15 Top Groups Divest from 'Pipeline Banks'
Coming on the heels of last week's announcement to abandon the Paris climate accord, a group of leading national social change organizations announced Tuesday that they are divesting funds from "pipeline banks" and instead banking in alignment with their values. This growing international movement represents the next wave of institutions and individuals refusing to do business with banks financing risky fossil fuel infrastructure projects like the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), Keystone XL, Trans Mountain and others.
The 15 U.S.-based organizations represent more than 13 million combined supporters. These groups have either already moved organizational money out of banks that finance DAPL and/or other tar sands pipelines, are in the process of doing so or never held an account in such banks in the first place. They currently, or will soon, use banks that they consider more socially responsible in principle and practice.
The groups include: 350.org, Climate Hawks Vote, CREDO, Earth Guardians, Friends of the Earth, Green America, Honor the Earth, Institute for Policy Studies, League of Conservation Voters, The Hip Hop Caucus, Oil Change International, Potlach Fund, Rainforest Action Network, Sierra Club and the U.S. Climate Action Network (USCAN).
"Shifting investments away from fossil fuels can help banks improve not just their social license but their bottom line—investments in clean, renewable energy have proven to be a boon to both our economy and our environment," Lena Moffitt, senior director of the Sierra Club's Our Wild America Campaign, said. "The people are watching where and what banks sink their funds into, and they will not back down until every last one commits to investing in a future that benefits their communities, their economies and their health."
According to Shorting the Climate, a report documenting big bank support for fossil fuel infrastructure, the top global and U.S. banks provided $785 billion for fossil fuel infrastructure such as coal and tar sands development from 2013 through 2015. Advocates are taking action to ensure that banks do not continue to finance and lock in infrastructure that will push the world past the Paris climate agreement objectives.
"Now, more than ever, organizations and individuals are waking up to the troubling reality of what their banks are supporting with their money," Vanessa Green, campaign director for DivestInvest Individual, said. "It's time for everyone to invest in our future and divest from projects and businesses that harm our environment. If our President won't do the right thing, then we all need to step up and do it ourselves."
After recent bank protests and a burning global spotlight, several banks have dropped investments in DAPL or have committed, as U.S. Bank recently did, to revisit their financing of future fossil fuel projects threatening Indigenous sovereignty, water and land. But as one form or other of bank financing continues for existing and proposed pipelines, efforts to defund them continue.
"For too long decision-makers have put the profit of polluters over the lives of real people," Mustafa Santiago Ali, senior vice president of Climate, Environmental Justice & Community Revitalization for the Hip Hop Caucus, said. "Divesting in those who support those decision-makers and polluters is a way we are fighting back."
Last month, a coalition of grassroots Indigenous groups from across Turtle Island and 121 First Nations and Tribes of the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion launched an expanded pipeline divestment campaign. With a focus on 17 primary target banks, they call on "individuals, businesses, organizations and governments to withdraw their money from these banks" until they stop financing Enbridge, Kinder Morgan and TransCanada, the companies behind the Dakota Access Pipeline and four proposed new tar sands pipelines projects. The Mazaska (Money) Talks campaign and aligned public petition are catalyzing account closures—currently over $3.6 billion—to tally the business lost due to the banks' continued involvement.
"Divestment has been a hugely successful tactic in confronting the global climate crisis and is now shining a bright light on the assaults on the sovereignty, land and water of First Nations people perpetuated by fossil fuel billionaires and their dirty pipelines," Jenny Marienau, U.S. campaigns director at 350.org, said. "Just this May during 350.org's Global Divestment Mobilization, thousands of people attended over 260 events in 45 countries on six continents to put pressure on institutions to break their financial ties with fossil fuel companies."
Most major banks are invested in fossil fuel companies and infrastructure projects like pipelines, refineries and export terminals, among other risky industries. A growing number of online resources exist to help account holders identify alternatives like small and medium-sized banks, credit unions, CDCUs and CDFIs that support a clean and equitable energy transition, local economic development, fair housing, sustainable food systems and more.
Santa Barbara Becomes First California City to Pass Resolution Against Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling
The Santa Barbara City Council approved a resolution Tuesday opposing new drilling off the California coast and fracking in existing offshore oil and gas wells. The resolution is the first in a new statewide campaign to rally local governments against proposals to expand offshore fossil fuel extraction in federal waters.
The vote—which makes Santa Barbara the first California city to oppose both fracking and new offshore drilling—follows President Trump's April 28 executive order urging federal agencies to expand oil and gas leasing in federal waters. The order could expose the Pacific Ocean to new oil leasing for the first time in more than 30 years.
Starting Wednesday, the vast majority of Americans can learn about every potentially harmful chemical in their drinking water and what scientists say are the safe levels of those contaminants. The Environmental Working Group's (EWG) new national Tap Water Database is the most complete source available on the quality of U.S. drinking water, aggregating and analyzing data from almost 50,000 public water systems in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
The organization has earned a reputation for ambitious data-mining research projects that shake up policy debates and consumer markets. EWG's online Farm Subsidy Database, listing millions of subsidy recipients, and its Skin Deep guide to more than 70,000 personal care products, draw tens of millions of visitors every year.
By Stacy Malkan
Ever since they classified the world's most widely used herbicide as "probably carcinogenic to humans," a team of international scientists at the World Health Organization's (WHO) cancer research group have been under withering attack by the agrichemical industry and its surrogates.
In a front-page series, The Monsanto Papers, the French newspaper Le Monde described the attacks as "the pesticide giant's war on science," and reported, "to save glyphosate, the firm [Monsanto] undertook to harm the United Nations agency against cancer by all means."
The lengthy report from the Energy and Policy Institute uses reams of archival documents to demonstrate that utility industry representatives knew as far back as 1968 that burning fossil fuels could trigger "catastrophic effects" on the climate.
By Sharon Kelly
The Pennsylvania's Environmental Hearing Board ordered Sunoco Pipeline LP Tuesday to temporarily halt some types of work on a $2.5 billion pipeline project designed to carry 275,000 barrels a day of butane, propane and other liquid fossil fuels from Ohio and West Virginia, across Pennsylvania, to the Atlantic coast.
On July 19, three environmental groups presented Judge Bernard Labuskes, Jr. with documentation showing that the project had caused dozens of drilling fluid spills and other accidents between April and mid-June.
By Andy Rowell
The UK has followed France in banning the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2040, as part of its plan to tackle chronic air pollution in cities. The government has been coming under intense pressure to act, with an estimated 40,000 people dying prematurely a year from air pollution.
By Colleen Curry
People traveling across America today can, if they're lucky, pitch a tent in the same exact spot that early American explorers and map-makers Lewis and Clark did, amid the jagged rocks and sweeping plains of the Upper Missouri River Breaks in central Montana.
Brent Rose, a journalist and filmmaker who has been traveling around the U.S. in a van for two years, was one of the lucky ones.
Kyara, a killer whale born at SeaWorld San Antonio just three months ago, died Monday at the park, as reported in this video from Newsy. Kyara is the last orca to be born in captivity under the SeaWorld breeding program, which shut down in 2016.
In a statement, SeaWorld said the cause of death was "likely pneumonia" and that "Kyara had faced some very serious and progressive health issues over the last week."