Climate Activists Target Major Banks in Fight to Defund Toxic Line 3 Pipeline

NEW YORK – In an effort to draw a proverbial “line in the sand” against continued investment in fossil fuel projects, activists are taking their fight once again to Wall Street. They are demanding 18 major banks walk away from a $2.2 billion loan with Enbridge, the corporation that is currently attempting to build the Line 3 tar sands pipeline across indigenous lands in Minnesota.

“Less than two months from now, on March 31st, 18 banks have a $2.2 billion loan to Enbridge due for renewal. Between now and then, we are going to do everything in our power to make it loud and clear to bank executives: They must walk away from Line 3 ― or there will be consequences,” said Amy Gray, a Co-Coordinator of Stop the Money Pipeline.

Beginning today, Stop the Money Pipeline — a diverse coalition of over 150 organizations pushing financial institutions to end support for fossil fuels and other climate-harming industries — will initiate a campaign aimed at banks to #DefundLine3. They will deluge CEOs and board members of targeted banks with emails and phone calls, organize Covid-safe street protests, rallies and social media campaigns to ratchet up the pressure.

Enbridge Inc., a Canadian energy infrastructure company operating across North America, has been pushing to replace its existing Line 3 pipeline with a larger pipe that would carry 760,000 barrels of tar sands oil per day from Edmonton, Alberta, through Minnesota, to Superior, Wisconsin. Instead of safely decommissioning the existing Line 3, Enbridge wants to abandon it in the ground and build an entirely new $7 billion pipeline.

As indigenous activists in Minnesota continue to fight a brutal on-the-ground battle to stall construction by chaining themselves to equipment, standing in front of tractors and using any means available, including the creative use of pianos – to stop construction activities,  STMP plans to take its  fight directly to the banks.

The banks that activists are targeting include US banks JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America, as well as TD Bank, the Royal Bank of Canada and the European banks Barclays Bank, HSBC, Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank. (See full list banks funding Line 3 here.)

For many activists Line 3 represents a watershed moment in the United States ability to move ahead of the impending Climate Emergency in a transformative way. Upon entering office, President Joe Biden cancelled the Keystone XL as promised and the current Dakota Access Pipeline has been derailed by legal challenges – and if they are able to force banks to end financial support to Line 3, it could serve as the death blow to the entire idea of fossil fuels as environmentally sound or acceptable investments.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) groundbreaking report all nations must cut global greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 and to net zero by 2050, if we are to keep global warming below the dangerous level of 1.5 degree Celsius above pre industrial levels. This small window becomes even smaller and some argue impossible unless we shift dramatically from fossil fuel investments and usage.

“If built, Line 3, a massive toxic tar sands pipeline, would destroy the sacred wild rice beds my people depend on for our food, our culture and our way of life. It would contribute as much to the climate crisis as 50 new coal-fired power plants and bring thousands of out-of-state workers to northern MN in the middle of a deadly pandemic, threatening already vulnerable rural, Indigenous communities with the virus even more. It would also endanger 800 wetlands and 200 waterways,” said Tara Houska, (Couchiching First Nation) tribal attorney to STMP supporters in an email letter today.

Tara’s struggle has drawn national attention and increased hope, particularly after President Biden cancelled Keystone XL. Major figures including Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-MN) have visited the front lines and Rep. Omar recently penned a letter to President Biden saying “Under even the best-case scenarios for climate change, we cannot afford to build more fossil fuel infrastructure. That is especially true for projects like Line 3, which are designed for the dirtiest and most carbon-intensive fossil fuel there is, tar sands crude oil. Climate change is not just a risk, but a risk multiplier – all of the other known and unknown impacts of Line 3 will be greatly exacerbated by climate change.”

In a release from the Congresswoman’s office, she voiced the concerns of Indigenous communities and activists are also extremely worried about Enbridge’s track record of toxic spills which shows “Enbridge has presided over some of the worst pipeline catastrophes in our nation’s history. They amassed over 800 spills between 1999 and 2010 alone, including the devastating Kalamazoo River disaster, the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history. They’ve been sued by multiple states for failing to adequately inspect and operate their pipelines.”

The Congresswoman’s worries about the environmental impact of Line 3 are not without merit.

 For climate activists, Line 3 is symbolic of Donald Trump’s toxic legacy to indigenous people and our nation. Its construction would add another 193 million tons of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere annually, which would be as bad as putting another 38 million vehicles on the road.

While increasing numbers of notables are joining the struggle to end Line 3, STMP will utilize the building momentum to engage in a series of protests, as well as media and social media campaigns designed to highlight the role of banks in funding the climate crisis and to reinforce the idea that the return on investments in fossil fuels no longer serves our best interests as a planet and is certainly not worth our future.

“Funding Line 3 is an unconscionable act at any time, but especially during a time when there is but a small window for us to move toward a zero-carbon economy in a way that ensures a future for the next generation simply because some JP Morgan or Bank of America executive prioritize profits over people is sickening. We won’t let them take our future – not without a fight,” noted Alec Connon, Co-Coordinator at Stop the Money Pipeline.

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