Regarding “New Haven divests funds from Wells Fargo — but slowly”

Thanks to the News for covering this important story. We’d like to add a couple of things. We know that Dakota Access Pipeline construction is finished, but we also know that Wells Fargo continues to fund other community- and climate-destroying pipelines. Despite what the Wells Fargo spokesman said, Wells Fargo is involved in funding the Bayou Bridge pipeline. From the follow-the-money folks at LittleSis, according to Energy Transfer Partners’ annual report:

“On December 1, 2017 the Partnership entered into a five-year, $4.0 billion unsecured revolving credit facility, which matures December 1, 2022 (the “ETP Five-Year Facility”) and a $1.0 billion 364-day revolving credit facility that matures on November 30, 2018 (the “ETP 364-Day Facility”) (collectively, the “ETP Credit Facilities”). The ETP Five-Year Facility contains an accordion feature, under which the total aggregate commitments may be increased up to $6.0 billion under certain conditions. Energy Transfer Partners uses the Energy Transfer Partners Credit Facilities to provide temporary financing for its growth projects, as well as for general partnership purposes.”

“Bayou Bridge is one of ETP’s ‘growth projects’ as can be seen on slide 7 of this Energy Transfer Partners presentation to investors at a Citibank conference,” says Rob Galbraith, a researcher at LittleSis.

And funding fossil fuel projects isn’t the only problem with Wells Fargo. The very reason the city must move its money is another mark against it, as it has been found by federal regulators to discriminate against African-American and Latino mortgage holders. (Even though Wells Fargo denied this, it paid the hefty fine that resulted.)

A third problem is that the bank treats its own customers like a private piggy bank, creating 3.4 million fake accounts that generated charges that led to some customers having their credit downgraded; then, a year later forcing hundreds of thousands of customers to buy unneeded auto insurance that created  credit problems for some and led to repossession of their cars. Who would want their money in this bank?

We appreciate all the points Controller Daryl Jones made regarding the difficulties of transitioning to another bank, but New Haven Stands with Standing Rock will not be satisfied until the city moves its money to a local bank that is not investing in the same kinds of projects as Wells Fargo. Moving our taxpayer dollars to banks such as Chase, Bank of America or TD Bank would not be a victory for this campaign.

​Finally, while one could interpret the city’s actions so far to mean ​ “New Haven divests funds from Wells Fargo” as the headline states,  it’s somewhat misleading because, as the article itself states, the city has yet to move the vast bulk of its funds (in the three operating accounts). It would be more accurate to say “New Haven will divest.”

Melinda Tuhus And Geremy Schulick