September 9, 2016
A statement of support to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe from Young Evangelicals for Climate Action
Young Evangelicals for Climate Action (Y.E.C.A.) stands with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, and hundreds of other tribes, in their pursuit of justice for their people and their lands. The proposed construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAP) is in direct violation of the treaties signed between the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the United States government. In addition, the proposed route for the DAP runs directly through sensitive natural ecosystems and sacred indigenous sites, including underneath the Missouri River—a primary drinking source for millions. Given the enormous potential environmental impact of the DAP, as well as the human and cultural impact on those indigenous communities affected by its construction, it is unconscionable that the DAP has been allowed to move forward without any significant environmental risk assessments and without meaningful engagement with area stakeholders, including the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
As young evangelical Christians, we believe that climate change is one of the greatest moral challenges of our time. The inheritance of future generations is being squandered, while the worst impacts of a warming world continue to be felt most acutely by the poor and the vulnerable around the world. Urgent action is needed to quickly transition our economy away from the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels and toward zero emission renewables. Fossil fuel infrastructure projects like the DAP take us in the opposite direction and only tighten the grip that fossil fuel dependence currently has on our economy. If completed, the DAP would transport up to half a million barrels of oil a day to market—oil that needs to stay in the ground if we are to achieve the Paris Agreements’ goal of keeping warming well below 2 degrees centigrade by 2100.
The current struggle of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe illuminates the deep systemic injustices upon which our current economic life resides—economic and legal inequities that collude to exploit and marginalize both the earth and indigenous communities like the Stand Rock Sioux Tribe. In order to equitably address the root causes of climate change, these injustices must be named and rooted out wherever possible. In order to be faithful to its mission of coming together to overcome the climate crisis as part of our Christian witness and discipleship, Y.E.C.A. cannot remain silent in the face of the injustice that is being met so bravely and creatively by those from the Standing Rock Sioux People who are striving to protect their community, their air, their water, and their lands.
We pray for strength and encouragement for these protectors, for compassion and empathy from Energy Transfer Partners, for wisdom for the judges and other officials working to find a solution, and for prophetic creativity for the global church—that it might boldly stand for justice at all times and in all places.