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Asheville committee considers Wells Fargo divestment because of DAPL

Asheville City Council’s three-member finance committee will hear from city staff Tuesday on a proposal to divest the city’s $150 million budget account from Wells Fargo. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

The Dakota Access Pipeline has the City of Asheville rethinking which bank it uses.

Asheville City Council’s three-member finance committee will hear from city staff at 1: 30 p.m. Tuesday on a proposal to divest the city’s $150 million budget account from Wells Fargo because the bank has played a role in financing the DAPL.

Councilman Cecil Bothwell has taken the lead on the proposal, largely because Wells Faro has been at the center of a national divestment movement that includes the city of Seattle, which has made moves to divest it’s municipal account.

While the Trump administration has approved plans for the project to go forward, Bothwell thinks the city should add it’s name to the list of cities that has discussed pulling accounts to stand in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.

“I think there's reasonable hope that if you take your money out of an institution that it effects their bottom line,” Bothwell said.

“I do think it will make an impact,” said Cathy Holt, who went west to protest the pipeline. Holt and others have written the city asking council to consider such a move.

“I think this is just the classic case of putting your money where your mouth is,” Holt said.

“I don’t know that this will have an effect on the Dakota pipeline,” Asheville Vice Mayor Gwen Wistler said. “I struggle a little bit with just making a stand, especially if it's going to cost the Asheville taxpayers a lot of money.”

It's unclear if the city would incur costs or savings by having banks bid on its business, which is what city staff is expected to discuss with the committee Tuesday.

Rick King has lived in Asheville nearly his entire life. He recently moved a few miles out of town but questioned why council members would focus time and energy on such an initiative.

“As a citizen, I think, when I lived in the city, I want the city to be focusing on sidewalks, streets, police,” said King. “It seems like an odd thing for the city to focus on.”

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