As the DAPL conflict comes to a bitter end, let it be known that small actions do matter. I wrote Wells Fargo, my current bank and a bank that funded part of the DAPL project, that I would not be getting my next mortgage with them. They replied with the attached letter, which I think illustrates a couple things.
It’s a form letter, obviously, but the fact that they had to create a form letter, and that they got back to me very quickly, shows it’s a big internal issue for them. The city of Seattle disinvested from Wells Fargo because of DAPL. But as the letter shows, and like all things, it’s not a good/bad black-and-white situation. It’s hard to argue that Wells Fargo is a wholly evil institution, and they are taking action.
Quote from my WF letter:
“What we are learning from the dispute...is that despite the due diligence required (by Wells Fargo's commitment to "Equator Principles"), additional research may be needed for future projects to help us fully understand the perspectives of and risks to indigenous communities. As such, we have enhanced our own due diligence...to include more focused research...
Wells Fargo, and presumably some of the 16 other banks involved in funding the project, are taking action because of public backlash, ranging from small letters from homeowners to big cities making a stink. It all matters. And, at least according to this letter, they’re upping the stringency of their social and environmental review processes before they fund projects.
The point is this: if enough people make their outrage known, projects like DAPL will be too much of a risk politically, PR’ly, to even bother with. With enough voices, a society can choose ethics over economics.
Make a pledge to do good!
My pledge: Within the next year, I’m going to be buying a new home, and I’ll be watching Wells closely. If they don’t follow through, I won't be banking with them or getting a mortgage through them.