As Divestment Movement Grows, Wells Fargo Feels the Heat

It’s been a rough stretch for Wells Fargo. The bank has been in the news quite a bit lately over a series of fraud scandals and revelations about their questionable business practices, leading major cities like New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago to pull funds from the bank.

At the same time, a grassroots movement is growing to use divestment to hold Wells Fargo and other big banks accountable for their investments that prop up the dirty fossil fuel projects that threaten our communities and our climate.

During the height of the activism against the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL), the Standing Rock Sioux called on environmental groups to raise awareness about Wells Fargo’s funding of this egregious project and urge our members and supporters to move their money away from Wells Fargo. From the route’s threats to Native communities’ water supplies to the violence unleashed on peaceful protesters along the route, DAPL was just the most recent example of how Native people and communities of color are often disproportionately impacted by the construction of dirty fossil fuel infrastructure. As long as big banks like Wells Fargo continue to provide large-scale financing for fossil fuel extraction and pipelines, these communities and our climate will continue to suffer.

Out of this call from our Indigenous allies grew a nationwide campaign to stop banks like Wells Fargo from supporting fossil fuels by moving our own money into more responsible financial institutions and calling on our local governments to do the same.

Since then, the pressure on Wells Fargo has only grown. The bank has come under increased scrutiny over its discriminatory predatory lending practices and financing of other morally questionable businesses like private prisons. Cities across the country have divested, specifically citing the bank’s support of DAPL as a motivating factor. Local activists have also been protesting Wells Fargo over its funding of TransCanada, the company behind the controversial proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

This growing campaign has clearly not gone unnoticed. A Wells Fargo spokesperson recently responded to the protests with a letter to the editor defending their relationship with TransCanada. In the letter, they make the flimsy case that they have not yet invested project-specific funds for Keystone XL, since TransCanada does not have the necessary permits and is still struggling to round up customers for the pipeline, as well as touting their other investments in renewable energy projects, as though that cancels out their support for projects that would transport the dirtiest fuel on the planet.

They may try to distance themselves from Keystone XL or greenwash their record, but the fact remains that Wells Fargo is supporting the companies behind dirty and dangerous projects that threaten our communities and our climate. If your money is invested with Wells Fargo, it’s helping fund these projects, whether you like it or not.

People are demanding that their money not be invested in these toxic projects, and the movement is not going away. Not only are divestment efforts in cities like Los Angeles and Washington, DC taking off, but individuals are also growing empowered to make sure their own personal banking is in line with their values. Hundreds of people joined us for a tele-town hall last week to discuss the recent "Banking on Climate Change" report and how people can fight back by moving their money away from the big banks funding fossil fuels.  Already, more than 3,000 Sierra Club members and supporters have committed to help fight against Dakota Access and Keystone XL and the human rights abuses that come with them by divesting from Wells Fargo.

Wells Fargo is feeling the heat. Now is the time to keep the pressure up and send a message to big banks that there are consequences for their socially irresponsible actions, and that investing in dirty fossil fuel projects is bad business.

Join the movement today by committing to move your money and bank fossil free at:!