TD Bank must divest from DAPL

On Saturday, Feb. 11, Colby students and Waterville residents gathered outside TD Bank’s Waterville branch to protest the company’s financial support of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). This was only one of many protests that have taken place recently to try to stop Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) from building this pipeline.

Jeanné Gilliard ’17, Four Winds Native American Alliance leader, said they are targeting the banks “because politics is now run by money.”

DAPL is a $3.8 billion project, and $3.7 billion of that is from investors. “If you target where that credit is coming from, then they can’t make the pipeline,” Gilliard said. TD Bank has $360 million invested in the pipeline, according to Gilliard.

TD Bank’s contract with the company building the pipeline, ETP, ended Jan 1. As the pipeline was originally scheduled to be completed before 2017, “now lenders are able to exit from it at their will,” according to Gilliard. With these protests, Gilliard said, people are hoping to “force the banks to make a choice between their consumers or this project.”

In an effort to justify this pipeline, some claim that DAPL is the safest way to move oil. For example, according to the website DAPL Pipeline Facts, the DAPL “is the safest and most environmentally sensitive way to transport crude oil from domestic wells to American consumers.” However, ETP has an extended history of pipeline leaks and oil spills. In addition, according to the Bangor Daily News, only 22 percent of pipeline leaks in the last six years were detected ahead of time by the leak detection systems that companies use to ensure their pipelines are safe.

But pipelines leak. Oil spills and contaminates the land and water around it. There is nothing to suggest that this pipeline will be any safer than others.

DAPL’s original route had the pipeline cross the Missouri River to the north of Bismarck, North Dakota, but, according to the Bismark Tribune, it was rerouted because people feared for the safety of Bismarck’s water supply. According to federal regulators, Bismarck was a “high consequence area.” They considered moving the pipeline to where it threatened the Standing Rock Sioux’s water supply significantly less. They do not care about native people’s lives, only profits.

In 1868, the U.S. Government signed a treaty with the Sioux at Ft. Laramie that declared that the land making up the Sioux reservation was “set apart for the absolute and undisturbed use and occupation of the Indians herein named,” and that no treaty violating that “shall be of any validity.” However, DAPL threatens the Standing Rock Sioux’s land and livelihood.

“This is going against that treaty entirely because of how dangerous pipelines can be, especially if they spill,” said Gilliard.

The U.S. has a long history of, at best, ignoring any Native American living on the land it wants to use. DAPL is the latest in this pattern of environmental racism.

These protests are aimed at making people recognize “the impact that environmental racism has on people, especially on native communities, who are often the brunt of this,” said Gilliard.

With factories both surrounding and inside reservations, and pipelines going through communities or next to communities, the Sioux simply cannot live on the land undisturbed, like the U.S. government promised in the 1868 treaty.

Americans are living on stolen land, and we as a nation continue to refuse to treat the people whose land we stole with anything close to human decency.

We cannot allow this pipeline to be built, and ETP cannot build it without funding. TD Bank, and the 16 other banks invested in DAPL must divest. We must continue to pressure them.

There was a demonstration yesterday from 3:30 – 4:00 p.m., starting in Pulver Pavilion, then moving to Miller Lawn. At 7:00 p.m. in the Pugh Center, Four Winds livestreamed video from protesters at Standing Rock as they protest against forced eviction as the Army Corps of Engineers closes the protest camps.

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