associated with pipeline construction. In solidarity with Indigenous leaders we are calling for fossil fuel divestment to protect the water and climate, and the health and survival of Indigenous communities. As multiple crises in 2021 proliferate, business as usual must not and cannot continue. Now is the time for financial institutions to align with the Paris Agreement, respect human rights, divest from Line 3 and planet-wrecking companies and instead invest in our communities, renewable energy and a regenerative economy. There is no time to lose!”

Alec Connon, Stop the Money Pipeline, Coalition Co-coordinator: “Nearly every major US bank has now promised that they will align their business with the Paris Agreement. But the fact that those exact same banks are continuing to bankroll a tar sands oil pipeline that is completely incompatible with the Paris Agreement and curtailing climate chaos shows just how hollow their promises are.”

Amara Jones- Youth Emergency Auxiliary Service-Sierra Leone: “With current carbon emission rates, we are emitting more carbon than the Earth can properly sequester. Thus, we need solutions that will help the Earth speed up its sequestration process. To restore healthy levels of CO2, we need to sequester one trillion tons of carbon dioxide.”

Leila Mimmack, Fossil Free London: "Today, Londoners are standing with the water protectors and activists who have been relentlessly campaigning against Line 3.  We want to bring the voices that have been protesting this destructive pipeline to the doorsteps of these banks in London's financial hub. Billions of dollars have been invested into Line 3 and these institutions are complicit in crushing indigenous treaty rights and the further locking in of the climate crisis. We stand in solidarity calling out these banks to Defund Line 3.”

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The Stop the Money Pipeline coalition is over 160 organizations strong holding the financial backers of climate chaos accountable.

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