Marie Kuch-Stanvosky and Rev. Jenny Phillips demonstrate in Seattle, WA against the Dakota Access Pipeline following presidential action to revive the project.

Many United Methodists, including the Western Jurisdiction Bishops, the General Board of Church and Society, United Methodist Women, the General Board of Global Ministries, and countless individuals, have pledged to support the rights of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline, an oil and gas pipeline that was slated to cross land that is sacred to the tribe, and that would risk polluting the tribe’s drinking water.

In December, the Army Corps of Engineers said it would not approve an easement for the pipeline to cross Lake Oahe. It said it would instead seek alternate routes for the pipeline through an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The EIS process, which includes significant opportunity for public comment, began January 18, 2017, just prior to the presidential inauguration.

On Tuesday of this week, President Trump signed an executive order telling the Army Corps to consider “whether to rescind or modify” the decision to deny the easement and begin a new EIS without proper consultation with the tribes.

Northwest tribal leaders, in conversation with the Standing Rock Sioux, are asking people of faith to comment on the EIS as soon as possible, before new leaders are appointed to the Army Corps.

Rev. Emma Donohew demonstrates against the Dakota Access and Keystone XL Pipeline in Washington, DC with Tim Palmer during a General Board of Church and Society young clergy event.

Northwest tribal leaders, in conversation with the Standing Rock Sioux, are asking people of faith to comment on the EIS as soon as possible.

If you want to do something quick and easy, the Indigenous Environmental Network has created a simple pre-written comment that you can customize.

If you wish to write your own, check out the comment form above for ideas, as well as this article from Yes! Magazine with comment ideas and more information on the process. Some additional points you might consider making are below.

I urge you not to be overwhelmed by these resources, but rather to be emboldened by them. You have everything you need to make an impactful comment. This is work we are called to do to live into our repentance for the role the church played in harming American Indian communities in the past. We know better and can do better now.

You have everything you need to make an impactful comment.

According to the public notice on this EIS, you can mail, hand-deliver, or email your comment. Comments can be mailed or delivered to: Mr. Gib Owen
Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works
108 Army Pentagon, Washington, DC 20310-0108

Include your name return address, and “NOI Comments, Dakota Access Pipeline Crossing: on the first page of your comment.

Comments can be emailed to: Mr. Gib Owen
For the subject line use: “NOI Comments, Dakota Access Pipeline Crossing”

Additional ideas for your comment:

  • The Army Corps must prepare an Environmental Impact Statement before making any decision to approve or deny an easement to cross Lake Oahe. It cannot reverse its decision without substantial and substantive new information to justify such a reversal.
  • On January 18, 2016, the US Army Corps of Engineers issued notice of its intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in connection with Dakota Access, LLC’s request to grant an easement to cross Lake Oahe, which is on the Missouri River and owned by the Corps. As a matter of law, the Corps’ notice of intent to prepare an EIS presents a determination that the easement to cross Lake Oahe may have significant adverse environmental impacts within the meaning of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Accordingly, an EIS is mandated under NEPA before the Corps can take any action that would affect the range of reasonable alternatives to crossing Lake Oahe.
  • The Army Corps must examine the full range of direct, indirect, and cumulative potential significant adverse impacts which may arise from the action, including construction, operation, and impacts which would result from an adverse incident such as a leak or explosion, including but not limited to adverse impacts to:
  • surface and groundwater resources;
  • cultural resources, including physical, archaeological and tribal resources in the immediate and surrounding vicinity of the easement, as well as the length of the pipeline, as well as the cultural impacts to local stakeholders such as tribal communities;
  • social and economic impacts which may result from the potential destruction of cultural and environmental resources;
  • public health and safety;
  • climate change, and climate security, including analysis of endpoint combustion of fossil fuel resources which would be transported through the pipeline.
  • United Methodists support upholding Native American access to and protection of sacred sites and public lands for ceremonial purposes. United Methodists believe that sovereign tribes have a right to free, prior, and informed consent to proposed infrastructure impacting their lands. Native peoples have a right to clean water and safe living environments.

You can also call the United States Capitol switchboard to leave a message for your senators at (202) 224-3121.

United Methodist News Service published an update today with comments on President Trump’s executive order from the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Click here to read.

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