A group of North American women representing the indigenous groups fighting construction of disputed pipeline projects in the US and Canada have been back in Oslo this week. They’re urging Norwegian politicians and financiers to cut all ties to the projects, but Norway’s sovereign wealth fund known as the Oil Fund was non-committal.
Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported there were no promises made after the women met with the ethics council that oversees Oil Fund invesments. They want the fund to sell off its stakes in Energy Transfer Partners, which operates the highly controversial Dakota Access Pipeline that they call “The Black Snake.” Indigenous peoples living in the areas where the pipeline is being built claim it will pollute their drinking water and deface ancient burial grounds.
Michelle Cook, a lawyer specializing in human rights cases, told NRK the group was grateful they had a chance to meet with Members of Parliament, banks and financial institutions about human rights violations connected to the pipelines. Norway’s biggest bank, DNB, endured harsh criticism over its involvement and has already admitted it was wrong to help finance the Dakota Pipeline and sold off its loans to it. DNB also told newspaper Dagsavisen last summer that it is making moves to avoid such mistakes in the future.
Norway’s Oil Fund still has around NOK 11.2 billion invested in the companies that own the project, which was halted by former US President Barack Obama but allowed to resume under new President Donald Trump. The Oil Fund’s ethics council met with the anti-pipeline group this week with what its leader Johan Andresen called “an open mind” and willingness “to hear their viewpoints.” The council, however, has not yet handled the controversy around the pipeline investments.
The group also thanked Norway’s indigenous Sami people for their support over the past year, and for helping them get in touch with Norwegian politicians, financial institutions and various organizations. After a meeting with Members of Parliament earlier this week, new MP Lars Haltbrekken said Norway’s involvement in the pipeline means it “shares guilt in the human rights violations” against groups including the Sioux Nation. The Greens party has also called on Finance Minister Siv Jensen to order the Oil Fund to sell off its stakes.