Chipman bill would divest Maine from banks funding DAPL
Legislation introduced by Sen. Ben Chipman, D-Portland, to divest Maine from companies funding the Dakota Access Pipeline had a public hearing in the Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee.
The bill — LD 981 “An Act Regarding State Investments and the Dakota Access Pipeline” — would restrict the Treasurer of the State of Maine and the Maine Public Employee Retirement fund from placing state funds into any financial institutions that support the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and from investing in any company that is involved with the construction of DAPL.
The Dakota Access Pipeline is a controversial oil pipeline in the midwestern United States. It was the subject of large protests in 2016 at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation when Americans around the country joined the tribe in protesting the pipeline’s planned path upstream from their reservation.
Despite the protests and the concerns raised by the tribe about the potential effect on its water supply, the Army Corps of Engineers approved the final permit needed for the project to move forward in February.
“The State of Maine shouldn’t be involved in a corporate project that is threatening water rights, especially when the people whose water rights are being threatened were here before the State of Maine even existed,” said Sen. Chipman. “We have a choice in which banks we do business with. We do not need to do business with those involved in financing this pipeline project. We have better options.”
Several cities around the United States have begun the process of divesting from DAPL, including Davis, California, Seattle and San Francisco. The Norwegian fund that manages that country’s government employees’ pension will also be divesting.
“We speak with our money. By having our money in the banks that support this project, we tacitly approve of it,” said Rep. Mike Sylvester, D-Portland, the lead House co-sponsor of LD 981.
Also speaking in favor of the bill were two members of the Penobscot Nation who travelled to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation to join in the protests last year, a Maine teacher who will be a beneficiary of the Maine Public Employees Retirement System, and Julie Eaton, the Chair of the Maine Lobstering Union’s Legislative Committee.
“Lobstering in Maine is a leading economic industry. We understand the need for clean water,” said Eaton. “Missouri is a long way from Maine and they have no ocean. What they do have is American citizens who are depending on the country to ensure that they can have clean drinking water.”
LD 981 faces further action in the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee and votes in the House and the Senate.