Protest seeks to pressure TD Bank on pipeline investment

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BENNINGTON — About 20 people protested in front of TD Bank on Main Street in Bennington on Wednesday to protest the business's investments in the fossil fuel industry.

The protests were organized locally by Climate Activists of Bennington, a local group affiliated with 350Vt, itself a subsidiary of the international climate advocacy organization 350.org. Rights and Democracy of Bennington County, and Bennington College's Bennington Environmental Action Group also participated.

The protest was part of Divest the Globe, a worldwide series of protests organized by 350.org.

Barbara True-Weber, coordinator for Climate Activists of Bennington, said that protests have been happening all over the state over the last three days, as 91 major banks meet in Sao Paulo Brazil at the Equator Principles Association's annual meeting. Climate activists, including Greenpeace and the Sierra Club, wrote an open letter to the organization earlier this month urging the institutions to make strong commitments to combating climate change.

According to literature being handed out by the protestors, "TD Bank is a huge investor in oil and gas pipelines which destroy nature, contaminate drinking water, and add to climate change. Tell your bankers you do not want your money invested in pipelines. It is time for TD to STOP." It goes on to say that TD Bank loaned $2.5 billion to Dakota Access to build their pipeline, and owns $1.7 billion in stock in TransCanada, the company that is building the Keystone XL Pipeline.

In a statement, TD Bank responded to the protests.

"We at TD welcome diverse perspectives on this important topic and respect the right of people to express their views in peaceful protest. TD is committed to facilitating the transition to a low-carbon economy over the next 30 to 40 years by investing in sustainable businesses and technologies, supporting carbon-neutral operations, and partnering with environmental nonprofits to create green urban spaces across the communities we serve. That said, we recognize that conventional energy remains a vital component of the local economies we serve and is necessary to meet our country's energy demands. As a result, any support of conventional energy projects must meet our stringent environmental and social responsibility standards, while we continue to actively support the low-carbon economy of tomorrow."

According to 350.org, its aim is "a safe climate and a better future — a just, prosperous, and equitable world built with the power of ordinary people."

"350 uses online campaigns, grassroots organizing, and mass public actions to oppose new coal, oil and gas projects, take money out of the companies that are heating up the planet, and build 100 percent clean energy solutions that work for all. 350's network extends to 188 countries," according to the organization's website.

"Banks don't need fossil fuels to make a profit but the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline, or TAP, and other unnecessary gas projects cannot go ahead without funding from banks. Organizing to disrupt these flows of money is therefore one important way for the climate movement to stop new fossil fuel projects projects like TAP from going ahead," said Tim Ratcliffe, senior campaigner at 350.org.

Reach staff writer Derek Carson at 802-447-7567, ext. 122 or @DerekCarsonBB

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