Credit: Camille Seaman

A few weeks ago, before the last protest camps at Standing Rock were cleared, President Donald Trump said he hadn’t “received a single call from anyone” about the Dakota Access pipeline.

One reason that could’ve been the case? The White House comment line was blocked to incoming messages. So we created our own phone number and asked you to leave us a voicemail explaining what you think Trump should know about the pipeline.

Since we first opened up the phone line, we’ve received about 200 voicemails from people in nearly every state – and Canada. A vast majority oppose the pipeline, citing the kinds of reasons that inspired thousands of people to join the movement at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.

A few were outraged over Trump’s comments about not receiving calls:

Many expressed broader concerns about energy production and advocated shifts in policies away from oil and gas to renewable energy:

We received several responses from callers who identified themselves as Native American and expressed solidarity with the tribes affected by the pipeline development:

Several folks told us about actions they themselves had taken to protest the pipeline, including divesting their money from banks, such as Wells Fargo, which finance Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the pipeline. Last month, Seattle became the first city to end its relationship with Wells Fargo in protest of the pipeline.

At least two messages weren’t explicitly against the pipeline, but each came with their own caveat. Reached by phone, Teresa Pedreira said that she’d rather not have the pipeline go through, but if it was going to be constructed anyway, it should be built through one of the original routes proposed by Dakota Access that would have placed the pipeline just north of Bismarck, North Dakota. The plan was rejected for several reasons early in the planning process, including the pipeline’s threat to the municipal water supply.

These are just a sample of the voices we heard. Since the White House comment line now is up and running again, we gave them a call and told them that we had received nearly 200 messages opposing the pipeline. We also are sharing transcripts of the voicemails through the White House’s digital portal, and are creating a CD with all of the messages and mailing a copy to the White House. 

We’ll let you know if we get any response.

In the meantime, we’re going to continue reporting on the issues that were at the heart of the Standing Rock fight. In a new initiative, Chasing Energy, we’re looking at other locations where issues of energy development, Native American and other land rights, and environmental protection converge.

You can help inform our coverage. Just text the word “pipeline” to 701-289-9353 and we’ll send you updates on our reporting and opportunities to weigh in.

And, of course, you can always call the White House yourself and share your thoughts directly: 202-456-1111.

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Cole Goins is the director of community engagement for Reveal, where he cultivates partnerships that blend in-depth journalism and creative public engagement. He has built and supported distribution networks, spearheaded arts-based initiatives such as the Off/Page Project, led social media and audience strategy, and facilitated statewide media collaborations. He was a senior fellow in the 2015 USC Annenberg Health Journalism Fellowships, mentoring five journalists on approaches to community engagement. Previously, Goins was the engagement editor at the Center for Public Integrity, where he led audience development initiatives and multimedia features for award-winning investigative projects. He earned a degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he worked as music director for WXYC, the student-run radio station. He is based in Reveal's Emeryville, California, office.