DAPL Rorschach Test: Pope Appears to Back Standing Rock While Pipeline Exec Sees Terrorists

Pope Francis appeared to back the Standing Rock Nation’s efforts to block the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), “saying indigenous cultures have a right to defend ‘their ancestral relationship to the earth,'” according to a story published Wednesday in Reuters.

While [the Pope] did not name the pipeline, he used strong and clear language applicable to the conflict, saying development had to be reconciled with “the protection of the particular characteristics of indigenous peoples and their territories”.  …

Speaking in Spanish, Francis said the need to protect native territories was “especially clear when planning economic activities which may interfere with indigenous cultures and their ancestral relationship to the earth”.

Some comments on a listserve of Native American scholars and allies took the Pope to task for being a late comer, noting that the United Nations Declaration on the Right of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) passed in 2007. (In fairness to Francis, he did not become Pope until 2013.)

Pope Francis’ statement stands in stark contrast to an oil company executive who is comparing the DAPL protestors to terrorists, according to a Wednesday story in Minnesota Public Radio. Joey Mahmoud, executive vice president of Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, made his comments at a hearing before a U.S. House energy subcommittee, it said. Continue reading

DAPL Economics: Investor Concerns and Market Forces Work Against the Project

Opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is having an impact, even on the mainstream financial sector.

Give Steven Heim and Boston Common Asset Management part of the credit.

Heim is not a name you will recognize, but he is an important behind-the-scenes player. He works for the Boston Common Asset Management, a company committed to the “global commons” and “dedicated to the pursuit of financial return and social change…”

According to Tim Brennan, Treasurer and CFO of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), a community opposed to the pipeline, Heim “has been a leader in getting investors organized around DAPL.”

Here is the background on how Heim and Boston Common have been working to stop DAPL, and other updates from the financial sector. Continue reading

DAPL, Standing Rock are Becoming National Metaphor and Model

p1010103Standing Rock is becoming a national model for opposing oil pipelines. Read a story about a oil pipeline controversy in other parts of the country and it will reference DAPL or Standing Rock.

For example, here is a Jan. 4 story from Folio Weekly, a Florida-based magazine, with the headline: Florida’s Own STANDING ROCK. It concerns the Sabal Trail Transmission, a gas pipeline that crosses Alabama, Georgia and Florida. According to the story:

The $3.2 billion project crosses 13 counties in Florida and more than 700 bodies of water, including the Withlacoochee, Suwannee, and Santa Fe rivers. The EPA approved the project despite its concerns about the pipeline’s path through 177 acres of conservation areas, including the Green Swamp and Rainbow Springs in Florida. …

Similar to Standing Rock, people in Florida worry about the potential leaks and their impact on drinking water. Pipeline opponents have adopted the Standing Rock term “water protectors” and created a Water Is Life Camp near the Santa Fe River.

Wisconsin’s Chippewa Tribe also is fighting a pipeline battle, according to a Jan. 6 MPR story:

The Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa’s tribal council voted Wednesday to refuse to renew several easement rights of way for Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline that expired in 2013….

The Bad River Band’s decision comes amid an ongoing protest over the Dakota Access Pipeline in which the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other tribes have argued the project threatens drinking water and tribal cultural sites.

Click on the story for details.

More updates on DAPL and environmental justice issues follow. Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Free, Prior and Informed Consent: A DAPL Dispute

A great point of contention in the dispute over the Dakota Access Pipeline is whether or not the Standing Rock Nation had the opportunity to be consulted on the pipeline.

The Standing Rock Nation said it did not give its informed consent to the project. The pipeline owners said Standing Rock missed its chance by not engaging in conversation sooner.

However, it appears that Standing Rock did raise objections early in the process, a fact that is only recently coming to light. It undermines the pipeline company’s position.

Let’s try to sort it out.

Continue reading

Sami, Indigenous People of Northern Europe, Played Role in DAPL Divestment

Sápmi is the name of the cultural region traditionally inhabited by the Sami people. (Image: Wikimedia Commons)
Sápmi is the name of the cultural region traditionally inhabited by the Sami people. (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

A second Norwegian bank has pulled its funding from the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), according to a Nov. 25 story in EcoWatch. Odin Fund Management, one of Norway’s leading fund managers, said it sold $23.8 million worth of shares in companies involved with the pipeline.

We blogged earlier that DNB, Norway’s largest bank, had decided to divest its assets from DAPL (though it still has a line of credit to the project).

Why Norway?

Norway is an ocean and a half-continent away from Standing Rock. Is it that Norway is simply a more  socially-minded country? Perhaps. But there also is a fascinating backstory that could be part of the explanation. The Sámi people, indigenous people of northern Europe, seem to have played an important role in pressuring DNB to divest.

It’s a story of cross Atlantic indigenous connections and a bit of serendipity. Continue reading

A Day of Many Messages: DAPL’s Owners Vow to Fight On; Standing Rock Leader Says Time to Break Camp; Signs of Victory, Uncertainty, and Worry Abound

p1010087
Moon rise at Oceti Sakowin earlier this fall.

Native rights and environmental groups are sending out congratulatory emails today on the Dakota Access Pipeline. They are celebrating the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ decision to deny an easement to Energy Transfer Partners to drill the Dakota Access Pipeline under the Missouri River. The Corps said it would explore alternative routes.

The question now is, What’s next?

The companies which own the Dakota Access Pipeline have sent out a blistering media release vowing to push head with the current project.

Standing Rock Tribal Chair Dave Archambault is telling the Water Protectors to break camp and go home for the winter, according to reports. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also set today as the deadline for people at the Oceti Sakowin Camp — which is on federal property — to leave

Yet many people at the camp don’t trust that the project will stop and are going to stay anyway.

Further, key pipeline players will change soon, both the Governor of North Dakota and the president of the United States. That throws everything up in the air.

Continue reading

A Tool Box to Explain the DAPL Conflict to Friends, Family, Leaders; Ultimate Irony: Border Patrol Enlisted Against Standing Rock

sign-2The situation near Standing Rock is getting more and more desperate, with Energy Transfer Partners committed to finish drilling under the Missouri before year’s end, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issuing what amounts to an eviction order for those at the Water Protectors’ main camp.

We need to talk to friends and family, and to our political and religious leaders, to stop the violence, stop the pipeline, and to Stand Up for Standing Rock.

Here are a couple of visuals to help you get some of the main  point across quickly. Continue reading

Vigil for Injured Water Protector; Where to Call; and Critiquing Media Coverage

Vigil outside of HCMC Tuesday night for Sophia Wilansky, a 21-year-old water protector injured by a concussion grenade.

More than 100 people braved a cold evening to hold a vigil Tuesday night for a young water protector who sustained a serious arm injury, the result of ongoing excessive force used against those opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline. Sophia Wilansky, 21 of New York, was carrying water to unarmed people on the front lines when she was struck by a concussion grenade, according to a report in Indian Country Today. She had to be airlifted to Hennepin County Medical Center where she underwent a lengthy operation to save her badly damaged arm.

The Indian Country Today story included a statement by Wilansky’s father:

Both her radial and ulnar artery were completely destroyed. Her radius was shattered and a large piece of it is missing. Her medial nerve is missing a large section as well. All of the muscle and soft tissue between her elbow and wrist were blown away. The police did not do this by accident—it was an intentional act of throwing it directly at her.  …

I died a thousand deaths today and will continue to do so for quite some time. I am left without the right words to describe the anguish of watching her look at her now alien arm and hand.”

Continue reading