Three people blockade entrance to Citizens Bank headquarters building over pipeline concerns, as grassroots leaders call for divestment

Providence – On Thursday morning three people with The FANG Collective blockaded the main entrance to the Citizens Bank global headquarters building in downtown Providence, RI to protest the Bank’s financing of Sunoco Logistics.

Two people used a series of bike locks to lock their necks to two sets of doors, while another person used their body and several door stoppers to block a revolving door. The action follows the February launch of the “Shame On Citizens” campaign which calls attention to Citizens Bank’s role in a $2.5 billion line of credit to Sunoco Logistics, a pipeline company behind several controversial projects, including the Dakota Access Pipeline. Citizens contributed $72.5 million to this line of credit.

Sunoco Logistics is in the process of fully merging with Energy Transfer Partners. Together the companies are backing several contested projects including the Dakota Access Pipeline, Trans-Pecos Pipeline in Texas,, the Bayou Bridge Pipeline proposed for Louisiana and the Mariner East Pipeline in Pennsylvania. Community organizers resisting these projects issued statements in support of the action at Citizens Bank. 

“We will fight their Bayou Bridge oil pipeline at every level. It’s time for institutions like Citizens Bank to wake up and cut their financing to these dangerous pipeline projects”. Cherri Foytlin, an organizer with Bold Louisiana. (full statements below)

On February 8th 130 people rallied outside of the Citizens Bank headquarters building to protest the Bank’s involvement with the Dakota Access Pipeline. Prior to the rally Citizens Bank denied entry to local organizers and an indigenous activist who hoped to speak to management about the issue. On February 15th a group of community members hand delivered a letter to Citizens Bank executives urging them to cut their ties with Sunoco Logistics. The FANG Collective reports that this letter has gone unanswered.

“We will keep taking action targeting Citizens Bank until they cut ties with Sunoco Logistics. We tried multiple times to directly negotiate with Citizens, only to be ignored. We have no option but to take action.”  – Nick Katkevich of the FANG Collective.

Organizers of the Shame on Citizens Campaign are urging people to commit to close their accounts with Citizens Bank, with several events at local branches being planned for later this month.

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 Statement from Krystal Two Bulls, who is Oglala Lakota and Northern Cheyenne, and has been organizing resistance to the Dakota Access with the Global Solidarity Campaign:

"The camps at Standing Rock have been raided. The longest standing camp, Sacred Stone Camp has been raided. We still stand. We continue to fight. From the start, we have said this fight is larger than Standing Rock. It is about more than this one pipeline. It is about protecting the Water for the future generations of all People. It is about dismantling and taking back power from a system that prioritizes profit over human lives. We must put an end to this. We have to continue to hit these corporations where it hurts, their money!’

Statement from Cherri Foytlin, an indigenous and latinx organizer who has been organizing resistance to the Bayou Bridge Pipeline with Bold Louisiana:

“If Energy Transfer Partners and Sunoco Logistics thought that Standing Rock was something, wait till they come to the Bayou. We will fight their Bayou Bridge oil pipeline at every level. It’s time for institutions like Citizens Bank to wake up and cut their financing to these dangerous pipeline projects”.

Statement from Deirdre Lally, who has been organizing resistance to the Mariner East Pipeline with Juniata Watershed People Before Pipelines:

“In Pennsylvania, Sunoco Logistics is preparing to cut through 17 counties for a natural gas liquids pipeline called the Mariner East 2, set for export overseas.  After strong resistance from residents and environmental groups, Sunoco had to re-apply for their construction permits three times.  Even still, they have mapped less than half of the drinking water supplies they will be building this pipeline through, including private drinking water wells.  The impact on Pennsylvania's wetlands is enormous and will take many generations to recover from.  Any investments in Sunoco is an investment in the sure destruction of safe drinking water and a functional ecosystem in Pennsylvania.”

Letter Delivered to Invenergy Financier Morgan Stanley

In December, FANG along with allies across the continent delivered letters to Morgan Stanley, one of the top financiers of Invenergy's fracked-gas power plant division. Invenergy is the company that has proposed a massive fossil fuel power plant in Burrillville and several other similarly controversial projects in Pennsylvania.

News coverage of the letter delivery in Providence, in RI can be found here. Full text of the letter is below:

The FANG Collective
545 Pawtucket Ave, Unit 113
Pawtucket, RI 02860
contact@FANGtogether.org

Thursday December 15, 2016

Audrey Choi, CEO: Morgan Stanley's Institute for Sustainable Investing
Morgan Stanley
1585 Broadway
New York, NY 10036

Dear Ms. Choi,

The FANG Collective is writing in regards to Morgan Stanley’s investment of over $540 million in Invenergy Thermal Operating LLC. Invenergy plans to construct a new fracked-gas and diesel fuel power plant in Burrillville, Rhode Island. Investment in this project, known as the Clear River Energy Center (CREC), violates Morgan Stanley’s Environmental Policy Statement on multiple fronts, wholly fails to align with the principles set forth by the Institute for Sustainable Investing, and carries significant and growing financial risk.

We ask that Morgan Stanley fully divest from Invenergy’s construction of the Clear River Energy Center, a project that is both unethical and unsustainable; and to withdraw your line of credit for Invenergy’s thermal operations as a whole.

We commend Morgan Stanley’s firm resolution not to support projects that will degrade critical habitats, and we caution that an investment in the CREC breaches this resolution. This power plant will be constructed directly on the border of the George Washington Wildlife Management Area, land protected by the state of Rhode Island. According to the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, the power plant is likely to negatively affect the conditions that maintain this protected area—the impacts of clearing forest patches for development can extend well beyond 300 feet from a clearance’s edge.

In addition to imposing ecologically-harmful “edge effects” onto state-protected land, the large forest clearing required for the CREC will connect with pre-existing forest clearings to its north, east, and west. Thus, Invenergy’s facility promises to severely fragment a tract of forest that has long served as a vital passageway for wildlife, including the state-threatened Black-Throated Blue Warbler. We urge you to uphold the conservation principles defined in Morgan Stanley’s Environmental Policy Statement, and stop condoning the radiative degradation this plant will bring to surrounding critical habitats.

We also urge you to consider the impacts of your investment the rights of indigenous people. While Invenergy has completed archaeological surveys in compliance with federal legislation, the company have not initiated any form of consultation with local tribes regarding the significance of the investigated sites or other sites of relevance. Nor has Invenergy received any form of permission by the tribes to encroach on their traditional territory. This is in direct conflict with Morgan Stanley’s procedure for respecting the rights of indigenous peoples.

Morgan Stanley has gone without violation of this crucial human rights principle for several years. Maintaining this investment, however, makes Morgan Stanley newly complicit in exactly the type of oversight you have strived to condemn.

If such ethical violations aren’t enough, it has recently been made clear that the financial prospects of Invenergy’s thermal projects are unstable. As you know, Moody’s downgraded Invenergy’s credit facilities for their thermal operations in October and revised the outlook to negative, citing the company’s financial underperformance in the past year.

It is no coincidence that Invenergy’s process of obtaining permits to build the CREC has continuously faltered from the very start. Their application and documents have been criticized for consistently lacking crucial information, making it impossible for government agencies and community organizations to compile exhaustive advisory opinions about the project. Currently, Invenergy’s application is officially suspended for exactly this reason. We hope you will investigate further into this issue, as we believe these patterns may demonstrate an alarming disinterest in transparency on Invenergy’s part—or, potentially, a deeper lack of competence.

Burrillville’s resistance to Invenergy’s proposed power plant has held strong for over a year and shows no signs of waning. They have been instrumental in exposing Invenergy’s oversights throughout the permitting process, and, as evidenced by the application’s recent suspension by Rhode Island’s Energy Facility Siting Board, it’s working. The FANG Collective will continue to support them, and will take all nonviolent measures necessary to resist the CREC. If you decide to maintain your investment in this project, we will also work to expose Morgan Stanley’s condonement of Invenergy’s transgressions and the harm they will cause.

In addition to CREC, Invenergy is currently proposing fracked-gas power plant projects in Jessup, PA and in Elizabeth Township, PA. Both projects are facing strong community resistance and fail to meet Morgan Stanley’s principles on ecology and indigenous rights. We urge you to further investigate and take a critical look at these projects as well.

Recently, Morgan Stanley seems to have maintained an attention to sustainability and equity unique among investors. Preserve this reputation, protect your financial stability, and protect the  communities threatened by Invenergy’s fracked-gas projects - divest from and cut your line of credit to Invenergy’s thermal operations now.

With militant love,

The FANG Collective