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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JULY 24, 2002
6:58 PM
CONTACT:  Amazon Watch
Atossa Soltani, Amazon Watch 202 256.9795 or Lucy Braham 310 420.7575 - Jeremy Paster, Greenpeace, 202.549.3212
Environmentalists Call on German Bank to Cancel Loan for Ecuador Oil Pipeline or Withdraw from United Nations Environment Program Finance Initiative
Protest Planned at WestLB’s New York Headquarters
 

NEW YORK - July 24 -

WHAT: Public Demonstration, Street Theatre and Press Conference
WHEN: Tomorrow, THURSDAY, JULY 25TH from 12 to 1 pm
WHERE: 1211 Avenue of the Americas (6th Avenue at 48th Street in Manhattan), at the offices of WestLB

Following on the heels of activist Julia Butterfly Hill’s arrest and deportation last week from Ecuador, US environmental groups are bringing the international campaign against the OCP oil pipeline to the New York offices of WestLB, the German bank that is syndicating $900 million to the pipeline. Members of Greenpeace, Amazon Watch and Wetlands Preserve are staging a press conference and public demonstration on Thursday outside the offices of WestLB, the lead financier for Ecuador’s new heavy crude pipeline. WestLB’s loan to the OCP pipeline violates its own policies.

“There is a growing international campaign against the OCP pipeline. There have been dozens of protests in Germany, Ecuador, and elsewhere around the world and there will be more focused on WestLB, the pipeline’s primary financial backer. We call on WestLB to cancel the OCP loan,” said John Passacantando, Executive Director of Greenpeace USA.

In May 1992, in the run up to the Rio Summit that year, the "UNEP Statement by Banks on the Environment and Sustainable Development" was launched in New York. Since then, private banks including WestLB have joined as signatories agreeing to take an active role as a leader in promoting environmental responsibility in the financial sector.

“WestLB cannot in good faith remain a signatory to UNEP Finance Initiative and continue financing this destructive project which is threatening intact rainforests and endangered species,” said Atossa Soltani, Executive Director of Amazon Watch.

Groups also criticized JP Morgan Chase, the project’s financial advisor, and Citigroup, which has extended a $200 million line of credit to Perez Companc, Argentinean member of the OCP consortium, to enable their participation in this project and their drilling operations in Yasuni National Park.

Environmentalists will present evidence to the press regarding OCP’s failure to meet international standards known as ISO 14000, a legal requirement for the project’s environmental license. Evidence was recently leaked by a former employee of Entrix, the environmental consulting firm for the OCP consortium who was fired shortly after blowing the whistle on the Consortium’s failure to comply with these standards.

Background:
The controversial 300-mile pipeline would transport heavy crude from the country's rainforest region to the Pacific Coast, placing fragile ecosystems – including 11 protected areas - and dozens of communities along the 300-mile route in jeopardy. In order to fill the new pipeline, Ecuador plans to double its current oil production in the Amazon region, setting off an unprecedented boom in the Yasuni national park and other protected and indigenous lands. According to the Ecuadorian government, the majority of Amazon crude shipped via the OCP pipeline is destined for US markets.

West LB is loaning $900 million to the OCP (the consortium of oil companies building the pipeline) in violation of its own lending policies. The loan, which does not meet minimum World Bank environmental guidelines, has sparked public outrage in the German state of North Rhine Westphalia (NWR), which holds a 43 percent stake in WestLB. There have been numerous protests in Germany including some planned this week. Los Angeles-based Occidental Petroleum is a key member of the OCP consortium. The other members of the OCP Consortium include: Alberta Energy (Canada), AGIP (Italy), Repsol-YPF (Spain), Perez Companc (Argentina), and Techint (Argentina).

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