The Standing Rock Sioux tribe issued a statement Monday welcoming the decision by Norway’s DNB Bank to divest from the Dakota Access pipeline, reportedly selling more than US$331 million in loans to build the pipeline, close to 10 percent of the cost of the project.
“Divestment and shareholder advocacy have been key to our fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline,” Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault said in a statement posted on the tribe’s website.
“Hundreds of investors — ranging from institutional investors to cities to individuals — have cut ties with DAPL, but the recent announcements from banks are an especially encouraging sign that our voice is being heard.”
DNB announced in November that it would review its participation in the financing of the Energy Transfer Partners project after pressure from the Norwegian Indigenous Sami people.
After meeting representatives from the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, among others, as well as the pipeline company, DNB decided to pull out, it said.
"By selling our stake, we wish to signal how important it is that the affected Indigenous population is involved and that their opinions are heard in these types of projects," senior DNB executive Harald Serck-Hanssen said in a statement Sunday.
“Additionally, DNB is a signatory to the Equator Principles, a set of environmental and social policies that require clients to — among other things — obtain Free, Prior, and Informed Consent from Indigenous Peoples,” the tribe’s statement said applauding the decision.
“With construction of DAPL nearing completion, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is calling on all investors behind DAPL to take action to address this blatant violation of tribal sovereignty,” it added.
The news came just days after Dutch bank ING Groep said it was selling US$120 million in loans from the Dakota Access pipeline, making it the first bank to offload its debt from the project.
ING and DNB were two of 17 banks financing the Energy Transfer Partners LP’s pipeline, led by Citibank, for a total of US$2.5 billion in credit.
The remaining banks include Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, BayernLB, BBVA, BNP Paribas, Citibank, Credit Agricole, ICBC, Intesa Sanpaolo, Mizuho Bank, Natixis, Societe Generale, SMBC, SunTrust, TD Securities, and Wells Fargo.
In February, law enforcement swept through an encampment occupied since August on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers property at the edge of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, after President Donald Trump issued an executive order directing the corps to grant an easement allowing the project to proceed.
Since then efforts to convince banks and lenders to divest from the pipeline have been gaining momentum as four U.S. cities, San Francisco, Seattle, Davis and Santa Monica, have divested from Wells Fargo, one of the banks lending money to the Dakota Access pipeline.
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe water protectors and their allies argue that the pipeline is being built on sacred land and could damage the area's water sources.
The action against the pipeline attracted more than 300 Native American tribes from across the United States in a show of unity and force.