Posted 12.01.2016

Is Your Bank Funding the Dakota Access Pipeline?

Steel pipe on the ground for some project depelovment

Photo Courtesy of Fotolia

When environmental activists recently wrote an open letter to several banks asking them to divest from a pipeline through Native American land in South Dakota, New Resource Bank was not on the recipient list. Our mission does not allow us to fund projects, like the Dakota Access pipeline, that harm local communities, damage the environment, and promote the consumption of fossil fuels. Our clients know that the money they keep in our bank helps benefit local communities and the environment.

Finance is foundational, and the everyday decisions banks make shape our impact on communities and the environment. As part of an effort to curb carbon emissions, environmental groups have recently begun targeting financial institutions that fund the fossil fuel industry, according to a recent article in the New York Times. The Dakota Access pipeline has become a primary target of these groups as its construction would destroy sacred burial sites, harm the Sioux water supply, and help enable long-term dependence on gas and oil. As environmentalist Bill McKibben wrote in Yes! Magazine, “At this point anyone who finances any fossil fuel infrastructure is attempting to make money on the guaranteed destruction of the planet.” According to McKibben, 38 banks have extended $10.3 billion in credit lines to companies directly involved in building the pipeline. (See the chart below from Food & Water Watch for which banks are involved).

Many people don’t realize that the money in their bank account is not just sitting in a vault. It is loaned out to companies that may or may not align with their values. Their bank account could be funding rainforest destruction, the Dakota pipeline and other fossil fuel development, industrial agriculture or the chemicals industry. A surprising number of people who oppose the development of such industries are supporting them unwittingly through their bank account and investment portfolio. However, values-based banks like New Resource are transparent with customers by communicating where their money is loaned. Clients can rest assured that all loans are vetted to ensure they are having a positive impact on communities or the environment.

“I encourage people to think about the question, ‘where does your money spend the night?’ Picture your money like a magic carpet that is flying around the world—would you be proud of where it is being invested and spent? Aligning your money with your values is one of the most important things you can personally do to make an impact on our society and planet. This goes beyond everyday consumption decisions and really has the most impact at the level of your bank and investment portfolio,” said Vincent Siciliano, New Resource Bank president and CEO.

While we at New Resource are saddened by the potential damage that the planned pipeline may cause to the water supply and sacred land of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in South Dakota, we are pleased to see attention focused on the role banks play in financing such projects. We hope that more financial institutions will see that values-driven lending benefits not only their clients, but the sustainability of local communities and the planet as a whole. We also hope others will consider making a donation, as we have, to the Standing Rock community to support their resistance. Here are two ways to donate: