DAPL’s Financial Risks Raise Red Flags on Wall Street; Banks Behind DAPL Hire Independent Human Rights Expert

(Credit: Wikimedia)
(Credit: Wikimedia)

We wrote Thursday about how the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is engaged in shareholder advocacy around the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). The ELCA is one of several religious organizations raising moral questions of corporate social responsibility regarding DAPL.

In a new turn of events, Wall Street, too, is raising red flags about DAPL. Financial markets are simply looking at the bottom line, apparently becoming skittish of companies investing in the pipeline because of unidentified financial risks. They are asking tough questions, according to Bloomberg, a business news service.

The following is an excerpt from a Dec. 1 Bloomberg story headlined: Investors Take Stand on Dakota Access Pipeline:

Investors concerned about the Dakota Access Pipeline have started submitting shareholder proposals to the energy companies building the pipeline as well as to the lenders behind it, urging the companies to better disclose the risks to their business from the controversial investment.

The third largest U.S. pension plan, the $178.6 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund, is one of the investors leading the charge.

Click on the link above for the full story. It’s hard to know how optimistic to be about these reports, but we’ll take the good news where we can get it.

Meanwhile, companies providing credit for the pipeline seem concerned about potential risks, too. For more positive news, keep reading. Continue reading

ELCA Brings Shareholder Resolution on DAPL to Enbridge, a Major Pipeline Investor

This is the first in a series of blogs exploring how religious communities who are Standing with Standing Rock are reviewing their investments for ties to the Dakota Access Pipeline. Will their investments change?

ELCAThe Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) has taken a formal position supporting the Standing Rock Nation and its opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). It also is flexing its financial muscle, looking at how its investments are supporting DAPL and asking tough questions of Enbridge, a major DAPL investor.

There is a growing effort to get individuals and institutions to divest from companies tied to DAPL. Divesting is one option outside of the political arena where people can make a difference and vote their values with their money.

The ELCA is a large institutional investor, socking away money for retirement plans for its many employees. It’s the kind of big investor that can influence a corporation. As of the third quarter of 2016, the ELCA had $7.8 billion managed by Portico Benefit Services. (Of that, $6.4 billion was in retirement plans).

The ELCA’s  investments include Enbridge Inc. “whose U.S. vehicle, Enbridge Energy Partners, owns a 27.5% interest in the Dakota Access Pipeline project,” according to Rev. Jeff Thiemann, Portico’s President and CEO. According to a statement Rev. Thiemann made to Healing Minnesota Stories on Dec. 8:

Portico just this week, along with several other investors, submitted a shareholder resolution to Enbridge Inc. [regarding DAPL] … This resolution calls on Enbridge to prepare a report to shareholders detailing the due diligence process used by Enbridge, its affiliates, and subsidiaries to identify and address social and environmental risks, including Indigenous rights risks, when reviewing potential acquisitions.

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ELCA Presiding Bishop Says Church is Called to Support Standing Rock

ELCARev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), today issued a statement urging the denomination’s 9,000+ member congregations to offer prayers and monetary support for the Standing Rock Nation in North Dakota, which is leading efforts to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. Her statement read in part:

Acknowledging the complexity of this issue and the limitations sin places on human decisions, I believe that we are called as a church to support the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe: to stand with the Tribe as they seek justice, to encourage our congregations to pray for them and to offer material support, and to examine the racism inherent in our system that contributes to the current crisis. …

We will lend our presence when invited, our advocacy when requested, the resources of our people when asked, and our prayers, friendship and repentance at all times.

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Religious Leaders are Standing with Standing Rock to Stop the Dakota Access Pipeline

In our blog yesterday, we included a list of the denominations that had issued statements on the Dakota Access Pipeline. Since then, we learned that we missed some. Those taking a position include leaders from: the Episcopal Church; the Mennonite Central Committee (Central States); the United Church of Christ; the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church; the ELCA; the Unitarian Universalists, and the Presbyterian Church USA.

Please let us know if we have missed any statements from religious leaders. We will continue to update the list.

Quick background: The proposed pipeline would pass under the Missouri River, just one mile from the fresh water intake for the Standing Rock Reservation. The Pipeline also would pass through lands sacred to Standing Rock, including burial grounds.

The pipeline’s original route took it within 10 miles of Bismarck, but concern about the potential impact on the Capital City’s drinking water lead to a reroute near the reservation.

Things are currently in limbo. On Sept. 9, a federal judge turned down the Standing Rock Nation’s request to stop pipeline construction, according to MPR. The judge concluded that the Army Corps of Engineers had followed the law in approving the project. That same day, the federal government ordered “work to stop on the segment of the project in question, asking Energy Transfer Partners to ‘voluntarily pause’ action” on the culturally significant areas.

Below, each statement from religious leaders on this issue is powerful on its own. Collectively, their power is magnified and shows that this truly is an issue of conscience. Continue reading for excerpts and links to their full statements. They are listed in chronological order. Continue reading

Update: Dakota Access Pipeline Protest

Here is an update to yesterday’s blog outlining the current protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline at the Standing Rock Reservation.

Today, a federal court in Washington D.C. will hear a suit brought by the Standing Rock Reservation seeking an injunction against the pipeline. There is no guarantee the judge will issue a ruling today, and regardless of the outcome, the losing side most likely will appeal.

Indian Country Today ran an exclusive interview with Standing Rock Sioux Chairman David Archambault II on the suit. He said:

What I think is that all of our Nations have been faced with wrongs—usually projects like this where tribes don’t have the opportunity to have any consultation on something that will affect their homelands. We are never afforded the protection that the companies are afforded when they get their easements. Tribes across this nation are continually paying the costs for the benefits or gains of others. …

This pipeline is making its way through our territory—even though there was an alternative route north of Bismarck, until someone claimed that they are concerned with safe drinking water for that community. They rerouted it north of Standing Rock. We complain too, because we’re concerned for our future generations and their drinking water. They don’t listen.

Pastor Joan Conroy (Oglala Sioux Tribe), President of the American Indian/Alaska Native Lutheran Association, issued the following statement: Continue reading

ELCA Repents for the “Church’s Complicity in the Evils of Colonialism”

We reported last week that the highest legislative body of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) voted overwhelmingly to repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery. We now have the language it passed, as well as comments from Native leaders within the ELCA. Continue reading

ELCA Repudiates the Doctrine of Discovery, Next Up: Mennonite Church USA

In an overwhelming vote, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) has repudiated the Doctrine of Discovery. The measure was approved by delegates attending the ELCA’s Churchwide Assembly in New Orleans this week. The vote Tuesday was 912-28.

The Churchwide Assembly is the ELCA’s highest legislative body and meets only once every three years. The Assembly will continue meeting through Saturday.

The final language approved by the delegates is not yet available on line. We will reprint it when we get a copy. Many ELCA synods, including the Minneapolis and St. Paul synods, approved memorials to repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery and forwarded them to the Churchwide Assembly for consideration. The final language most likely will reflect these earlier drafts. Here is a link to the ELCA Minneapolis Area Synod Memorial, which read in part:

Resolved, that the 2016 Minneapolis Area Synod Assembly explicitly and clearly repudiates the European Christian-derived “doctrine of discovery” and its continuing impact upon tribal governments and individual tribal members to this day, acknowledges the unearned benefits this church has received from the evils of colonialism in the Americas, [and] repents of this church’s complicity in this doctrine …

The ELCA joins a growing list of churches and organizations which have repudiated the Doctrine of Discovery, including the Episcopal Church, the Unitarian Universalist Association, the United Church of Christ, the United Methodist Church, the World Council of Churches, the Community of Christ and the Presbyterian Church USA. (To see their statements, click here.)

Next up appears to be the Mennonite Church USA. It hopes to formally repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery next year, according to Iris de León-Hartshorn, director of transformative peacemaking for the church. “[O]ur hope is to work together to come up with a resolution for the Delegate Assembly at Orlando 2017,” she said in a May 12 Mennonite USA post. “We want the denomination to take a definitive stand against the use of the [Doctrine of Discovery].”

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