In mid-September, Boston Common issued a public statement in support of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in its opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and sent an update report later in the month. This is our third update on the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Boston Common is currently working on two fronts:

  • In collaboration with First Peoples Worldwide and the Shareholder Association for Research & Education in Canada, we are crafting shareholder proposals for three of the five primary companies in the Dakota Access Pipeline project: Marathon PetroleumPhillips 66, and Enbridge. The proposals will likely be filed in the next few weeks.  The other two major DAPL partners, Energy Transfer Partners and Sunoco Logistics, are limited partnerships where proxy proposals cannot be filed.
  • Boston Common will continue to press lenders on their financing of the Dakota Access Pipeline and other similar projects. According to Food & Water Watch, 19 banks have provided project level financing for the Dakota Access Pipeline. The four top lenders to DAPL itself are CitibankTD SecuritiesBank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ, and Mizuho Bank. Another 19 banks have provided revolving credit to the Energy Transfer family companies. In the past, Boston Common has been successful at engaging project financiers to elucidate key investment risks. We are readying investor sign-on letters to the banks as well as the pipeline companies.

If you are interested in participating in our engagements on this issue, please reach out to Steven Heim.

As of early November, the pipeline company has continued to construct its pipeline less than a mile from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe reservation and its Lake Oahe water supply, the Missouri River. This comes despite the request by three agencies of the federal government on October 10th that the “pipeline company voluntarily pause all construction activity within 20 miles east or west of Lake Oahe.” Tensions have mounted between groups opposing the pipeline, called the water protectors, and law enforcement officials. As of this writing, DAPL still needs formal approval by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build the pipeline under Lake Oahe and the Missouri River. On November 1, President Obama stated that the Army Corps is examining whether there are ways to reroute this pipeline.

Over the past two months, Boston Common, in conjunction with First Peoples Worldwide, has led efforts to educate investors about the Dakota Access Pipeline and the concerns of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Steven Heim, Director of ESG Research at Boston Common, organized meetings or conference calls between the Chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe or other tribal representatives, and investors, such as the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, the Investors and Indigenous Peoples Working Group, major pension funds, and Wall Street analysts. We have also reached out to key lenders to the pipeline to convey the Tribe’s views and flag our concerns regarding the risks involved.

From recent meetings with the Chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Dave Archambault II, we understand the core issues for the Tribe:  protecting water from oil contamination and protecting sites that are sacred to the Tribe. As investors, we are also concerned by the grave risks from an oil pipeline spill, particularly at a water crossing. Precedents for major oil pipeline accidents include the oil spills that damaged the Yellowstone River in Montana (2011) and Kalamazoo River in Michigan (2010). Therefore, we support the Tribe’s call for a full environmental impact statement before an easement is granted.



The information in this document should not be considered a recommendation to buy or sell any security. There is no assurance that any securities discussed will remain in an account’s portfolio at the time you receive this document. The securities discussed do not represent an account’s entire portfolio and may represent only a small portion of an account’s holdings. It should not be assumed that any securities transactions we discuss were or will prove to be profitable. Past performance does not guarantee future results. All investments involve risk, including the risk of losing principal.

Published On: November 7, 2016Categories: From the Commons