Mercy Rejects Decision to Proceed with Pipeline Construction Near Tribal Lands
February 08, 2017
The Sisters of Mercy strongly reject the Army Corp of Engineers’ decision to immediately issue an easement allowing the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross under the Missouri River in the Dakotas near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation and through its treaty lands.
Over the past few months Mercy advocates have been joining with the tribe’s efforts to protect their water, land and sacred sites from the threats posed by the pipeline. Mercy Investment Services has been engaging companies in both the financial and energy sectors on community and environmental impacts of the pipeline, and has been collaborating with the Standing Rock Sioux tribal leadership on the most appropriate ways to use our role as investors.
The issuing of this easement is in direct response to the Trump Administration’s January 24 Presidential Memorandum to the Secretary of the Army, which sought to unjustly expedite the environmental review and approval method on the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The decision suspends the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Process ordered by the Obama Administration, which would determine the safety, environmental and climate impacts of the pipeline and alternative route crossings, necessitating Tribal consultation and full public input and analysis.
This morally unacceptable decision ignores the dignity and tribal sovereignty of our Native American brothers and sisters. It furtively undercuts the rule of law and the U.S. government’s duty and responsibility to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to accurately identify the risks to its treaty rights, including its water, health and sacred ancestral lands.
The Sisters of Mercy, who routinely call for realization of the human right to water, acknowledge the tribe’s concerns and join them in recognizing that “water is life.” We also fear the almost certain risk, from contamination and pipeline spills, to the millions of people living downstream from the project.
This action is yet another chapter in the U.S. government’s history of injustice to tribal nations and people. In this case, much of the land and water at the focal point of the pipeline dispute was taken from the Lakota tribes through the federal government’s abrogation of the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868.
The Sisters of Mercy stand in solidarity with indigenous peoples around the world who are fighting for environmental and human rights against extractive industry projects such as pipelines, mega-dams and open-pit mines, including in Honduras, Panama, Peru and the Philippines. And we reject the militarized response to and criminalization of protesters at Standing Rock and elsewhere.
Please join us in urging members of Congress to speak out against this decision, as some members of the House and Senate Natural Resources committees have done.