The Keystone XL pipeline is back.
For almost a decade, a powerful coalition of First Nations, ranchers and farmers, environmentalists, youth fighting for their future and people from all walks of life resisted the construction of the 1,179-mile pipeline that would flow 830,000 barrels of oil a day from the Alberta tar sands to Nebraska, eventually heading to refineries on the Gulf Coast. Engaging in everything from lobbying to non-violent civil disobedience, they ultimately swayed Barack Obama to reject the pipeline.
Donald Trump revived the once dead pipeline with an executive order that unblocked the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, and set in motion a plan to curb regulatory interference on future pipeline projects. On March 24, 2017, the Trump administration approved TransCanada’s application to build the pipeline. The Trump administration’s plans to expand the nation’s pipeline infrastructure will only be stopped by a coalition willing to lead with their hearts and put their bodies on the line.
Rainforest Action Network’s strategy in response is straightforward: follow the money funding Keystone XL and take bold, courageous action to stop the construction of this horrible pipeline. We know that TransCanada, the Canadian oil giant building the pipeline, has recently received corporate loans from some of the biggest U.S., Canadian, European and Japanese banks. We know that another project loan may not be far off if TransCanada is to build Keystone XL.
JP Morgan Chase, Citibank and Wells Fargo are heavily involved in TransCanada’s financial dealings. Our plan is to organize, put pressure on these banks and change the story. In 2015, we proved that “when we fight, we win.” Now it is time for another round.
Who’s Banking TransCanada?
KXL is far from built. Projects need permits, but they also need money.
One way TransCanada could build the pipeline is to get a massive loan from a big group of banks to finance this specific project. This is probably not the most appealing option for TransCanada, given the incredible grassroots energy in opposition to the 17 banks who doled out $2.5 billion to build the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL). It didn’t work out too well for the banks on the loan, either.
But TransCanada also has revolving credit facilities totaling over $5 billion, which act like a giant credit card for the company that it can use for operating purposes as it pleases. The fact is, TransCanada might not need new financing to build the Keystone XL pipeline — which means the banks financing TransCanada are the banks financing Keystone XL.
The graphic above shows the 21 banks that re-upped this credit as recently as December 2016. Bank of Montreal and JPMorgan Chase are the leads. 17 of these banks are behind similar credit facilities of the companies behind DAPL, while 7 of them lent to the project itself.
Banks like Citibank, Wells Fargo, and TD Bank, who funded the Dakota Access Pipeline, actually renewed their support for TransCanada while Indigenous water protectors and allies were resisting at Standing Rock. These banks should know better.
Tar sands is the worst type of oil for the climate and extraction has contaminated the land, drinking water, and food of First Nations people in Canada. Indigenous leaders from Alberta’s tar sands and down the entire pipeline route have resisted the Keystone XL, while TransCanada has failed to secure their consent for development on their lands. Landowners in Nebraska have also stood strong in opposition against Keystone XL, preventing permits that would allow the pipeline to cross the state.
These banks have a choice: they can walk away from TransCanada, from Keystone XL, and from tar sands. Wall Street lenders and international banks can refuse to profit from climate disaster, and join a collective global effort to build a thriving future. Learn more from RAN’s Director Lindsey Allen: “The key to stopping KXL? Follow the money.”
Our communities and climate can’t afford it.
"When we fight, we win!"
That was RAN's message in November 2015, when the Keystone XL pipeline was finally rejected after a seven year battle to stop this environmental disaster. Keystone XL has always been about power: people power vs. the power of Big Oil.
Keystone XL has always been about power: people power vs. the power of Big Oil. Against a tidal wave of business-as-usual corporate money funnelled to lobbyists and paid advertisements, an unprecedented coalition came together. It’s important to remember that the KXL was considered a done deal — yet another rubber-stamped fossil fuel project. But when Congress supported the KXL, our movement pressured President Obama to issue only the third veto of his term.
Against a tidal wave of business-as-usual corporate money funnelled to lobbyists and paid advertisements, an unprecedented coalition came together. It’s important to remember that the KXL was considered a done deal — yet another rubber-stamped fossil fuel project. But when Congress supported KXL, our movement pressured President Obama to issue only the third veto of his term, striking down legislation that would have given the greenlight to KXL. A few months afterward, he rejected the pipeline altogether.
The KXL victory is a testament to the power of grassroots organizing. It is the result of millions of people taking action to prioritize long-term climate justice over short-term corporate profit. From gathering petition signatures and making phone calls, to hosting vigils, concerts and house parties, to engaging in direct action and principled arrests — communities rose up to stop this project. Nebraska landowners and Indigenous activists participated in civil disobedience alongside long-time environmentalists. Urban climate justice advocates worked with faith groups from the Midwest. People from all walks of life took a look at this this issue and decided to make it a referendum on the future of our country.
People launched tree-sits in the piney woods of East Texas and they encircled the White House by the thousands. Nearly one hundred thousand of you signed a Pledge of Resistance to use your bodies if necessary to stop business-as-usual if Obama indicated imminent approval.