Seattle Becomes First City to Cut Ties With Wells Fargo Over DAPL, Just Hours After Army Corps Grants Final Permit
Seattle City Council has voted to divest from Wells Fargo over the bank's role as a lender to the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and other business practices, including its financing of private prison companies, and a customer fraud case where employees opened as many as two million fake accounts.
The unanimous decision on Tuesday was met with cheers and a standing ovation from the crowd as Seattle became the first city in the nation to sever its ties with the San Francisco-based banking giant in protest of the controversial DAPL.
The Socially Responsible Banking ordinance directs city officials to end Seattle's contract with Wells Fargo once it expires in 2018 and to not make new investments with the bank for three years.
"The example that we have set today can become a beacon of hope" for activists across the country, said Councilmember Kshama Sawant, one of the co-sponsors of the legislation.
Native American Leadership Group sings at public comment, thanks Council for forthcoming vote to lapse contract w/… https://t.co/rhW8mfZtbt— Seattle City Council (@Seattle City Council)1486506678.0
Wells Fargo contends that it is one of 17 involved in financing the DAPL. Wells Fargo has $120 million in a $2.5 billion credit agreement funding the pipeline project and said it is obligated to carry out the agreement, according to the Associated Press.
"While we are disappointed that the city has decided to end our 18-year relationship, we stand ready to support Seattle with its financial services needs in the future," Wells Fargo said in a statement.
Approval of the measure occurred just hours after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers granted Energy Transfer Partners the final easement to drill under the Missouri River and finish the $3.8 billion project.
The completed 1,172-mile DAPL would carry oil from the Bakken formation in North Dakota to Gulf Coast refineries and export terminals via Patoka, Illinois. Its path crosses the Missouri River, which is the primary drinking water source for the Standing Rock Sioux reservation.
For months, the tribe and fellow Water Protectors have been trying to block construction of the DAPL. Protests have drawn thousands of people to Standing Rock. Hundreds of demonstrators still remain at the protest camps and thousands of U.S. military veterans have committed to returning to Standing Rock to continue the fight.
Pipeline opponents have urged banks to stop financing DAPL construction and have called on bank customers to pull money out of their accounts.
Olivia One Feather, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, told Seattle City Council, "When big cities such as this do the right thing, it sparks hope in the world."
"It's going to be a mixed blessing and timely at the same time," Lakota Tribal Member and DAPL opponent Matt Remle told Capitol Hill Times about the Council's vote in the wake of the Corps' decision.
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced Monday that 64 high-income nations have joined an effort to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine fairly, prioritizing the most vulnerable citizens, as Science reported. The program is called the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility, or Covax, and it is a joint effort led by the WHO, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Gloria Oladipo
In the face of dangerous heat waves this summer, Americans have taken shelter in air conditioned cooling centers. Normally, that would be a wise choice, but during a pandemic, indoor shelters present new risks. The same air conditioning systems that keep us cool recirculate air around us, potentially spreading the coronavirus.
Toxins in water produced by cyanobacteria was likely responsible for more than 300 elephant deaths in Botswana this year, the country's wildlife department announced on Monday.
How Did Cyanobacteria Poison the Elephants?<p>Cyanobacteria are microscopic organisms common in water and sometimes found in soil. Some cyanobacteria produce neurotoxins.</p><p>The cyanobacteria "was growing in pans" or watering holes, the principal veterinary officer of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, Mmadi Reuben, told reporters.</p><p>Reuben said the deaths had "stopped towards the end of June 2020, coinciding with the drying of pans."</p><p>"However we have many questions still to be answered such as why the elephants only and why that area only? We have a number of hypotheses we are investigating," added Reuben.</p><p>Similar elephant deaths have also been recorded in neighboring Zimbabwe.</p>
Climate Change to Blame?<p>Not all cyanobacteria are toxic but scientists say varieties dangerous to humans and animals are occurring more frequently as climate change drives up global temperatures.</p><p>Southern Africa's temperatures are rising at twice the global average, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.</p>
Elephant Paradise?<p>Africa's overall elephant population is declining due to poaching. But Botswana, home to almost a third of the continent's elephants, has seen numbers grow to around 130,000.</p><p>Botswana's government said it was continuing studies into the occurrence of the deadly bacteria. In the winter, elephants hydrate themselves mainly by eating roots and bark, especially of the baobab tree.</p>
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By Alexandra Villarreal
As West coast wildfires color the skies dystopian red and orange and an aggressive hurricane season batters the U.S. Gulf coast, college students are demanding their schools take bold action to address the climate crisis.
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The National Hurricane Center has run out of names for tropical storms this year and has now moved on to the Greek alphabet during an extremely active hurricane season. Late Monday night, Tropical Storm Beta became the ninth named storm to make landfall. That's the first time so many named storms have made landfall since 1916, when Woodrow Wilson was president, according to NBC News.
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