Philly environmental groups picket TD Bank over investment in tar sands pipeline

Protesters with the Philly Water Protectors gathered at 15th and JFK Boulevard outside TD Bank to rally against the Line 3 tar sands pipeline in Minnesota, which is being financed by TD, on July 16, 2021. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Protesters with the Philly Water Protectors gathered at 15th and JFK Boulevard outside TD Bank to rally against the Line 3 tar sands pipeline in Minnesota, which is being financed by TD, on July 16, 2021. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Environmental groups picketed a Center City TD Bank branch Friday for its investments in a controversial pipeline cutting through Minnesota.

Protesters with the Philly Water Protectors blocked the doors of TD Bank at 15th and JFK Boulevard to rally against the Line 3 tar sands pipeline in Minnesota, which is being financed by TD, on July 16, 2021. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Activists accused TD Bank of investing billions in Enbridge, a Canadian-based company behind the construction of the Line 3 tar sands pipeline, a portion of which crosses through a Native American reservation.

The Philadelphia rally was part of a national action, coordinated by Stop the Money Pipeline and the NDN Collective, that is calling on major Wall Street banks to end investment in Enbridge.

Ellen Somekawa, an organizer with the Philly Water Protectors, said the project violates Native American treaty rights, risks environmental contamination, and would bring more carbon emissions.

“[TD’s] support through loans and bond issues and other funding are what makes this pipeline possible,” Somekawa said of the banking giant. “Tar sands are one of the dirtiest forms of fossil fuels, so you think about this thing going through Native lands, including our precious water resources.”

Protesters with the Philly Water Protectors gathered at 15th and JFK Boulevard outside TD Bank to rally against the Line 3 tar sands pipeline in Minnesota, which is being financed by TD, on July 16, 2021. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

TD Bank declined to discuss the project or its investments in Enbridge, but countered that it also invests in green energy and aimed to radically reduce its climate impact –– albeit several decades down the road.

“Under our Climate Action Plan, TD aims to achieve net-zero [greenhouse gas] emissions associated with our operations and financing activities by 2050, aligned with principles of the Paris Agreement,” said Matthew J. Doherty, vice president of corporate communications. “TD recognizes the importance of responsibly developing conventional energy as we support the long-term transition to a low-carbon economy and a sustainable future.”

Ellen Somekawa (left) is an organizer for the Philly Water Protectors. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Protest groups said the rally was timed ahead of the late July expiration of billions in bank loans to Enbridge. The groups also called on President Joe Biden to block the pipeline’s construction and divert more resources toward green energy.

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