By July 10, 2017 Read More →

Desjardins suspends financing for Canadian pipelines under pressure from Greenpeace, indigenous activists

Trans Mountain ExpansionGreenpeace promises Standing Rock-style opposition if Kinder Morgan begins Trans Mountain Expansion construction in Sept.

The largest network of credit unions in North America, Quebec-based Desjardins Group, is temporarily suspending lending for pipelines and will decide in Sept. if the decision is permanent. Desjardins is a lender to Kinder Morgan’s controversial Trans Mountain Expansion pipeline from Alberta to the West Coast. Desjardins joins Dutch lender ING Groep NV, which made a similar decision two weeks ago.

Trans Mountain Expansion

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Desjardin contributed $145 millionCDN to the controversial Trans Mountain Expansion’s $5.5 billion credit facility.

On May 30. Kinder Morgan Canada Limited and Kinder Morgan, Inc. announced completion of the IPO of 102,942,000 restricted voting shares of the company at a price to the public of $17/share for total gross proceeds of approximately $1.75 billion, according to a press release.

Greenpeace Canada says it has met with Desjardins and pressed the company to not finance Alberta oil sands pipeline projects.

“This decision shows that astute financial institutions are becoming increasingly wary of financing fossil fuel projects. Tar sands pipelines pose major risks, whether you are concerned about profits, human rights, the environment, or all three,” Greenpeace Canada Climate and Energy Campaigner Patrick Bonin said in a press release.

“Desjardins has made the right decision by announcing a moratorium on investments in and financing of oil pipelines, and we look forward to it becoming permanent.”

The Canadian Energy Pipeline Association (CEPA) says it is disappointed in Desjardins’ decision to review its policy to invest in pipeline projects.

“Transmission pipelines are proven to be the safest way to transport large quantities of liquids and natural gas over long distances to end-users. For over a decade, CEPA members have delivered natural gas and liquid petroleum products with a 99.999 per cent safety record,” CEO Chris Bloomer said in a statement.

Bloomer added that pipelines are critical to the Canadian economy and to the future energy mix, domestically and around the globe.

“Our nation’s energy resources will remain core to Canada’s and the world’s energy needs for the foreseeable future and will enable the transition to a diversified energy portfolio,” he said.

“Working together respectively and constructively is in the interest of all Canadians.”

Greenpeace was part of a coalition of more than 20 indigenous and environmental groups in June that called on 28 major banks to pull funding for Trans Mountain Expansion because of the risk of pipeline spills and “their potential contribution to climate change,” according to Reuters.

Greenpeace says it hopes Desjardins will withdraw the Kinder Morgan financing and make the newly announced moratorium permanent.

trans mountain expansion

Dakota Access protestors. Photo: Standing Rock Sioux Nation.

The global environmental organization noted that banks around the world “came under pressure to cease funding pipelines from the Indigenous-led resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock” and similar opposition is expected if Kinder Morgan begins construction of Trans Mountain Expansion in Sept. as the company has announced.

Over 5,000 activists and Native Americans gathered in a 5,000 strong “protest village” on the Standing Rock reserve near Cannonball, Dakota last fall to demonstrate against the Dakota Access Pipeline. The project was suspended by the Army Corps of Engineers under President Barack Obama, but was allowed to proceed by incoming President Donald Trump earlier this year.

British Columbia First Nations were allied with the Standing Rock Sioux, which pledged to assist Canadian opponents to Trans Mountain Expansion.

One of the tactics employed by the Dakota Access protesters was pressuring international banks that have signed on to the Equator Principles, “a framework for global financial institutions to assess social and environmental risk on their investments and lending clients.”

“Processing oil sands is known to be energy intensive, producing significant greenhouse gas emissions,” the ING Groep NV said in a statement on its website.

“This is in addition to potential social impacts, such as on the local native tribes historically using the land.”

Dr. Praveen Kumar, executive director of the Gutierrez Energy Management Institute in Houston, Texas, says that the application of the principles is open to interpretation.

“The interpretation is obviously quite subjective, but definitely the principle is there that loans can be re-sanctioned until the syndicate partners, the financial institutions, certify that the project does not violate the Equator Principles about environmental and social risk,” he said in an interview.

trans mountain expansion

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