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.

Continue reading

Pressure Coming on Banks Backing Dakota Access Pipeline; This Day in History: The Fraudulent Treaty of Old Crossings

The camp is filled with signs and flags, large and small
A flag flying at the Protectors Camp.

Those opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline are opening a new front in efforts to stop the project: They are following the money.

Pipeline opponents are putting the public spotlight on the many financial institutions funding the pipeline. A recent article in Yes! Magazine headlined: “A Strategy to Stop the Funding Behind the Dakota Access Pipeline” suggests nonviolent civil disobedience to highlight the disconnect between banks public stance on green energy and their financial backing of the pipeline.

An analysis by Food & Water Watch shows a combined 38 financial institutions have provided a $10-billion-plus credit line to companies working on the Dakota Access Pipeline, the article says. The financial institutions include Wells Fargo, US Bank, Citibank, Bank of America, UBS, and Morgan Stanley. According to the article:

Many of these banks may be vulnerable to pressure. For one thing, they’re eager to appear green: Bank of America, for instance, recently announced plans to make all its bank branches “carbon-neutral” by 2020. Which is nice — solar panels on the roof of the drive-thru tellers are better than no solar panels. But as [Rainforest Action Network’s Amanda] Starbuck said, it’s basically meaningless stacked up against Bank of America’s lending portfolio, chock full of loans to develop “extreme fossil fuels, which are simply incompatible with a climate-stable world.”

One major loan for the Dakota Access Pipeline hinges on the project getting key government permits, a point of vulnerability given the federal government’s recent action which increased environmental reviews.

Yes! Magazine provided contact names for leaders of 17 of the banks so people can write letters. Also, protests at banks have sprung up across the country from Long Beach to the Bronx, the article says.

For more pipeline updates and a summary of the Treaty of Old Crossings, signed on this day in 1863, read on.

Continue reading

Pipeline Updates: Native Youth Post Beautiful Video Opposing Dakota Access Pipeline; Sandpiper Pipeline Officially Scratched

A couple of quick updates on the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Sandpiper pipeline projects.

We have written several blogs on the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline that would cross under the Missouri River one mile from the fresh water intake for the Standing Rock Sioux Nation Reservation. (See here and here.) Standing Rock youth had the chance to meet President Obama in 2014, and they just posted a beautiful video asking him for help in stopping the project.

Here is the video link. (It only runs 90 seconds.)

Here is the post that went with their video:

In 2014, President Obama visited the Standing Rock Sioux Nation as an official visit to “Indian Country”, stopping at the small community of Cannon Ball, ND. While there he visited with Native youth and promised to help them in their time of need.

2 years later, this same community finds itself in the middle of a battle against the multi-billion dollar project called the Dakota Access pipeline.

Some of the Native youth who got to meet the President, and their friends, are now asking for him to keep his promise. Please support the campaign against #DakotaAccess pipeline! Please support #NativeYouth!

To any Native Youth, take a photo of yourself holding up a sign that says: #CanYouHearUs?#NoDAPL #KeepFossilFuelsInTheGround and send it to President Obama and his wife Michelle! Tweet – IG – FB! Let’s make sure they hear us!

#NoDAPL #KeepItInTheGround #GenI#IndigenousRising #WaterIsLife

Also, the Star Tribune just reported that Enbridge Energy is pulling the plug on the proposed Sandpiper Pipeline, which would have run from the Bakken fracking fields in North Dakota to Superior Wisconsin, via Northern Minnesota. This move does not come as a surprise, as Enbridge recently announced it had invested in a different pipeline project that does not cross Minnesota. According to the article:

Calgary-based Enbridge is withdrawing its application for the $2.6 billion Sandpiper pipeline and asking for the cessation of regulatory proceedings and an environmental impact statement, according to documents filed Thursday with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.

For more details, read the full Star Tribune story, and see our Aug. 12 blog: Native and Environmental Activists Scuttle One Oil Pipeline Project through Northern Minnesota, Another Proposal Remains

Native and Environmental Activists Scuttle One Oil Pipeline Project through Northern Minnesota, Another Proposal Remains

Native American and environmental activists appear to have scored a major victory in blocking Enbridge’s proposed Sandpiper pipeline that would have carried crude oil from the North Dakota fracking fields to Duluth/Superior.

Activists succeeded in raising concerns and delaying the project. The project’s financial backers now are seeking a different route. Enbridge Inc. and Marathon Petroleum are now investing in the Bakken Pipeline System that will route oil through North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa to get to Illinois.

Honor the Earth, a Native-led group started by Winona LaDuke, played a key role in stopping the Sandpiper project. LaDuke issued a statement on the group’s website about the latest news.

As the people who would be most impacted by these projects, we are of course very happy to hear this news. For four years our community has said Gaawiin, NO – from the wild rice harvesters to the tribal governments. For four years we have had ceremonies to stop this pipeline. We’ve also fought in the courts, in regulatory hearings, in the media, in the streets, and on the land. It is important to acknowledge and celebrate this victory. When we stand up we are so powerful. But it is a bittersweet victory, for while we have won the battle, the war remains. The black snake is a hydra – cut off one head and 2 more will emerge.

That said, this is a complicated project, and environmental battles are not over.

Continue reading

Caucus Resolution; Indigenous Food Share; Honor The Earth’s Enbridge Recap; Treaty Rights Dispute

Caucus Resolution: American Indian Nations Should Have Access to Outdoor Heritage Fund

With Minnesota’s political caucuses coming up March 1, consider proposing this resolution:

Resolved: the Minnesota Legislature shall ensure that American Indian nations in Minnesota have equal access to the Outdoor Heritage Fund without diminishing their treaty rights.

Here is the background, provided by a recent Star Tribune editorial: The Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council has voted twice to approve $2.2 million to buy about 2,000 acres from Potlach for preservation. White Earth would buy the land and transfer it to a federal trust. The project was included in a 2015 omnibus bill, but funding got stripped out at the end of the session for dubious reasons, raising “regrettable questions about bias toward American Indian communities.”

Continue reading

New Student Capitol Art Project; Red Lake, Enbridge Settle Dispute; This Day in History: Landmark Policy Shift Towards Indian Self Determination

Congratulations to Anderson School art teacher Heather Alfred who just received funding from Minneapolis Public Schools to replicate Healing Minnesota Stories (HMS) student art project. The project’s goal is to teach students about the subtle and not-so-subtle cultural and historical messages in public art, particularly art in the Minnesota State Capitol. Students then are challenged to create their own Capitol art, and create artist statements about what the art means to them.

The grant will allow the school to buy good art and framing supplies and hold a public art exhibit at the end of the project. The funding also will support guest speakers. The money comes from the district’s “Achievement and Integration Award,” which aims to close the achievement gap, enhance the educational experience for students at racially identifiable schools; and create opportunities for increased interracial interaction.

Anderson will be the fourth school to participate. The other three schools — North View Junior High (Brooklyn Park), Northwoods Community School (Cook) and Oshki Ogimaag (Grand Portage) — have all also participated in HMS’s traveling art exhibit. We hope to add new art from Anderson soon.

Way to go, Heather!

Red Lake, Enbridge Settle Long-Standing Land Dispute

From the “Better Late Than Never” Department, MPR reported last week that Enbridge will pay Red Lake for 65 years of unauthorized use of tribal land.

After a nearly decade-long dispute, Enbridge will pay Red Lake Nation $18.5 million for less than half an acre of land.

Starting in 1950, Lakehead Pipeline, which is now owned by Enbridge, laid four oil pipelines through a small isolated section of Red Lake land. The tribe never gave the company permission, and was never paid for their use of the land.

Click on the link above for the full story.

This Day in History: Turning the Tide on Tribal Termination

Forty years ago, January 4, 1975, the Indian Self Determination and Education Act of 1975 was signed into law. This represented a major shift in federal policy, according to Wikipedia. It put a priority on Indian self determination and ended decades-long federal efforts to terminate tribes and erase treaty relationships and obligations.