From Ohio to New Mexico, Communities Come Together to Hold U.S. Bank Accountable

As Ohioans know, the Rover Pipeline has been a disaster since day one of construction. The pipeline, which runs through 18 Ohio counties, has been cited 21 times by the Ohio EPA for sludge spills and other stormwater and air pollution violations. In one of many incidents, its construction spilled more than 2 million gallons of drilling mud contaminated with diesel fuel into a protected wetland in Tuscarawas County in April; Rover later dumped that same material into local quarries near sources for public drinking water.

Throughout all of this, Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the pipeline, has received financial backing from U.S. Bank, in spite of the bank’s announcement last year that it would stop financing pipeline construction.

Rover Pipeline is just one among many fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure practices across the country, with funding and support from banks like U.S. Bank. Last week, I had the opportunity to travel from Ohio to Albuquerque, New Mexico, to join a powerful action outside U.S. Bank’s annual shareholders meeting to highlight communities’ outrage at the bank’s support for harmful fossil fuel extraction projects.

Since announcing that it would stop financing pipeline construction last year, U.S. Bank has raised more than $2 billion for pipeline companies including Energy Transfer Partners, Enbridge, Phillips 66, Marathon, and many more. In the New Mexico region, U.S. Bank financed Enterprise Products Partners, the company behind the Mid America Pipeline, which connects industrial fracking in the Greater Chaco Canyon region to the oil fields in the Permian Basin. The region is spiritually, culturally and traditionally significant to the Navajo, Hopi, Apache, Zuni, Ute, and Pueblo Peoples. Today, it is home to contemporary Native American tribes, including the Dine (Navajo) and Pueblo.

(Photo: Niko Dellios)

I joined our Rio Grande Chapter and the “Stop ETP” coalition of local and national environmental and Indigenous groups to call on U.S. Bank to end all financing of fossil fuel projects and to implement policies that recognize and honor Indigenous and human rights.

The rally began with local Pueblo and Dine representatives giving prayer and recognizing the Tiwa land that the rally took place on. Then speakers from Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, Louisiana, West Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and other communities threatened by pipelines, fracking, and pollution spoke about the effects of these projects.

(Photo: Cheryl Johncox)

This month, all across the country, concerned communities and organizations are coming together to rally at the big banks’ shareholder meetings to demonstrate the power of community voices holding banks accountable and urge them to stop funding projects that that create climate chaos, pollute our air and water, and threaten our public health and safety

Banks like U.S. Bank cannot claim to be environmentally or socially responsible until they stop funding these dangerous projects, and we won’t back down until they do just that.