Boston, MA (October 2, 2020)—Activists took to the streets today to demand that Liberty Mutual stop insuring and investing in the pipelines that devastate Indigenous rights and the environment. Liberty is backing the expansion of tar sands pipelines across North America, including the controversial Keystone XL and Trans Mountain pipelines. Tar sands are among the most carbon-intensive fossil fuels on earth, driving the climate crisis while poisoning the lands and waters of Indigenous Peoples.
Today, the Indigenous Environmental Network and partners delivered a petition to Liberty Mutual’s Boston headquarters, in solidarity with the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Association (GPTCA). On September 2, the GPTCA, which represents 16 sovereign Tribal nations in the Dakotas and Nebraska, called on Liberty to stop insuring Keystone XL and to meet with Indigenous leaders to discuss Liberty’s relationship with the tar sands industry. Liberty Mutual has so far refused to acknowledge the letter.
“I took this action in solidarity with our native relatives who are fighting KXL. We are giving Liberty Mutual a chance—while it’s not too late to stop this dirty pipeline—to stand with Indigenous communities, Mother Earth, and help protect the future of us all. Or they could keep insuring Genocide, oil, and gas, it’s their choice,” said Eva Blake of the Indigenous Environmental Network.
Protestors built a mock pipeline outside the office, covered in red handprints to represent missing and murdered Indigenous women, an epidemic directly linked to the expansion of fossil fuel extraction on Indigenous lands. Actions also took place in Dallas, TX; San Francisco, CA; Portland, OR; and Bristol, UK. Hundreds joined through an online rally as part of a national day of action on tar sands funders.
Without insurance, fossil fuel projects like pipelines cannot be built or operated. The world’s top scientists have found that building even a single new pipeline or coal mine is incompatible with keeping global warming below catastrophic levels.
As insurers around the world adopt policies against insuring coal and tar sands, Liberty Mutual plays an increasingly key role in providing the insurance fossil fuels need to operate and expand—often in violation of Indigenous rights. Nineteen major insurers have policies ruling out or limiting underwriting for coal, and eight have policies on tar sands. IEN called on Liberty Mutual to follow suit.
“Liberty Mutual is insuring treaty violations and violence in my homelands, it is profiteering off of our lives and land and it needs to stop. Keystone XL continues to threaten violence towards our women, increase crime, and potentially bring this deadly COVID-19 disease to our borders. How dare they insure such evil doings to our tribal nations,” said Joye Braun, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Citizen, frontline organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network.
Liberty is providing a US$15.6 million bond to cover pre-construction of Keystone XL through South Dakota, with a second bond expected for primary construction. Liberty is a long term insurer of the Trans Mountain pipeline, which is also proceeding in the face of powerful, Indigenous-led resistance. Around the world, Liberty insures destructive coal mines, oil rigs, and fracked gas pipelines which violate the rights of Indigenous Peoples and are catapulting us deeper into climate crisis.
Established in 1990, The Indigenous Environmental Network is an international environmental justice nonprofit that works with tribal grassroots organizations to build the capacity of Indigenous communities. IEN’s activities include empowering Indigenous communities and tribal governments to develop mechanisms to protect our sacred sites, land, water, air, natural resources, the health of both our people and all living things, and to build economically sustainable communities.
Learn more here: ienearth.org