San Francisco — On the eve of Wells Fargo Bank’s annual shareholders’ meeting, 19 climate activists were arrested inside the bank's headquarters demanding that it stop lending billions annually to the oil and gas industry, whose products are propelling the planet towards disaster. Wells is the world’s second largest fossil fuel banker—second only to JPMorgan Chase—financing $46 billion last year out of a total $742 billion in financing made to the energy sector. The bank far outstripped its rivals by raising its industry financing total by $20 billion from 2020 levels, according to new research by a consortium of organizations including Rainforest Action Network. “Wells Fargo is the poster child of climate profiteering,” says Alison Kirsch, policy and research manager of RAN’s climate and energy program.
The world’s top bank to finance fracked oil and gas will no longer fund for oil and gas projects in the Arctic. Wells Fargo recently updated its environment policy to prohibit Arctic drilling and now joins Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase along with several other global banks. The bank supports the “principles of the Paris Agreement” and believes that “policy action is essential to make meaningful progress against the Agreement’s goal,” therefore will “forego participation in any project-specific transaction in the region,” including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the policy stated. “Wells Fargo’s decision to rule out funding for Arctic drilling is clear evidence that investing in the destruction of the Arctic Refuge would be toxic to any company involved,” Ben Cushing, Sierra Club campaign representative, said.
It took three years but a leading U.S. regulator finally got tough with probably the most lawless large U.S. financial institution. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, an arm of the Treasury Department, recently took action against a former chief executive of Wells Fargo. The action was in connection with the scandal in which the bank pressured employees to create bogus accounts to extract millions in fees from unsuspecting customers.
By Alex Cohen, for Earth Defense Coalition. On November 14, 2017, five water protectors took action in solidarity with front line Indigenous resistance efforts at Camp Makwa to stop the construction of the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline in Minnesota. The activists locked down to each other and used their bodies to disrupt business as usual at Wells Fargo, one of the major financial players behind this genocidal, extractive fossil fuel project. Wells Fargo has 743 million invested into Enbridge who is responsible for Tar Sands and the Line 3 pipeline threatening and ravaging through Indigenous lands, water, wild rice, and sovereignty in Minnesota. This action is one of hundreds taking place across the globe to call for divestment from financial institutions invested in the destructive fossil fuel industry.
By Nuala Sawyer of Earth First - The Wells Fargo and Co. headquarters at 420 Montgomery St. had a colorful awakening Monday afternoon, as hundreds of activists armed with paint created a large mural on the pavement outside. The group successfully shut the street down around noon, and in the span of about two hours, painted a 35-foot blue and black “thunderbird woman” on the asphalt, with “Water is Life!” emblazoned across the top. “It was kind of a collaboration between a whole bunch of people,” Northern Ontario-based artist Isaac Murdoch tells SF Weekly. “We’ve talked about coming down to the area for a while, so we put some feelers out.” Those feelers resulted in collaborations between Bay Area group Idle No More, 350.org, and members of Greenpeace. Someone loaned Murdoch and his crew a warehouse to make their stencil, and “it came together quite easily,” he says. Murdoch and arts collective Onaman have done their fair share of art around the country, in Standing Rock and at other locations, but this was the first piece they’d painted on the street. And they had lots, and lots, of help. Around 200 people turned out for the event — more than Murdoch had anticipated. “It was the people that made this really beautiful. We were just this one big family — even just for an hour and a half. It’s really really cool. It was all sorts of people, all different kinds. We were singing songs, we were so glad to be there. It was phenomenal.”
By Lainey Hashorva for Occupy - Are you facing serial cheating, abuse, lies, ongoing stress about money, issues of fidelity, questions about your future and are at a loss as to where to turn? Do you often feel angry, taken advantage of, less than, a voiceless victim? Did you put your trust and your nest egg, your faith and your money on someone or something that took you for all you’re worth, jilted your faith in the institution and robbed you blind? Deep down, do you think you may be going steady with a good looking grifter? I hate to tell you this, but you may be banking with a sociopath. That’s right. That harmless tall handsome stone wall that promises you the world, smiles at you shamelessly through bulletproof glass and marble floors, black suits and lollipops, is a sociopathic lover out to take all that you hold dear. All that you’ve put your faith, and money, into. This is not fifty shades of gray. It is now clearly black and white. Do you still bank with Wells Fargo? Can we talk? Maybe you have a thing for bad boys? Fast talking flashy – “Here’s a new credit card, baby,” Scaramucci-style pinky ring?
By Katherine Berko for Reston Now - A group of people went to Wells Fargo bank on Elden Street in Herndon on Saturday with no intention of withdrawing money. Instead, they held up signs and yelled chants, calling out the bank for its support of the Keystone XL Pipeline. The climate justice group 350 Fairfax protested July 8, which pipeline opposition group Protect & Divest had designated as an International Protect and Divest Day of Action. The day’s protests were meant to sway banks, such as Wells Fargo, from funding the Keystone XL Pipeline and other environmentally unfriendly projects such as Virginia’s Atlantic Coast pipeline. The 1,179-mile Keystone XL Pipeline, when completed, will run from Alberta to Nebraska and will transport up to 830,000 barrels of oil per day. There is an existing pipeline in the region, but Keystone XL will deliver the oil in a more direct route. It has caused controversy as some people see the pipeline as beneficial because it will create many construction jobs and bolster the nation’s economy. Additionally, if the pipeline is not built, the fear is other companies will transport the same oil but in riskier ways, such as via rail service. However, groups like 350 Fairfax fear for the environmental impact the pipeline’s construction may have.
By Ilana Novick for AlterNet - Conservatives have long had a monopoly on the love of states' rights and local government, but in Trump's America, it's the left that has seized the opportunities of what Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis called "laboratories of democracy." Even as the Dakota Access Pipeline inches toward completion, multiple cities including Seattle, San Francisco, Albuquerque, Raleigh, and Philadelphia have spoken with their wallets, severing ties with the oil pipeline-funding banks—in particular, Wells Fargo. On May 31, New York City became the latest city to join the effort, when Mayor Bill de Blasio and comptroller Scott Stringer announced that they will vote to stop New York City from entering into new contracts with Wells Fargo and strip the bank of its role as book-running manager for NYC's General Obligation and Transitional Finance Authority bond sales. Seattle was at the forefront of the movement back in February, when a coalition of activists convinced the city council to pass an ordinance that, as the Nation explained, "would effectively bar the local government from doing business with or investing in Wells Fargo in the future.
By Wakíƞyaƞ Waánataƞ (Matt Remle- Lakota) for Last Real Indians - NEW YORK — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Comptroller Scott M. Stringer jointly announced today that they will vote to prohibit New York City from entering into new contracts for deposits with Wells Fargo, as well as suspend the bank’s role as a senior book-running manager for NYC General Obligation and Transactional Finance Authority bond sales. The New York City Banking Commission, which is scheduled to meet today, and of which the Mayor and the Comptroller are members, approves and oversees the banks that hold City deposits. Currently, Wells Fargo holds contracts with the City to provide banking services, including to operate “Lock Box” services that hold taxes and fees collected by the City. There is approximately $227 million of City dollars held in Wells Fargo accounts currently. Additionally, Wells Fargo acts as a trustee to the New York City Retiree Health Benefits Trust, which has current assets of approximately $2.6 billion. Recently, Wells Fargo received a Federal Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) rating of “needs improvement.” The ban will be revisited only when the bank’s rating is raised.
By J. Gabriel WareJames Trimarco for Yes! Magazine - The movement to stop the controversial Dakota Access pipeline through financial activism took an important step forward today, as the Seattle City Council voted 9-0 to approve a bill that terminates a valuable city contract with Wells Fargo. The bank, one of the largest in the United States, has provided more than $450 million in credit to the companies building the pipeline. The move makes Seattle the first city to divest from a financial institution because of its role in the Dakota Access pipeline, a $3.8 billion project that would run from western North Dakota to Illinois, and is fiercely opposed by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Wells Fargo is one of 17 banks directly financing the project.
By Staff for the City Paper. The group marched to the Wells Fargo Bank building downtown where many gathered outside and some entered the bank chanting, "Protect the water, defund the pipeline." Eventually, three affixed a chain of bike locks around their neck and sat down and began reading four demands: "1. We demand that Wells Fargo divest from the Dakota Access Pipeline2. We demand that Wells Fargo divest from predatory development and gentrification.3. We ask the people of Baltimore to divest from Wells Fargo.4. We ask the city of Baltimore to respect Indigenous sovereignty by changing Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples' Day and by removing colonialists statues." Outside, as group held signs that read "No DAPL," "Big Oil Out Of Native Land," and "From Standing Rock To Palestine Ethnic Cleansing Is A Crime," others lead the group in chants, further articulating the point of the protest
By Staff of Unicorn Riot - Bismarck-Mandan, ND – On Thursday morning, a convoy of water protectors drove from the main Oceti Sakowin encampment to hold demonstrations in the nearby Bismarck-Mandan area. The caravan first arrived in Mandan, to demonstrate outside a Wells Fargo bank branch demanding Wells Fargo withdraw its financial support for the Dakota Access Pipeline. Before the water protectors arrived, there were already dozens of law enforcement officers in riot gear guarding the Wells Fargo
By Karen Pierog and Dave McKinney for Reuters - The Chicago City Council on Wednesday approved a one-year suspension for Wells Fargo & Co from city business because of its scandal over phony accounts, joining the states of Illinois and California in punishing the bank. The ban includes bond underwriting, brokerage, trustee and other services the bank has provided to the city. Wells Fargo has earned $19.5 million in fees from Chicago since 2005.
By Sarah Anderson for Inequality - After being raked over the coals for one of the biggest scams in Wall Street history, Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf has agreed to forfeit $41 million in compensation. Astoundingly, this is the first time a Wall Street banker has had to disgorge any of his ill-gotten pay. But don’t get out the Kleenex box quite yet. In the past three years, Stumpf pocketed nearly $200 million in compensation
By David Dayen for The Intercept - LAST WEEK, WELLS FARGO CEO John Stumpf testified before the Senate Banking Committee after the bank paid fines for creating over 2 million fake customer accounts to boost their sales growth statistics. Stumpf, under fire from senators demanding that the bank claw back executive bonuses as punishment for the scandal, insisted that any such decision would be made by a committee of the board of directors that handles compensation issues.