These banks are funding a threat to Wet’suwet’en land and abuse of Indigenous rights, The Understudy, Rainforest Action Network (RAN), by Elana Sulakshana, Feb 19, 2020
Across Canada, protests have erupted in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en struggle against the Coastal GasLink pipeline. Indigenous peoples and allies are gathering at government buildings throughout the country, blockading the offices of Coastal GasLink and its financial backers, and shutting down ports, railways, streets, and bridges.
This Indigenous-led uprising was prompted on February 6, when the Royal Canadian Mounted Police used assault rifles, snipers, dogs, sound cannons and helicopters to carry out a five-day militarized police raid and remove peaceful Indigenous land defenders from their homes on unceded Wet’suwet’en territory.
For the past ten years, the Wet’suwet’en have asserted their sovereignty to stop fossil fuel companies from trespassing on their lands. Under ‘Anuc niwh’it’en (Wet’suwet’en law), the five clans of the Wet’suwet’en have not provided the free, prior, and informed consent to Coastal Gaslink and its parent company TC Energy to do work on Wet’suwet’en territory.
And yet, the Canadian government is trying to ram through the 420-mile Coastal GasLink pipeline, which would carry fracked gas from northeast British Columbia to a massive proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal on the coast.
The banks and investors supporting the Coastal GasLink pipeline are contributing to this clear abuse of Indigenous rights, even though many of them have stated policies acknowledging the right to free, prior, and informed consent of Indigenous communities.
Who’s banking the pipeline? February 2020 Update
1) JPMorgan Chase
JPMorgan Chase remains the primary banker of Coastal GasLink. JPMorgan Chase is the lead agent on the majority of TransCanada Pipelines Ltd.’s loans. The company currently has three loans worth a total of about USD$7.8 billion. Two of those, totaling USD$5.5 billion, were signed in December 2018 and extended by JPMorgan Chase and other banks just this past December 2019. JPMorgan Chase was the lead agent — the bank responsible for arranging the deal and coordinating between TC Energy and its lenders — on both of those new loans. That makes it the lead agent on more than half of TransCanada Pipeline Ltd.’s current credit. In fact, JPMorgan Chase’s infamous position as the world’s biggest banker of fossil fuels is in part due to its close relationship with TC Energy: Chase’s biggest fossil fuel client from 2016-2018 was TC Energy.
JPMorgan Chase is the #1 banker of TransCanada Pipelines Ltd., and therefore of the Coastal GasLink pipeline, despite an Environmental and Social Policy (see p. 17) that expects clients to obtain free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous Peoples.
2) Bank of Montreal
Bank of Montreal is the lead agent on a CAD$3 billion loan to TransCanada Pipelines Ltd. It’s also a lender on the two more recent loans and was a co-manager of the most recent bond issued by TransCanada Pipelines Ltd. in September 2019.
3) Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce
The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) was the sole manager on the most recent bond issued by TransCanada Pipelines Ltd. in September 2019, and also is a lender to all three current loans.
CIBC also advised TC Energy on a November 2018 deal that sums up the company’s backwards direction: the sale of its stake in wind energy facilities in Quebec, to the tune of CAD$630 million, in order to fund Coastal GasLink pre-development costs.
5) 17 other banks
At least 17 other global banks are also supporting TransCanada Pipelines Ltd. in a range of roles on its current lines of credit and recent bond sales. These include:
- Canada: Alberta Treasury Branches, Desjardins, Export Development Canada, National Bank of Canada, Royal Bank of Canada, Scotiabank, TD
- U.S.: Bank of America, Citi, Wells Fargo
- Europe: Barclays, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, HSBC
- Japan: Mizuho, MUFG, SMBC Group
How to Support
Take action: Actions and events in support are continuing! Find one near you in the “When Justice Fails: Wet’suwet’en Strong Solidarity Actions” Facebook event, or organize your own in response to the call for international solidarity. For more resources, check out the 2020 Wet’suwet’en Strong: Supporter Toolkit.
Sign the pledge: Join thousands of organizations and individuals in signing the pledge in support of Unist’ot’en. If you are part of a labour union, academic department, or community group, organize to write a Solidarity Statement in support of Wet’suwet’en jurisdiction and governance.
Flood the phone lines: Take one minute to call relevant politicians and demand that the Canadian government revoke this fracked gas pipeline and respect Wet’suwet’en jurisdiction. The following links connect you directly to their phone lines and provide sample scripts: click here to call British Columbia ministers and here for federal ministers.
Join RAN’s Year of Climate Action: Sign up to join our monthly actions to pressure JPMorgan Chase and other institutions to stop financing fossil fuel projects and human rights abuses.
Join Stop the Money Pipeline: Sign up for the growing movement calling on JPMorgan Chase, plus companies like Liberty Mutual and BlackRock, to stop fueling climate change.
I normally don’t copy as much of an article as I did with this one. But one of my proudest credentials is “@ran activist @jakislin”. I was trained by the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) in 2013 to organize and train people for nonviolent direct action as part of the Keystone Pledge of Resistance. The tweets below are related to a letter to the editor I had published in the Indianapolis Star, criticizing Indiana Senator Donnelly for his support of the Keystone XL pipeline. I don’t think my friends at RAN mind me copying this article so extensively.