Jade Begay, Indigenous Environmental Network, email@example.com, 505-699-4791
David Turnbull, Oil Change International, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-316-3499
Andy Pearson, MN350, email@example.com, 612-600-5951
Minneapolis, MN – Hundreds of Indigenous water protectors, concerned Minnesotans, and activists from around the country rallied today at the U.S. Bank Headquarters to demand that U.S. Bank uphold its promise to divest from oil and gas pipelines, including those by Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), the company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline.
The rally comes as U.S. Bank drives a massive public relations campaign surrounding the hosting of the Super Bowl at U.S. Bank stadium in Minneapolis. U.S. Bank is at the center of a growing campaign by indigenous, climate and community groups demanding it lives up to its own promises to stop financing fossil fuel projects.
In April 2017 U.S. Bank announced their Environmental Responsibility Policy which stated the bank, “does not provide project financing for the construction of oil or natural gas pipelines.” Since this statement, U.S. Bank joined credit facilities totaling $5 billion with Energy Transfer Partners.
Over the past year Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) has been responsible for violating Indigenous sovereignty by compromising and destroying sacred sites and burial grounds and enabling violence against water protectors by ETPs private security contractor, TigerSwan, who infiltrated and provoked violence at the nonviolent gathering in Standing Rock, ND.
In addition, Energy Transfer Partners has caused 328 dangerous incidents resulting in oil or gas spills, injury or death to a person, an emergency shutdown, explosion, fire, and/or property damage since 2006. All of these incidents and acts violate U.S. Bank’s principles.
In light of Energy Transfer Partners continuing to put communities at risk by building new projects like the Bayou Bridge, Mariner, Rover and Trans-Pecos Pipelines, Indigenous leaders, environmental justice groups, and activists rallied on the eve of the Super Bowl LII at the U.S. Bank Headquarters to hold U.S. Bank accountable and to demand that the bank commit to their promises and end their partnership with Energy Transfer Partners.
The rally began with a blessing by local Indigenous leaders and was followed by a speak out which included speakers from across the nation, including members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Protesters then marched from the US Bank Headquarters to the Nicollet bridge. This was a nonviolent action, when asked to disperse by local law enforcement protesters complied.
The following are statements from organizers and participants of the rally:
Joye Braun, Cheyenne River Sioux, Indigenous Environmental Network:
“Due to the broken promises by U.S. Bank and their funding of pipelines such as the Dakota Access Pipeline, we are already witnessing pipeline spills and accidents that are putting the environment and people at risk. We will not allow U.S. Bank or any entity for that matter, break their promises to the people, especially when it concerns the health and safety of our communities. Funding companies like Energy Transfer Partners is funding environmental disaster. It puts millions of people in jeopardy, violates tribal sovereignty, tramples on landowners rights, pollutes the air and water, turns a blind eye to the many horrific safety violations of this company, and condones such acts as bulldozing our ancestors’ graves. We demand U.S. Bank hold its promise to stop funding these pipelines and to stop threatening our land and water.”
Mysti Babineau, Anishinaabe, Climate Justice Organizer for MN350:
“By investing in Energy Transfer Partners U.S. Bank continues to fund pollution, corruption, climate chaos, suppression of constitutional rights, and attacks on indigenous people. We stand united against their disregard for life.”
Christine Nobiss, Plains Cree-Salteaux Decolonizer, Seeding Sovereignty and Indigenous Iowa:
“U.S. Bank is perpetuating the cycle of colonization that disenfranchises and oppresses those who are not ‘privileged’ enough to be part of middle/upper class American society. U.S. Bank funds the extraction industry and allows government-backed corporate conglomerates to move into poor communities and create havoc. Not only does the extraction industry add to climate change and destroy local environments during construction, spills, and explosions but it also institutes ‘man-camps’ which bring added violence and sexual assault to local communities. As an Indigenous woman, I’ve seen and heard first hand what man-camps have done to our First Nation communities, and it is frightening. These camps are one of many institutions in society that contribute to the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women, men, and children. This is on you, U.S. Bank.”
Ruth Breech, Senior Climate and Energy Campaigner at Rainforest Action Network:
“U.S. Bank’s announcement to stop project finance for oil and gas pipelines proved disingenuous and misleading when they took advantage of a loophole, and continued corporate finance of Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the controversial Bayou Bridge pipeline and Dakota Access pipeline. U.S. Bank did the right thing when they dropped support of Enbridge and the Line 3 pipeline. Now they have an opportunity — and an obligation — to do the right thing again: Drop Energy Transfer Partners. RAN is proud to stand with Indigenous leadership and water protectors in this critical fight.”
Ethan Buckner, Earthworks Energy Campaigner:
“U.S. Bank promised not to finance the construction of oil and gas pipelines. But they have. They’re trying to have their cake and eat it too by financing companies like Energy Transfer Partners that build pipelines rather than directly invest in the pipelines themselves. But that’s a distinction without a difference. ETP doesn’t respect indigenous rights, tramples landowners’ property, pollutes our air, water, and climate, and condones violence upon those who oppose them. It’s time for U.S. Bank to be the leader it claims to be and terminate its financial relationship with Energy Transfer Partners.”
Brant Olson, ClimateTruth.org
“U.S. Bank’s Environmental Policy is an empty promise. By using sneaky language, U.S. Bank created the impression it was making a bold move, but in fact the policy didn’t change much. U.S. Bank doesn’t provide ‘project finance’ anymore to oil and gas pipelines, but it has financed more than $1.4 billion for the companies that build them. To the environment and communities threatened by these pipelines, the difference is meaningless. The pipeline gets funded and built either way, and U.S. Bank is complicit in helping these climate-destroying, community-imperiling pipelines move forward.”
Lori Glover, Big Bend Defense Coalition/Two Rivers Camp: “When big banks turn a blind eye to social and environmental injustices of corporations they finance, they promote greed, corruption, and cruelty. Through Energy Transfer Partners, U.S. Bank profits from the brutality and incarceration of citizens protecting communities, destruction of private property, destruction of vital ecosystems, and the unfettered escalation of climate change in my backyard of Far West Texas and across the nation. Divest, U.S. Bank, and be a beacon of light for the world.”
For more information on the campaign to push U.S. Bank to stop financing Energy Transfer Partners, see: http://stopetp.org/USBANK/