Santa Barbara Votes To Divest From Banks Funding Dakota Access Pipeline

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SB votes to divest $6.25 million from DAPL, sets stage for $14 million more.

Santa Barbara City Council votes to move toward divestment of $20 million from banks funding the Dakota Access Pipeline, adopts socially responsible investment criteria.*

SANTA BARBARA, California / village of Syuxtun

On 9/19/17, Santa Barbara City Council voted to proceed toward divesting approximately $20 million from banks funding the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). This includes the early sale of $2.25 million in investments with Wells Fargo & Goldman Sachs. Also, a $4 million note with Union Bank has matured and will be reinvested according to ethical investment goals, to the extent that such investments achieve “substantially equivalent safety, liquidity and yield” compared to traditional investments.

These decisions come after a year of public pressure by the Santa Barbara Standing Rock Coalition (SBSRC), Chumash tribes, and allied groups. The City Council decided it is in the city’s best interest to prioritize social responsibility goals rather than align with companies that disrespect indigenous treaties, commit human rights abuses, and destroy the environment. The policy specifically discourages investments in entities that “manufacture, distribute or provide financing to industries such as tobacco products, weapons, military systems, nuclear power, and fossil fuels,” and encourages companies that “support community well being through safe, environmentally sound practices, and fair labor practices.”

“Thank you city council members for taking a chance to support the Earth, by divesting from the very people who have no regard for her, who invest in companies that create weapons of mass destruction, gouging the Earth for gain rather than mankind.” said Ernestine Ygnacio-De Soto, Chumash Elder of the Barbareño Band of Chumash Indians.

While the city currently has its $14 million checking account with Union, that contract expires at the end of this year. The new socially responsible investment (SRI) criteria will then be included in the city’s evaluation process.

Worldwide, more than $4 billion have been divested from banks funding DAPL. Santa Barbara is now one of the first cities in the U.S. to combine fiduciary and social responsibility in its investment policy, along with Los Angeles, Santa Monica, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland and others.

“This important accomplishment legislates a fundamental change in how our city does business by injecting compassion into finances. It’s not acceptable to profit from exporting the risks to the environment and humanity, dumping poison in our neighbor’s backyard and again threatening the Lakota/Sioux Nations. We are all in this together, we must be if we are to survive.” stated Emiliano CampobelloSBSRC lead activist and tribal liaison.

“When the city council passed our solidarity resolution last November it was a milestone.” said SBSRC co-founder and lead organizer Grace Feldmann. “It laid the groundwork for divestment. Today, our city council put their money where their words and hearts were. I am so grateful for everyone’s hard work, and so proud to see Santa Barbara rise to its reputation as a national leader defending the environment and social justice.”

*A previously reported total figure of $40 million, based on a high Union bank account balance from January 2017, did not accurately reflect the AVERAGE balance.

The Santa Barbara Standing Rock Coalition is a grassroots, volunteer led group working on the intersection of Indigenous rights and climate justice.

Link to City of SB’s Solidarity Resolution w. Standing Rock Sioux/Lakota, November 2016