DAPL Updates: Senators Press Corps of Engineers for Answers, Divestment Push Tops $5 Billion

Top democratic U.S. Senate leaders are pushing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for detailed information on the steps it took to approve the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), what plans it has to provide clean drinking water in case of a pipeline rupture, and what steps it took to honor the treaty and trust obligations the government has to the Standing Rock Nation.

Thanks to the Lakota People’s Law Project for posting this information.

Senators Tom Carper (D., Delaware), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works, and Maria Cantwell (D., Washington), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources, have sent an oversight letter to the Army Corps of Engineers demanding documentation about its rushed DAPL approval, including all communications and contact with the Trump transition team and administration.

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Native Women Speak Up for Immigrants; ND Oil Production Down, So Why DAPL? and Native Nations Rise March on DC

News summary:

  • The group Indigenous Women Rise is making a strong statement in support of immigrants that the Trump administration is trying to keep out.
  • Once economically booming, the state of North Dakota is facing large revenue drops because of declining oil and agriculture revenue. It begs the question: If oil production is down, why build the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL)?
  • Today is the Native Nations Rise March in Washington D.C. What you can do.
  • U.N. Official: Trump administration retreating on Indian Rights

Keep reading for the details on these stories. Continue reading

DAPL Update: News on Ongoing Divestment and Minnesota’s Native-Owned Bank

A collection of major pension funds, a labor union, and many religious organizations are putting financial pressure on banks supporting  the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). They are asking the banks  to address or support the Standing Rock Nation’s request to reroute the pipeline. They have some financial muscle, collectively holding $653 billion in investments.

In other news,

  • Norway’s largest private investor just pulled its investments out of all companies involved with DAPL.
  • This month in history, the largest inland oil pipeline spill happened in Minnesota, near Grand Rapids.
  • And did you know that there are 18 banks owned by Native American people in this country? One of those banks is in Hinkley.

Keep reading.

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Army Corps Abruptly Ends DAPL Environmental Review; More Pressure Brought Against Pipeline’s Financial Backers

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has prematurely scuttled the environmental review of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), a move both expected and discouraging. Meanwhile, the Sierra Club and thousands of Japanese protestors have joined the push to divest from the banks backing the pipeline, the Standing Rock Nation is struggling from declining casino revenues, and the FBI investigates DAPL protestors as potential terrorists.

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DAPL Updates: Seattle Cuts Ties With Wells Fargo Over Pipeline; ND Legislature Eyes Tougher Penalties for Protestors

Repercussions for both supporters and opponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) are piling up.

The City of Seattle is pulling its business from Wells Fargo, some $3 billion in accounts, due to both the bank’s support for DAPL and its bogus account scandal, news reports say. Meanwhile, the state of North Dakota is considering bills to toughen punishments for the kinds of protests taking place against DAPL, a legislative trend that is sweeping the country.

One bill in the North Dakota legislative hopper would remove liability for drivers who run over protesters standing in a roadway, as long as it is “unintentional.”

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Unitarians Join Shareholder Action Against DAPL Investor, Big Questions Looming

This is the third in a series of blogs exploring how religious communities are reviewing their investments for ties to the Dakota Access Pipeline. Part I reviewed ELCA investment policies. Part II reviewed the Presbyterian Church’s investment policies. Today, we look at the Unitarian Universalist Association.

The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) is one of several religious communities asking tough questions and putting pressure on companies involved with the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).

The pressure comes in the form of shareholder actions. Religious communities tend to have large investments, both endowments and retirement funds, and hold stocks in a variety of companies. In the UUA’s case, it has an endowment of $170 million and a retirement plan with about $300 million. Its investments include Marathon Petroleum, a company which has contracted to use the pipeline. (Marathon also has a pending purchase offer to become a minority owner of the pipeline, according to an Inside Climate News Fact Sheet.)

The UUA has joined in a shareholder action to press Marathon for more information on the pipeline. This is not divestment, but it is needed pressure; it is a possible step toward divestment if investors find the answers unsatisfactory.

The issue is coming to a head. Under the Obama administration, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had denied the project a needed easement under the Missouri River; it was going to require more environment study. The Trump administration has given indications that it will proceed with DAPL (as well as restart discussions about the Keystone XL pipeline. See yesterday’s blog.)

A green light on the project will raise the stakes for those organizations that have pledged to support Standing Rock Nation and its opposition to DAPL — particularly those organizations with money invested in companies supporting the pipeline.

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MPR Misses the Boat on DAPL Divestment Story

Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) ran a piece today headlined: Protest appeared to misstate U.S. Bank’s role in Dakota Access pipeline.

At best, the story makes a technical point. At worst, the headline casts DAPL opponents in an unfair light, claiming they are “misstating” the facts — that is, misrepresenting them or even lying. The story certainly misses the larger political picture. Continue reading