The Massachusetts Nurses Association, the largest union and professional association representing more than 23,000 registered nurses and health professionals in the Commonwealth, has taken a position in strong opposition to the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline, which would traverse sacred land under the Sioux Standing Rock Reservation. This project is being pursued in violation of a U.S. Government treaty with the Sioux nation, while also violating a number of land use and environmental protection statutes and regulations. The MNA will contribute to the Standing Rock Defense Fund, a fund established by a coalition of tribal leaders, environmental, religious and social justice advocacy groups seeking to halt the project.
The MNA opposition to the Dakota Pipeline project is in keeping with the organization’s broader positions regarding the need to stop permitting oil and gas infrastructure and instead move toward more clean, sustainable sources of energy to protect the health of people and the planet.
“As frontline nurses, we have witnessed the public health impacts of our over reliance on fossil fuels and the infrastructure that transports them, whether it be the rise in asthma rates, other respiratory illnesses and certain types of cancer, or the potential devastating impact on local communities and ecosystems if and when these systems fail,” said Donna Kelly-Williams, RN, President of the MNA.
Aside from the health impacts, the MNA is outraged by the decision to locate this pipeline on the Standing Rock reservation, as it represents another example of governmental and private interests seeking to exploit the Native American population and the underprivileged who lack the political clout and financial resources to prevent such unlawful trampling of their rights.
“The grassroots resistance movement to this project has energized environmental and social justice advocates across the nation, and serves as a touchstone for public education about this issue, and as a stepping stone for broader efforts to protect our environment and our future on this planet,” said Kelly-Williams. “The MNA is proud to be involved in this noble effort.”
Founded in 1903, the Massachusetts Nurses Association is the largest union of registered nurses in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Its 23,000 members advance the nursing profession by fostering high standards of nursing practice, promoting the economic and general welfare of nurses in the workplace, projecting a positive and realistic view of nursing, and by lobbying the Legislature and regulatory agencies on health care issues affecting nurses and the public.