Wells Fargo (No. 13 on 2019 Top 50 Companies for Diversity) will not “directly finance oil and gas projects in the Arctic region, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR),” according to updated language in its policy on corporate responsibility. (Photo by: Shutterstock/DW labs Incorporated)

Wells Fargo Decides Against Financing Oil, Gas in Wildlife Refuge

Wells Fargo (No. 13 on 2019 Top 50 Companies for Diversity) will not “directly finance oil and gas projects in the Arctic region, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR),” according to updated language in its policy on corporate responsibility.

The 19-million-acre Arctic Refuge is a source of food for indigenous people and is home to a diverse ecosystem of wildlife necessary to support the area, including wolves, polar bears, 200 species of birds and musk oxen.

It is the third major bank to do so after public outcry over the potential destruction of delicate and endangered ecosystems in the region.

According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), Wells Fargo is the largest bank in the state of Alaska, holding $6.1 billion in deposits. That’s more than twice as much as the First National Bank of Alaska.

This move comes after Congress ordered the government to auction off drilling rights to private extraction companies in the ANWR in 2017, though there are no set dates for those lease sales.

Related Article: Wells Fargo Foundation Increased Access to Housing, Jobs, Financial Coaching in 2019

The Sierra Club and other environmental groups, as well as the Gwich’in, indigenous people of the Arctic region, welcomed the decision by Wells Fargo and other banks to not directly be a part of the extractive industries in the fragile Arctic environment.

“For years, we have been speaking out about the need to keep drill rigs out of our sacred lands in the Arctic Refuge, and it’s amazing that a growing number of major banks are listening,” Gwich’in Steering Committee Executive Director Bernadette Demientieff told Common Dreams. “The Arctic Refuge is critical to our people’s food security and way of life. Our human rights will not be dismissed … The fight to protect this place is far from over and we will continue to hold accountable any bank, oil company, or politician that seeks to benefit from its destruction.”

Wells Fargo has a long history in sustainability efforts. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has named Wells Fargo to its Green Power Partnership National Top 100 for using nearly 2 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of renewable energy annually, representing 100 percent of the company’s global electricity requirements. Wells Fargo ranked No. 4 on the list, DiversityInc previously reported.

The bank can still be indirectly tied to oil and gas companies in the region.

“Our policy applies only to project finance in the region,” the San Francisco-based bank said in a statement to the New York Post. “We have ongoing business relationships with numerous companies involved in the oil and gas industry in the Alaska Arctic region and expect to continue those relationships long into the future.

Latest News

Hershey Employees and Retirees in the US and Canada Pledged More Than $900,000 in 2021 To Support Nonprofit Organizations

Originally published on LinkedIn. The Hershey Company ranked No. 10 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.    Each year, our Season of Giving campaign encourages Hershey employees to make a difference by supporting nonprofit organizations which they find to be meaningful. Employees and retirees in…

Creating Windows and Mirrors: Hershey’s Amber Murayi on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the ‘World’s Top Female-Friendly Company’

Amber Murayi is the Hershey Company’s Senior Director of Enterprise Strategy & Business Model Innovation & Co-lead of the Women’s Business Resource Group. The Hershey Company ranked No. 10 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.    My position affords me a unique view of DEI…

Author Alice Sebold

Author Alice Sebold Apologizes for Her Role in the Wrongful Conviction of the Black Man Charged With Raping Her

In her acclaimed 1999 memoir Lucky, author Alice Sebold told the story of being raped in 1981 when she was a student at Syracuse University. The case resulted in a Black man named Anthony Broadwater being convicted and sent to prison. Sadly, Broadwater was innocent and wrongfully convicted — and…

Black renters

New Study Reveals Landlords Consistently Discriminate Against Potential Renters With Black or Hispanic ‘Sounding’ Names

In the largest study of its kind ever conducted, researchers with the National Bureau of Economic Research have uncovered what many people of color already know when hunting for an apartment or home: most landlords consistently discriminate or harbor bias against non-white individuals looking to rent their property.  Bloomberg’s Kelsey…

book banning

American Library Association Documents 155 Attempts at Banning Books About POC or LGBTQ Issues in the Last 6 Months

In a depressing turn for anyone who thought society may have outgrown book burning or censorship of books over the last 100 years, it appears the hate-filled phenomenon is back on the rise, increasing with alarming frequency across the country. CNN’s Nicole Chavez has reported the American Library Association “has…