On February 7th, the Seattle City Council voted unanimously to stop doing business with Wells Fargo Bank because it has investments in the companies behind the Dakota Access pipeline project. Seattle currently does about $3 billion a year in business with Wells Fargo. “The example that we have set today can be a beacon of hope to activists all around the country seeking to change the economic calculus of corporations who think that investing in the Dakota Access pipeline will be good for their bottom line,” said council member Kshama Sawant after the vote. “We’re making it bad for their bottom line.”
The decision comes on a day that brought troubling news for the protesters in Standing Rock, North Dakota, who oppose the completion of the pipeline. Following instructions from putative president Donald Trump, the Army Corps of Engineers on Tuesday notified Congress that it intended to issue the final easement for the pipeline as soon as Wednesday. Trump has made the increased use of fossil fuels a mainstay of his energy agenda.
Wells Fargo is one of 17 investors in the pipeline. The company says it has loaned about $120 million of the $2.5 billion that Energy Transfer Partners has borrowed to build it. But filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission shows the bank has issued $347 million in credit to the companies building the pipeline and administers a $3.7 billion line of credit held by Energy Transfer Partners.
Seattle is a leading city when it comes to promoting social justice ideas. It is home to an enormous number of highly educated engineers who staff the areas growing list of high tech companies like Microsoft and Boeing. Tesla has recently opened offices in the area to support its global satellite-based internet project. It is where a federal judge last week ruled the Trump immigration ban was unconstitutional and it is home to a large native American population.
The decision by the Seattle City Council sets up an interesting new question. Who will the city use as its bank in the future? Virtually every major national bank has ties to the Dakota Access pipeline. Smaller banks and credit unions may not be large enough to handle the amount of banking business the city needs. Councilman Mike O’Brien expressed support for Washington to establish a state-owned bank, a proposal also being pushed by a state lawmaker in Olympia. Others have talked about a city-owned bank.
The other question is, what will happen to the protesters once the Trumpians decide to ram the pipeline down the throats of the protesters? President Obama was sympathetic to the the plight of the protesters but The Donald has shown he has no compassion for people, only profits. The possibility of a violent end to the protest that will make Waco look like a walk in the park is growing stronger every day.
Source: Los Angeles Times