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.