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  • Activists hold placards in protest against banks funding the Dakota Access Pipeline in Manhattan.

    Activists hold placards in protest against banks funding the Dakota Access Pipeline in Manhattan. | Photo: Reuters

The bank became the third lender to sell its shares in the controversial project as Native Americans continue their divestment push.

BNP Paribas announced Wednesday that it had sold its US$120 million share in the joint US$2.5-billion Dakota Access Pipeline loan, becoming the third bank of the 17 involved to cut ties to the oil project amid a major divestment campaign by Native Americans and activists that was pushed for after the revival of the pipeline by the Trump administration.

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“The decision to divest the loan was made following an extended and comprehensive review of the project including consultation with all the relevant stakeholders,” the French bank said in a statement announcing the move. “The sale of our stake signals the importance of full and detailed consultation on projects that impact large numbers of stakeholders.”

BNP Paribas joins ING and DNB banks which divested from the project late last month citing issues with how the project affected the Indigenous people in North Dakota and the fact that they were not consulted about the pipeline that would run through their sacred lands and possibly damage their water source.

Standing Rock Sioux Tribe issued a statement later Wednesday welcoming the decision by the major financial institution.

“As corporate greed continues to fuel dirty energy projects on our land, it is heartening to see that some banks recognize the imminent harm to our people posed by DAPL, and are taking actions accordingly,” Dave Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, said using an acronym for the Dakota Access pipeline. “We appreciate BNP Paribas, ING and DNB leadership and their advanced understanding and respect of tribal sovereignty and Indigenous Peoples rights.”

In February, law enforcement swept through an encampment occupied since August on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers property at the edge of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota after President Donald Trump issued an executive order reversing the Obama administration’s halt on the project, and directing the corps to grant an easement allowing the project to proceed.

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Since then efforts to convince banks and lenders to divest from the pipeline have been gaining momentum as four U.S. cities, San Francisco, Seattle, Davis and Santa Monica, have divested from Wells Fargo, one of the banks lending money to the Dakota Access pipeline.

Other cities in the United States have also issued warnings to banks behind the pipeline saying they could consider divesting if they fail to put pressure on Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the project, to address the issues of the Native people.

The action against the US$3.8-billion pipeline last year had attracted more than 300 Native American tribes from across the United States in a show of unity considered historic.

Their cause also gained international support which led Norway’s largest private investor to divest more than US$30 million from three companies linked to the Dakota Access pipeline.

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