About the Campaign
Big banks play a pivotal role in funding climate chaos—and Oily Wells is probably the worst offender, backing many of the most environmentally disastrous fossil-fuel industry projects on the planet. Through a series of public actions, we’ll expose the bank’s dirty-energy secret and demand that it stop enabling Big Oil’s expansion, starting with Enbridge’s Line 3 tar-sands pipeline. What better way for Oily Wells to buff up its tarnished image than to become the nation’s first clean-energy bank?
What’s Our Mission?
We are building a coalition of supporters for a campaign targeting San Francisco-based mega-bank Wells Fargo. We will serve as a resource for information on the bank’s most egregious lending practices (to the fossil-fuel industry and others) and an organizer of community activism aimed at the bank over the long haul. Through a series of nonviolent public actions, we’ll inform its customers, employees and the general public, and we’ll seek a dialogue with its executives to convince them to end fossil-fuel profiteering.
What organizations are involved?
From the beginning, 350 Silicon Valley envisioned the Oily Wells campaign as a coalition effort, arising from our desire to strengthen local climate activism and to reciprocate by joining the related campaigns of our allies. Putting on our ambitious March for Fossil Fuel Freedom would be impossible without many organizations pitching in, and we encourage interested groups to submit our partner intake form so that we can bring you on board to help make it happen. We are delighted to be working alongside the following official partners so far:
Sierra Club Loma Prieta Chapter
Sierra Club SF Bay Chapter
California Interfaith Power & Light
Idle No More SF Bay
Climate Reality Project SF Bay Chapter
Elders Action Network
San Jose Peace & Justice Center
University Lutheran Church
350 Bay Area
Green Party of Santa Clara
Great Old Broads for Wilderness
Transition Palo Alto
First Presbyterian Church of Palo Alto
Peninsula Interfaith Climate Action
San Francisco Mime Troupe
Thrive Street Choir
Why Wells Fargo?
Simply put, if you stop the flow of funds, you stop the flow of oil. Banks are the grease that keeps the climate crisis spinning out of control, and Oily Wells has quietly served as Big Oil’s favorite financier for years. The recent series of highly publicized scandals involving Wells Fargo’s unethical business practices, and their funding of private prisons, have made the bank especially vulnerable. Several major European banks have already stopped lending to dirty energy projects, in support of the Paris Agreement. We want Oily Wells to be the first major US bank to join them, and to invest in renewable energy instead. So c’mon Oily... Be the first to go fossil-free!
What must Oily Wells do?
- Stop financing Enbridge, builder of the proposed Line 3 tar sands pipeline across Minnesota;
- Withdraw funding from all fossil fuel infrastructure, starting with projects related to tar sands oil (one of the most polluting sources of fuel);
- Work with communities and climate advocates to invest in clean energy alternatives and sustainable enterprises.
- Divest from inhumane private prisons and detention centers… because healing our society goes hand in hand with healing our planet.
Why Line 3?
Line 3, one of the most expensive and longest pipelines ever proposed, would bring Canadian tar sands oil to the Great Lakes. It would cut through pristine Minnesota wilderness, tribal lands and productive farms, endangering one-fifth of the world’s freshwater supply. Line 3 would enable tar sands to be shipped anywhere in the world, potentially including California and the large refineries in the Bay Area – increasing toxic air pollution and the risk of hazardous spills. The pipeline, if completed (at a cost of nearly $8 billion), would transport the equivalent of 152,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions every day: the same as driving 9 million cars.
Which Banks Are Better?
There are plenty of alternatives to banking with Oily Wells. Start with your local credit union, which tends to lend locally and doesn’t invest in distant, risky mega-projects. Other banking options include the non-profit Beneficial State Bank; and Bank of the West, the California arm of the French giant BNP Paribas – one of the European banks that have vowed to quit many forms of dirty-energy lending. For more ideas, check out FossilFreeCalifornia’s “Move Your Money” campaign, Indivisible Berkeley’s “Break Up With Your Bank” resource page, and this wonderful article outlining “50 Ways to Leave Your Mega-Bank.”
Even more alternatives are on the way: Activists nationwide are lobbying for formation of locally-owned public banks, that would prioritize community values and needs rather than profits. For general information about the public banking movement, see publicbankinginstitute.org. For California initiatives, see friendsofpublicbankofoakland.org/, sfpublicbank.org, and publicbankla.com/.