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  • Opponents fear the Dakota Access Pipeline could contaminate the drinking water of millions.

    Opponents fear the Dakota Access Pipeline could contaminate the drinking water of millions. | Photo: AFP

Published 8 September 2016

Dozens of banks are paying millions of dollars to see the Dakota Access Pipeline completed, but none want to talk about it.

The fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline has expanded to banks, with 67 actions planned against the financial institutions funding the project.

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Activists in California are organizing actions next week in the state capital, Sacramento, and in San Francisco, both targeting Citibank, which has contributed over US$91 million to Energy Transfer Partners, which owns a 45 percent stake in the project.

Between 1,000 and 3,000 mostly Native American protesters have been protesting the pipeline since it was approved in July on the basis that it would cross treaty-protected tribal land and pollute the drinking water of millions. The pipeline would transport about 500,000 barrels of crude oil a day through Iowa, Illinois, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Citibank pushed the other banks to come on board the project, according to a recent study by Food & Water Watch, many of which contributed even more money. The two companies behind the project, Energy Transfer Partners and Sunoco Logistics, are funded by 26 and 24 banks, respectively.

Six of those financial institutions—JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Citibank—lent a total of US$200 billion to the pipeline, seen as a lucrative long-term investment in the emerging oil and gas industry in the U.S.

Few of the banks want to talk about it, though. “While we respect the important opinions involved in this dispute, Wells Fargo does not take positions on public policy issues that do not directly affect our ability to serve our customers or support our team members," Wells Fargo spokesperson Alan Elias told teleSUR.

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“We do business only with companies that have demonstrated a strong, ongoing commitment to complying with all laws and regulations.”

Morgan Stanley wrote in an email to teleSUR, "We will decline to comment."

Krystal Two Bulls, project organizer for the two weeks of solidarity actions, told teleSUR that none of the other investors have responded. The planned actions are targeting the main investors only, including Citibank, TD Securities and Mizuho Bank and the main stakeholders, including Energy Transfer Partners, Sunoco Logistics Partners, Phillips 66, Enbridge Energy Partners and Marathon Petroleum Corp.

The Sacramento action, organized by California Labor for Bernie Sanders, is planning a follow-up picket in front of the Army Corps of Engineers, which approved the pipeline without consulting the affected tribes.

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