A San Francisco tech company has created an open application allowing investors to divest all Dakota Access Pipeline investments from their portfolios.
OpenInvest, a startup tech company founded by Joshua Levin, designed a feature that automatically purges an investor’s portfolio of companies helping to fund the multi-state pipeline. The portfolio is then rebalanced with a different set of investments.
“Assets are one of the most powerful ways you can shape the world,” Levin told reporters Friday. “We wanted to support people’s efforts to fight back.”
Levin said he launched the feature shortly after President Donald Trump issued executive orders approving both the DAPL and the equally contentious Keystone XL. The Army Corps of Engineers, through the Obama administration, initially rejected the Dakota route in December.
Citi Group and TD Bank of Canada, among others, are being urged by environmentalists and members of the Standing Rock Sioux to stop backing Energy Transfer Partners, the company responsible for constructing the DAPL. The tribe believes the project could poison Standing Rock’s water supply ‚Äì it runs underneath Lake Oahe.
Levin believes he’s found a way to make it easier for opponents to force the banks into changing their ways.
“Your money and investments powerfully impact the world. Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and others are counting on you not caring to get away with profiting from the destruction of Native lands,” reads a blog post on the OpenInvest website. “It’s time to take responsibility and start fighting back.”
OpenInvest also allows investors to divest from energy companies altogether.
Analysts and economists who study the nuts and bolts under-girding divestment, on the other hand, suggest it’s simply impossible to have a mass oil purge, especially given the fact that nearly every portion of the economy is either reliant on or operated by fossil fuels.
“Divesting from fossil fuels is an incredibly complicated undertaking,” Todd Kendall, an economist with economic consulting company Compass Lexecon, told a panel in 2016 hosted by the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers.