The Seattle City Council unanimously voted on Tuesday to end its relationship with Wells Fargo, the city's primary financial services provider, due to the bank being an investor in the company building the Dakota Access Pipeline.
"The example that we have set today can be a beacon of hope to activists all around the country seeking to change the economic calculus of corporations who think that investing in the Dakota Access Pipeline will be good for their bottom line," Councilwoman Kshama Sawant said after the vote. "We're making it bad for their bottom line." Wells Fargo handles about $3 billion a year for Seattle, and this marks the first time a city in the United States has chosen to sever its relationship with a bank in protest of the controversial pipeline. The ordinance states that when Seattle's contract with the bank expires at the end of 2018, it won't be renewed.
Earlier in the day, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers told Congress the final easement for the 1,170-mile pipeline could be issued as early as Wednesday. Members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota have been fighting the pipeline, saying it threatens their water supply and violates sacred sites. Wells Fargo is one of 17 investors in the pipeline, and says it has loaned $120 million of the $2.5 billion Energy Transfer Partners has borrowed to build it — critics say that number is actually much higher, the Los Angeles Times reports. In a statement, Wells Fargo said, "While we are disappointed that the city has decided to end our 18-year relationship, we stand ready to support Seattle with its financial services needs in the future."