Army Corps of Engineers Threatens; How do we Respond?

The Army Corps of Engineers first announced that on December 5, it iwould clear the Standing Rock, North Dakota, camp led by Native communities and supported by hundreds of non-Natives –-  the camp that has stood fast against the building of the Dakota [Oil} Access Pipeline.

Then under a stom of outrage that flooded White House comment lines enough to shut them down for hours at a time, The Corps saod it was only intending to remove insurance coverage for people in the camp, not to bar entry. But the Governor of North Dakota leaped in, his cowby anti-Native spurs clanking, to announce that he would bar eny to the camp.

We have already seen, in the horrific maiming of Sophia Wilansky, what attacks by the hyper-militarized  police have done to unarmed, nonviolent, prayerful Water Protectors. How many Sophias will have to suffer before we put a stop to this deadliness?

We should not let this moment pass, supine. The Standing Rock resistance to the Dakota Pipe Line has galvanized nation-wide support. It connects three concentric circles of life  --  sacred Native land; the millions who drink from the Missouri River; and billions of human beings and other life-forms who are already suffering from the the world-wide climate crisis, which will worsen as the oil carried by the Pipe Line is burned.

The Native and non-Native Water Protectors have created a powerful local/ national amalgam to face the Corporate Carbon Pharaohs,  much as 50 years ago –- when the “ local” bus boycotts, sit-ins, and freedom rides were attacked by Bull Connor’s cops. The local issues clicked with a national concern. The result was a national movement ready to face the Segregation system. 

Just so, today there should be nation-wide responses to Standing Rock that click with the world’s need to heal the Earth from Carbon Pharaohs. The mentality that oppresses the Native Nations is the same as the memtality that torments Mother  Earth.

What responses?   

  1. Already, beginning four weeks ago, we at The Shalom Center helped initiate a Rabbinic Statement supporting the Water Protectors and calling for a halt to the Pipe Line. More than 300 Rabbis from every strand of American Jewish life, and about 50 other spiritual leaders of the Jewish people have already signed.
  2.  Now we invite all members and readers of The Shalom Center, and your friends and co-workers, to join in that petition. We will use it to influence officials who can make a difference to what happens at Standing Rock, more broadly to the great Missouri River, and still more broadly to the planet that is our common home. You can read the Statement, and join in it, by clicking here: <>

 The statement itself mentions several actions its signers urge the Jewish community to take. Now the signers, and all of us, should take those actions: “We call on Jewish communities and their leaders throughout our country to speak out in congregations and publicly, and to gather in prayerful vigils in our own communities. Call the White House at (202) 456-1111 or (202) 456-1414 to tell President Obama to rescind the Army Corps of Engineers’ permit for the Dakota Access Pipeline; and  call the Army Corps of Engineers (202) 761-5903 -- and demand that they rescind the permit.

  1. On December 5, wherever across America there is an office of the Army Corps of Engineers, there should be a line of nonviolent picketers across its doorways. Wherever across America there is a branch of Wells Fargo, one of several banks that put up the money for the Dakota Pipe Line, the bank should lose depositors and gain nonviolent picketers.  We urge local clergy of all traditions to take the lead in protecting the spiritual wisdom of the Native Nations and the spiritual values of the Earth.

And the networks of resistance that we put together now must become even stronger as we move into Trump-time.  Trump (and a cooperative Congress) plan to dismantle many of the (too few, but real) safeguards against climate chaos that we have in place now.

So for now, and probably the next four years, regional, state, city, & neighborhood arenas will be the only possible venues for successful steps to stop the arsonists who are burning Earth, our common home, and instead creating an economy and culture based on renewable energy.

  • We can create city-government-sponsored public banks.  They could refuse to invest in burning down our homes and farms and forests. Instead, they could invest in growing our country and creating real jobs with green infrastructure that is desperately needed.
  • We can create neighborhood-based solar energy co-ops.  
  • We can create multi-state compacts for carbon taxes that pay dividends to their residents from the money raised by the taxes.
  •  Sophia Wilansky came to Standing Rock from taking part in struggles against similar pipelines in New England and New York.  She already saw the many local and regional struggles against pipelines for oil and unnatural gas as part of a nation-wide struggle. We can reconfigure them in that model.
  • We can begin at state and multi-state levels, and put forward as a national program even if there are not yet enough Congressional votes for it, a massive good-job-creating green infrastructure program, focusing on energy conservation measures in millions of existing buildings, swift railroads, wind and solar farms, strong support and subsidies for urban and rural and small-town solar and wind energy co-ops, interconnecting networks of transmission lines for shipping renewable energy across country, clean water systems, and similar switch-overs to a full-scale renewable-energy, clean-air-and- water  economy.

Making this a clear national program, as opposed to Trumpian proposals for tax credits to high-profit corporations to build infrastructure, would make clear what a real commitment to jobs and small businesses would be, and might begin responding to some of the real needs of many Trump voters.

All these can quickly make real differences to Mother Earth. And they can build the grass-roots networks that, a few years further on, can make the Federal government responsive to the danger of climate chaos and the promise of renewable energy.



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