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U.S. Bank Raises $2 Billion in Oil and Gas Pipeline Finance Despite Pledging to Stop

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Since revising its environmental policy last year, U.S. Bank financed more than $2 billion to companies building oil and gas pipelines, including an estimated $480 million to Energy Transfer Partners, new analysis released Thursday by Oil Change International concludes.


U.S. Bank CEO Andrew Cecere won praise from indigenous rights and climate advocates in April 2017 when he announced to shareholders that U.S. Bank would "not finance the construction of oil and gas pipelines." Days later, U.S. Bank issued a revised environmental policy significantly narrower in scope than what Cecere described, limited to only project financing which had never been a significant line of business for the bank.

New research conducted by Oil Change International shows that since Cecere's promise, U.S. Bank financing activity with oil and gas pipeline builders has continued apace. The analysis comes days ahead of the U.S. Bank annual shareholder meeting in Albuquerque, New Mexico where pipeline opponents plan to question executives about Cecere's empty promise.

"U.S. Bank says trust and ethics are its core values, but its actions seem to show the opposite" said Brant Olson, U.S. program director for Oil Change International. "Adopting a meaningless policy to create the impression of care for the environment paints a troubling picture of U.S. Bank's priorities."

The analysis released Thursday finds that since announcing its commitment in April 2017:

  • U.S. Bank has participated in dozens of deals with pipeline companies, worth more than $40 billion, with U.S. Bank's estimated financial commitment totaling more than $2 billion.
  • U.S. Bank has served as a bookrunner or manager, meaning it was a lead financial institution, on numerous pipeline deals totaling more than $17 billion, of which U.S. Bank raised more than $930 million.

Of particular interest is financing for pipelines being built by Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), a company notorious for its controversial role in building the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline. In addition to the Dakota Access Pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners is seeking to build numerous oil and gas pipelines throughout the U.S. which have been met with massive resistance as well as numerous construction mishaps, violations and mandated work stoppages.

Oil Change International's analysis finds that U.S. Bank continues to finance ETP projects as follows:

  • U.S. Bank raised an estimated $480 million for ETP in transactions worth $7.25 billion since April 2017.
  • U.S. Bank underwrote two bond issues together worth $2.25 billion for Sunoco (a subsidiary of ETP), with U.S. Bank directly responsible for more than $280 million.
  • U.S. Bank was a lender on two revolving credit facilities for ETP, responsible for an estimated $200 million of $5 billion in total credit.

The analysis, "Empty Promise: U.S. Bank Continues Pipeline Finance" was published by Oil Change International in partnership with Indigenous Environmental Network, Earthworks, Greenpeace, MN 350, and Rainforest Action Network.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Oil Change International.

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