Protecting Communities and Water

A growing global network of oil and gas infrastructure threatens communities and people around the world.

In North America, Indigenous People are on the front line of that expansion as a result of hundreds of years of oppression. The fight to protect water, land and Indigenous rights from the Dakota Access pipeline put a spotlight on the many wrongdoings associated with such projects, including human rights violations that moved the United Nations to ask the United States government to halt that particular pipeline.

The call from Standing Rock to protect communities and the planet was not only inspiring but also based on facts. So much that a Federal United States court ruled that the Army Corps of Engineers did not have a sufficient environmental assessment before granting the permit for the pipeline’s construction. In short, the Corps failed to adequately determine the full risk of spills from the pipeline on both the environment and on the Standing Rock Sioux treaty rights.

Oil pipelines anywhere are a threat to water, a basic human right. The question is not if pipelines will spill, but when. The Dakota Access pipeline was leaking even before it started commercial operations and has already leaked several times in the months since those operations started operations. That’s the reality of these projects.

The human rights and environmental abuses inherent to pipelines have kicked off a powerful wave of pressure on banks to stop financing projects like the Dakota Access pipeline and the companies behind them. International institutions such as ING, DNB and BNP Paribas have already sold their stake in the Dakota Access loan, and a number of other banks have taken steps to review and strengthen their policies on human rights and free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC).

Seattle and a number of other cities in the U.S. representing more than USD$4 billion in investments moved to divest from Wells Fargo and other banks that still support the Dakota Access pipeline and other controversial fossil fuel infrastructure projects. More needs to be done. All banks in and outside the United States should distance themselves from Energy Transfer Partners and other pipelines’ companies because of their record on environment and human rights abuses.

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