Michigan Episcopal Diocese Calls Crude Oil Pipeline Immoral, and Other Weekend Reading

A large West Michigan diocese is calling on Gov. Rick Snyder to scale back oil transportation through the controversial Enbridge Line 5 pipeline, according to a story posted on mlive.com: Pumping oil through Enbridge’s Line 5 is immoral, diocese says

In a resolution signed Feb. 18, the Episcopal Diocese of Western Michigan implored Snyder to use his executive power to protect the “integrity of creation.”

“We fellow stewards of the gift of creation, strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth,” the resolution, signed by Bishop Whayne M. Hougland Jr., reads. “By sustaining the life of the earth, we work toward justice and peace among all people.”

That’s leadership. Continue for more articles.

Minnesota Governor Says He’d Veto Pipeline Replacement (U.S. News and World Report): We reported earlier that the Minnesota House of Representatives passed an Omnibus Jobs and Energy Bill which fast tracked approval for Enbridge Line 3. The bill approved the expansion and rerouting of a current crude oil pipeline in northern Minnesota without having to get approval from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, the normal process. (See: Gov. Dayton Needs to Veto Deeply Flawed Energy Bill that Fast Tracks Enbridge Line 3).

Well, the bill hasn’t come out of conference committee yet, but Governor Dayton already has registered his opposition. According to the article:

Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton says he would veto a bill allowing a Canadian energy company to bypass Minnesota regulators and build a replacement for an aging pipeline.

Dayton said Friday that Enbridge Energy’s $7.5 billion Line 3 pipeline replacement should be vetted by the Public Utilities Commission before it gets approval to begin construction.

Thank you for your leadership, Governor Dayton!

Continuing with the pipeline theme, read the New York Times piece: The Ramapoughs vs. the World: Will an oil pipeline proposed for tribal lands destroy the Ramapough Lenape Nation along the New Jersey-New York border? Or will it be the catalyst that once again unites the tribe? The Ramapoughs are indigenous people native to the highlands around Mahwah, N.J. who have faced ongoing struggles over rights and resources. According to the article,

The tribe has an embattled history marked by colonial occupation, environmental degradation, discrimination, and clashes with politicians and real estate developers. Over the years, they have been left greatly diminished, a proud tribe working to stave off eradication and invisibility.

But the Ramapoughs have experienced something of an awakening in recent months. After a developer proposed an oil pipeline that would run through their native land — and potentially threaten the region’s water supply — the tribe began a wave of protests that has drawn together its dwindling members.

The last two stories discuss threats to Indian sovereignty, starting with this article from Indian Country Today: Tribal sovereignty facing challenges with cuts to BIA, other resources. It is fairly well known that President Trump has supported two oil pipeline projects opposed by Native communities — the Dakota Access Pipeline and Keystone XL. There are other, less well known threats, too. According to the article:

By executive order, Trump has temporarily stopped hiring in the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The hiring freeze will be lifted only after the Secretary of the Interior and the Office of Management and Budget devise a plan to significantly reduce staff. … The Indian Health service got a reprieve on the temporary hiring freeze because failing to make hires might endanger patients.

Another concerning example is explained in this article from Indian Country Today: A Right-Wing Think Tank Is Trying to Bring Down the Indian Child Welfare Act. Why? Passed in 1978, the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) was an effort to reverse historical efforts to destroy Native American families and culture through assimilation policies. Both boarding school policies and later efforts to adopt Native children into white families created enormous trauma in Native communities and destroyed the ability to pass on culture and traditions from parent to child. ICWA requires extended family and the tribe to get placement priority if a child is removed from a Native home. The Goldwater Institute (which gets money from the Koch Bros. and the DeVos family) is trying to undo that policy, the article said.

Cloaking its efforts in the language of civil rights, Goldwater has launched a coordinated attack against ICWA alongside evangelical and anti-Indian-sovereignty groups, adoption advocates, and conservative organizations like the Cato Institute. Since 2015, Goldwater has litigated four state or federal cases against ICWA, and filed several briefs in support of other cases. Goldwater’s stated goal is to have the U.S. Supreme Court strike down ICWA as unconstitutional. The implications go far beyond child welfare: Many tribal members fear that if Goldwater is successful, it could undermine the legal scaffolding of Native American self-determination.

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