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Dakota Access Pipeline

Wells Fargo is one of 17 banks that have made a loan to the developers of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), a project designed to move domestic crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois that has been the focus of intense and nuanced national dispute, with passionate and vocal parties on all sides of the issue.

Frequently asked questions

What is Wells Fargo’s role in the Dakota Access Pipeline?

Wells Fargo, through its Energy Group, has funded $120 million as a participant in a $2.5 billion credit facility to finance a portion of the cost of the Dakota Access Pipeline. We are one of 17 banks with commitments to the $2.5B credit facility. Our loan represents less than five percent of the total financing for the project.

How did Wells Fargo assess the environmental, social and human rights issues associated with this project?

The DAPL project was evaluated by an independent engineer to be compliant with the Equator Principles, a framework adopted by a number of financial institutions, including Wells Fargo, that is designed to determine, assess, and manage social and environmental risks and impacts of projects. This was in addition to our own Environmental and Social Risk Management (ESRM)(PDF) due diligence review. We signed on to the Equator Principles as an added layer of due diligence for projects such as DAPL, and we regularly assess our own ESRM policies to determine if we are adequately managing environmental and social risks in financing.

Wells Fargo recognizes that fossil-based energy and infrastructure projects can be controversial – with support by those who prioritize U.S. energy independence, job creation etc., and opposition by those insisting on a more rapid transition to cleaner energy and seeking to head off any potential environmental damage.  We do our best to take a responsible approach in the financing of any project associated with energy and power generation, and we are committed to continually enhancing our due diligence requirements and processes toward this end.

Is Wells Fargo providing financing to other pipeline projects?

No.  While we do provide lines of credit to a number of energy companies which are used for general purpose funding, Wells Fargo is not involved in project financing any pipeline aside from DAPL.

Would Wells Fargo consider withdrawing from the credit agreement or refraining to lend to the project?

Wells Fargo is legally bound to fulfill its obligations under the credit agreement so long as the customer continues to meet all of its terms and conditions.  However, we have used our position as one of the financing institutions to encourage Energy Transfer Partners to engage constructively with opposing parties toward a more positive outcome.

How is Wells Fargo using its position to work toward a positive outcome?

As we learned about the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their supporters’ opposition to the project, we met with the tribe and other tribal advocacy organizations to learn about their concerns, and we met with Energy Transfer Partners to share the tribe’s concerns and to emphasize the need for appropriate engagement with the tribe.  Since October, 2016, we have continued to have dialogue with parties on both sides of this project to ensure all perspectives are heard and valued.

Was Wells Fargo funding used to finance actions against the water protectors at Standing Rock?

Wells Fargo’s participation relates strictly to the credit facility funding the construction of the pipeline. We were not involved in federal or state law enforcement decisions at the site, and we were troubled by the reports of excessive force being used against protestors. We have met separately with both Energy Transfer Partners and the Standing Rock Sioux to hear their respective points of view, hoping that all parties involved would work toward a mutually acceptable outcome.

What is Wells Fargo’s commitment to Native American governments and communities?

Wells Fargo has been serving Native American governments and communities for more than 50 years, and today we provide capital and financial services to more than 200 tribal entities in 27 states including tribal community development projects. We have dedicated team members focused on serving Native American customers and communities with products, services and financial literacy programs tailored to help individuals and tribal communities succeed financially.

We recognize that native tribal communities are some of the most marginalized in American society, and we acknowledge that Standing Rock Sioux tribe believes it wasn’t consulted properly at the outset. As a result of issues that have arisen in this case, we have enhanced our due diligence in sectors subject to our ESRM policy to include more focused research into whether or not indigenous communities are impacted and/or have been properly consulted. We also developed an Indigenous Peoples Statement in consultation with tribal leaders, indigenous stakeholders and their representatives, that will help guide our decision-making for projects where proceeds of Wells Fargo financing may potentially impact Native American, Native Alaskan or other indigenous communities.

What is Wells Fargo’s commitment to human rights in the context of this dispute?

As specified in our Human Rights Statement, Wells Fargo recognizes that governments have the duty to protect human rights, and our company has a responsibility to respect human rights. We recognize that respecting human rights is a continuing effort, and we must regularly assess our practices and approaches in light of changing global policies and business practices. This effort is made with the understanding that in some circumstances we may go above and beyond what the law and industry standards require. As a result of issues that have arisen in this case, we have enhanced our due diligence in sectors subject to our ESRM policy to include more focused research into whether or not indigenous communities are impacted and/or have been properly consulted.

How does Wells Fargo reconcile its Corporate Social Responsibility goal to accelerate the transition to a lower-carbon economy with its continuing to finance fossil fuel companies and projects?

Wells Fargo is committed to the responsible development of all forms of energy, and while we maintain a large conventional energy portfolio, we are also a leader in the financing of renewable energy and clean technology.  We have invested more than $70 billion in environmentally sustainable businesses since 2012 (more than $17.5 billion in 2016), and in 2015, projects owned in whole or in part by Wells Fargo produced 10 percent of all solar photovoltaic and wind energy generated in the U.S.

Has Wells Fargo changed the way it approaches these kinds of projects based on the DAPL experience?

As a result of issues that have arisen in this case, we have enhanced our due diligence in sectors subject to our ESRM policy to include more focused research into whether or not indigenous communities are impacted and/or have been properly consulted. We also developed an Indigenous Peoples Statement in consultation with tribal leaders, indigenous stakeholders and their representatives, that will help guide our decision-making for projects where proceeds of Wells Fargo financing may potentially impact Native American, Native Alaskan or other indigenous communities.

Please visit Wells Fargo Stories for more detailed information about DAPL, Wells Fargo’s participation and how we are working to address stakeholder concerns.