Divestment Movement Against Dakota Access Continues With Investor Pulling $34.8M

By Yessenia Funes Mar 02, 2017

Those behind the Dakota Access Pipeline may have succeeded in shutting down the Oceti Sakowin Camp where, at its height last year, thousands of pipeline opponents gathered. But that doesn’t mean the fight is over. Just yesterday (March 1), a private investor pulled $34.8 million from three companies involved in the $3.78 billion project, reports The Guardian.

Storebrand, a Norway investment group that manages the pensions of 1.2 million Norwegians, announced yesterday that it sold off its shares in Phillips 66, Marathon Petroleum Corporation and Enbridge, all partial owners of the 1,172-mile long pipeline.

From the company’s announcement, translated from the original Norwegian via Google Translate:

Since the conflict became known…Storebrand worked actively on it. With expertise in house, and a good international network, we believed that it was better to remain invested and use our power to influence. We have both worked with other investors through the [investor group focusing on indigenous rights] at the United Nations and had direct contact with the companies. Before Christmas, President Obama criticized the process and urged those responsible to rethink. When it was decided that the route should be reconsidered just before Christmas, we saw it as a promising signal.

But a few weeks ago came the news that President Donald Trump had given the green light. The pipeline will be built, and it should go in the conflicted route. As a last attempt, Storebrand was one of three founders behind a crass investor letter. 170 investors urged banks that lend money directly to the project to use their power to influence. This didn’t appear to succeed.

Therefore we see now we have no alternative but to sell all the shares we had in the three companies involved in the construction of the pipeline. 

Divestment—along with the courts—appears to be the last available option for water protectors to stop the nearly complete pipeline from transporting crude oil. Norwegian bank DNB pulled $3 million in holdings in November and mutual fund Odin Fund Management, also in Norway, sold $23.8 million worth of shares that same month.

The City of Seattle finalized its decision to end its contract with Wells Fargo, a bank financing the project, through a city council vote February 7. The Muckleshoot Tribal Council followed suit through a February 3 vote. So did the city of Davis, California on February 8. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio wrote a letter in February to 17 banks and financial institutions urging them to withdraw from Dakota Access.

As The Guardian noted, activists in San Francisco are also trying to persuade the city’s Board of Supervisors to divest from banks connected to the pipeline.

“The thing about the No DAPL movement is that it’s everywhere,” said indigenous activist Jackie Fielder to The Guardian. “We have the economic power to show companies that when they finance an environmentally racist project and hire private security and collude with law enforcement, their bottom line will suffer.” 

(H/t The Guardian)