A group of people went to Wells Fargo bank on Elden Street in Herndon on Saturday with no intention of withdrawing money.
Instead, they held up signs and yelled chants, calling out the bank for its support of the Keystone XL Pipeline.
The climate justice group 350 Fairfax protested July 8, which pipeline opposition group Protect & Divest had designated as an International Protect and Divest Day of Action. The day’s protests were meant to sway banks, such as Wells Fargo, from funding the Keystone XL Pipeline and other environmentally unfriendly projects such as Virginia’s Atlantic Coast pipeline.
The 1,179-mile Keystone XL Pipeline, when completed, will run from Alberta to Nebraska and will transport up to 830,000 barrels of oil per day. There is an existing pipeline in the region, but Keystone XL will deliver the oil in a more direct route.
It has caused controversy as some people see the pipeline as beneficial because it will create many construction jobs and bolster the nation’s economy. Additionally, if the pipeline is not built, the fear is other companies will transport the same oil but in riskier ways, such as via rail service. However, groups like 350 Fairfax fear for the environmental impact the pipeline’s construction may have.
“[350 Fairfax] handed out flyers to bank customers and passing pedestrians to explain why the Keystone XL pipeline is a disaster for the climate, dangerous for water and soil quality along its proposed route, and is unfair to indigenous peoples whose sacred land would be disrupted,” 350 Fairfax wrote in a press release.
On Facebook after the rally, 350 Fairfax said that pipeline projects can also greatly spur climate change by increasing greenhouse gases emissions.
“The project stands to endanger precious ecosystems, vital aquifers, and Indigenous and sacred lands. It would also exacerbate climate change at a time when a just transition off fossil fuels is critical for the health and well-being of life on Earth,” 350 Fairfax wrote.
The group’s hope is to stop further construction of the pipeline by encouraging its funders to re-evaluate the damage their invested money will be doing to the environment. 350 Fairfax noted that Saturday’s protest was just one of many the group plans to organize.
“We must demand that all investors, including Wells Fargo, #divest from these dangerous and unnecessary projects,” the group said.
Photos courtesy 350 Fairfax