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    Urging CalPERS to Divest from the Dakota Access Pipeline

    1-Photo-RebeccaKaplan(1)By Rebecca Kaplan, Oakland City Councilmember At-Large

    In September, the Oakland City Council passed my Resolution opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), and supporting the land, water, and treaty rights of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Since then, President Trump has granted an easement allowing the pipeline to be constructed under the Missouri River half a mile upstream of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. When the pipeline was originally proposed to travel through a White neighborhood, the community opposed it and the company backed off, re-routing it to threaten Native American lands, water, and tribal rights. This represents a troubling example of environmental racism, and must not be tolerated.

    Despite the threats the pipeline poses to public health, the water supply and sacred land, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) owns about 1.1 million shares of Energy Transfer Partners, the company involved in the pipeline project. As a CalPERS member, I refuse to stand by and allow my retirement money to fund the DAPL.

    In January, I authored a letter ( to the governing board of CalPERS, urging them to immediately act to fully divest from any involvement in the DAPL. Last week, I traveled to Sacramento with many other stakeholders to deliver our message to the CalPERS Finance Committee in person: “It’s time for CalPERS to stand in solidarity with Standing Rock.”

    Going into the meeting, CalPERS leaders had urged the board to oppose divestment from the pipeline project, stating that divestment could affect about $4 billion in investments, and CalPERS would lose its ability to influence the project. After hearing our testimony, the board delayed its decision, and several of its members said they were swayed by the dozens of people who spoke out against investing in the 1,100-mile pipeline, which would carry oil from North Dakota to Illinois.

    In Oakland, I also authored a Resolution ( asking the City Council to demand that CalPERS divest from any involvement in the pipeline project. The Resolution passed unanimously at the Rules and Legislation Committee, and garnered support from the SEIU and California Nurses Association. As our nation is confronted by the injustices brought on by the Trump Administration, it is as important as ever that we continue to fight for policies that serve our communities and reflect our values. We must stand up for peace and justice, and let it be known: Not in our name!

    Oakland City Councilmember At-Large Rebecca Kaplan was elected in 2008 and was re-elected in 2012, and again in 2016. She is working for safe neighborhoods, for local jobs and for a fresh start for Oakland. Councilmember Kaplan graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, obtained a master’s degree from Tufts University and a Juris Doctor from Stanford Law School.