NEW YORK, April 20—David Daniel is traveling 1,500 miles from the Piney Woods of East Texas to midtown Manhattan this week with a message for Citigroup, the nation’s third-largest bank: Don’t help a Canadian oil pipeline company endanger my community.
Citigroup is a major financier to TransCanada Corp. of Calgary, which is seeking State Department approval to build the Keystone XL pipeline, a proposed 1,980-mile pipeline that would carry tar sands oil from northern Alberta to Gulf Coast refineries. Citigroup has raised more than $5.8 billion for TransCanada and its related companies since 2007. At Citigroup’s annual stockholders meeting Thursday, April 21, Daniel will ask CEO Vikram Pandit to stop financing TransCanada.
Daniel is one of the landowners in five heartland states whose property lies in the path of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.
The $7 billionpipeline project would double the export of Canadian tar sands to the United States. It would carry tar sands oil across Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas—mostly across private property owned by farmers and ranchers. The route also runs through the Ogallala Aquifer, putting one-third of the groundwater used in American agriculture at risk of contamination from diluted bitumen, a more corrosive product than conventional crude oil.
“As a landowner in the path of Keystone XL, my family, just as so many others, has experienced trespassing, broken agreements, lies pertaining to payment for damages, lies about permitting, eminent domain abuse, and a complete disregard for our personal safety,” said Daniel, who lives outside of Winnsboro, Tex., about 100 miles east of Dallas. “I have no reason to trust TransCanada with the lives of my family. Mr. Pandit needs to hear about the human consequences of financing this dangerous project."
In September 2010, Citigroup managed a $1 billion bond for TransCanada, purchasing $295 million of notes issued. Last year, Citi raised more than $34 billion for the coal and oil industries, but raised less than two percent of that amount for companies developing renewable energy like wind and solar.
Also attending the shareholders’ meeting will be Alex Moore, dirty fuels campaigner at Friends of the Earth, and Brant Olson, oil campaigner at Rainforest Action Network.
“Leading banks recognize that Canada’s tar sands are a dead end,” said Olson. “Citigroup should cut its ties to the sector and help shift investment capital into critical clean energy technologies like green grids and electric transportation.”
“Citi has no business lending money to a disreputable company like TransCanada,” said Moore. “TransCanada is proposing to pump some of the dirtiest oil on Earth through Americans’ backyards, risking spills along the way, and is bullying ordinary Americans who stand in its way.”
Canada is the United States’ number one source of foreign oil, and the tar sands comprise about half of Canadian oil exports. Producing a barrel of tar sands oil emits up to 3 times as much climate-disrupting gas as producing conventional oil. Building Keystone XL would be the greenhouse gas equivalent of adding roughly 6.5 million cars to the road, or building 12 new coal-fired power plants . Tar sands extraction also uses huge amount of water, which ends up in massive toxic waste ponds that have never been successfully reclaimed.
Daniel, a former stuntman, is founder of Stop Tarsands Oil Pipelines, which is organizing Texas landowners against the project. If the project is approved, he says he’ll build a platform in one of the century-old elms on his land and stand his ground. "If I am in it, they can't cut the tree down."
Rainforest Action Network runs hard-hitting campaigns to break North America’s fossil fuels addiction, protect endangered forests and Indigenous rights, and stop destructive investments around the world through education, grassroots organizing, and non-violent direct action. For more information, please visit: www.ran.org