Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life Applauds Administration for Halting Pipeline Construction, and Stands with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
December 4, 2016(New York, NY) – The Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL, the environmental arm of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs) appreciates the Army Corps of Engineers’ and Administration’s decision to suspend all permits for the Dakota Access Pipeline, pending completion of a full environmental impact statement in consultation with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
Until recently, while heartened that the Army Corps of Engineers ws weighing alternate routes for the pipeline, we remained concerned that construction is still underway. It is our understanding that due consideration, as required by law, had not been given to tribal interests during the permitting process. JCPA and COEJL believe that all people have the right to live, work, study, and play in environments free of dangerous air, water, or land pollution.
“Social and environmental sustainability go hand in hand,” says Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb, Chair of COEJL. “From the story of the Exodus to the laws of Sabbath and Sabbatical, environmental justice is a central concern of our tradition. We stand with Standing Rock, because the commands to ‘love your neighbor’ and to ‘respect creation’ are ultimately one.”
Given that Energy Transfer Partners, the parent company of Dakota Access, LLC, had already violated the rights of Native people and destroyed sacred burial lands by denying a U.S. Department of Justice request for a temporary halt to construction, it was imperative that the Administration suspend all of the pipeline’s permits until the Army Corps of Engineers can demonstrate that the pipeline does not jeopardize the health, safety, and cultural identity of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and its lands. We are most grateful that it did.
Earlier this year, our organizations went beyond reaffirming our previous statements on climate change and the environment, to call on our communities to intensify our collective efforts toward climate justice. The Dakota Access Pipeline, which would increase our nation’s greenhouse gas emissions and pose a significant danger to water resources, thus runs contrary to our goals of combating climate change and protecting the earth. It also reminds us that vulnerable groups, including indigenous communities like the Standing Rock Sioux, continue to bear a disproportionate burden of the effects of climate change.
We strongly support the tribe in its moral and legal efforts to secure environmental justice for its people, even as we feel kinship in its struggle to protect their people and their lands. We are encouraged by the hundreds of Native American tribes and allied protestors, including many from the Jewish community, who have come together on this important issue – and we are proud to stand with them.