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Dakota Access Pipeline Protesters Target San Francisco Bank

A dozen opponents of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access oil pipeline under construction in four Upper Midwest states on Monday targeted the San Francisco headquarters of Citibank, one of the largest funders of the project, in another expansion of the national protest over an energy infrastructure project that has been fully permitted by regulators and vetted by the federal courts.

Protesters in the Citigroup Center in San Francisco's financial district vowed to be arrested as an act of civil disobedience in the name of preventing "the pursuit of extreme energy from destroying communities, natural systems and climate." They said confrontational protests like theirs and the encampments of protesters in North Dakota are "necessary actions for change."

In North Dakota, the Standing Rock Sioux Native American tribe that began legal challenges and protests against the nearly 1,200-mile pipeline project late last summer staged another media-attracting event Saturday, alleging overreaction and abuse by state and local law enforcement near the tribe's reservation and a proposed pipeline crossing under a dam-created lake in the Missouri River.

Backers of the pipeline have maintained that all current federal requirements necessary to move forward with the final easement for going under the water have been satisfied, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has already spent more than a year reviewing the project (see Shale Daily, Oct. 28).

Opponents allege that the oil pipeline was rerouted toward the Sioux and away from the population center around Bismarck, ND, because citizens there rejected the line, and "state and federal officials advanced their corporate, pro-Big Oil energy platform," a spokesperson for the Sioux tribe said.

The Sioux further allege that the federal government and the agents of pipeline backers Energy Transfer Partners have "enlisted and sanctioned dangerous and dehumanizing tactics through a taxpayer-funded, militarized law enforcement with documented human rights abuses."

Major lenders for the pipeline project are Citigroup Global Markets Inc., The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd., Mizuho Bank, Ltd. and TD Securities (USA) LLC, with Citigroup as the lead arranger. Opponents contend there is a link between San Francisco banks and the nearly completed project, which they say threatens the Sioux reservation's water supplies.

"Oil companies and banks like Citigroup do not care about clean water and clean air [in] impacted communities," said Christy Tennery-Spalding of the opposition group Diablo Rising Tide.

While the Sioux are attempting to block the project's water crossing and in the process shut down the entire project, oil and gas pipeline water crossings generally are so numerous that there is no central source of national statistics for them, according to the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA).  "I don't think anybody has taken the time to do a scholastic examination of the subject," said INGAA's Terry Boss, senior vice president for pipeline safety.

The Dakota Access project parallels an existing, 30-year-old Northern Borders natural gas transmission pipeline right-of-way that goes under Lake Oahe.

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