The following letter to Citibank was written by musician and filmmaker Collin Ruffino, in the hopes that it might be useful for others as a template. For anyone contacting Citibank, the sender can simply add the number of years they’ve been a customer at the top and their name at the bottom, and the letter could be easily adapted for another bank. (Contact information for major DAPL funders can be found here).
Dear Michael Corbat,
I recently became aware that Citibank has provided a significant portion of the financing to Energy Transfer Partners for the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. I am writing to urge you to divest from this destructive and unethical project and to cease the financing of all other current and future projects that do not respect Native sovereignty or that require the continued extraction and burning of fossil fuels. I have been a Citibank customer for X years and will be closing my accounts with your bank and urging others to do so until there is positive action on the part of Citigroup.
As I’m sure you are aware, the pipeline crosses ancestral homelands of the Dakota Sioux—land guaranteed them in the 1851 and ’68 treaties made with the U.S. government. The fact that these treaties have been trodden upon by that same government does not justify the further theft and destruction of that land. It is far past time to end the long history of disregard for the rights of America’s first inhabitants.
In resisting the construction of the pipeline, the Dakota Sioux and their many Native and non-Native allies have courageously highlighted authorities’ criminal lack of foresight or concern for the pipeline’s environmental impact and called much-needed attention to the very real threat it poses to the drinking water of millions and for our shared climate. The violent response by local authorities and private security firms acting on behalf of Energy Transfer Partners, and by extension Citigroup, has been horrifying to behold.
Further, an immediate, global shift away from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy is needed if we are to avoid the worst impacts of runaway climate disruption. Any new financial support for fossil fuel projects represents a massive risk to our land and water resources, the health of vulnerable people living close to these industries, and the future of life on this planet.
These loans also represent a major economic gamble. Most of the world’s nations have committed to making every effort to keep human-caused global warming well below 2˚C. If that target is to be met, the vast majority of the world’s fossil fuel reserves are effectively unburnable and the money invested in them wasted. A 2015 study by Citigroup’s very own Citi Global Perspective & Solutions concluded that taking action to cut carbon pollution and slow climate change would result in a positive return on investment.
We need to see leadership on the many issues that we face as a result of the continuation and expansion of the fossil fuel industry. I am asking you to demonstrate that leadership by publicly ruling out loans to new oil, coal and gas mining, transport and export projects in the United States and beyond, instead focusing your energy investments only on renewables and energy efficiency.
I urge you to do the economic and morally right thing: stop investing in fossil fuel projects, respect Native sovereignty and immediately pull out of the Dakota Access Pipeline project.
Top photograph by Ethan Buckner.