Celebrities Call on Biden and Harris to Shut Down Dakota Access Pipeline

Indigenous leaders, environmental groups, and stars including Cher and Robert Downey Jr. urge White House in letter.

A coalition of prominent celebrities, Indigenous leaders and environmental groups have written to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris urging them to shut down the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL) which is operating without a legal permit.

Dakota Access Oil Pipeline (DAPL)
The Dakota Access Pipeline stretches from northwest North Dakota to southern Illinois, transporting about 500,000 barrels of crude oil each day. Last month, a judge ruled that the pipeline is operating illegally without the necessary federal permits. Photo by Tony Webster.

Actors, musicians and athletes including Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr, Don Cheadle, Cher, Cyndi Lauper, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Aaron Rodgers, Jane Fonda, Joaquin Phoenix and Orlando Bloom are calling on the White House to close down the oil pipeline which poses serious environmental risks to tribal lands, water and wildlife, as well as indigenous cultural and religious practices.

The letter comes on the eve of a key court hearing which could lead to DAPL’s oil operations being suspended while the US army corps of engineers conducts a robust environmental impact review ordered by the court last year.

The president also faces pressure from a group of Lakota Native American youth who are today taking part in a 93-mile relay run across the Standing Rock Sioux Nation to the Cannonball River, the site of the #NoDAPL resistance camps in 2016.

The actions follow a wave of environmental justice and climate action policies announced by Biden since taking office which include cancelling the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline, rejoining the Paris agreement and halting construction of the southern border wall.

The letter, which is also signed by the Sunrise Movement, Indigenous Environmental Network, 350.org, Zero Hour and the Sierra Club, urges Biden and Harris to remedy what they refer to as a historic injustice.

“As your administration takes action to address the climate crisis and strengthen relationships with Indigenous communities, we respectfully urge you to reverse another harmful Trump administration decision and immediately shut down the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL) during its court-ordered environmental review,” the letter states.

The grassroots movement to stop the DAPL pipeline has been one of the most high-profile indigenous rights and climate justice campaigns in recent years, triggering the Standing Rock protests in 2016 which were brutally repressed by security forces.

Since then, the DAPL, which stretches from North Dakota to Illinois, has been mired in permit and legal controversies.

Barack Obama halted the project not long before leaving office, only for Donald Trump to reverse his decision and fast-track construction despite ongoing litigation by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.

The pipeline was finished and currently transports about 500,000 barrels of crude oil each day, despite a court ruling ordering the army corps to conduct a robust environmental impact review – which should have been done before the project started.

Last month, a judge ruled that the pipeline is operating illegally without the necessary federal permits.

The court will on Wednesday hear evidence from the army corps before deciding whether to shut down the pipeline while the environmental review, which could take a year or so, is completed.

Biden has not spoken publicly about DAPL, but last May Harris signed an amicus brief and joined tribes in calling on a judge to shut it down while an environmental impact study is conducted.

Get the Journal in your inbox.
Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

You Make Our Work Possible

You Make Our Work Possible

We don’t have a paywall because, as a nonprofit publication, our mission is to inform, educate and inspire action to protect our living world. Which is why we rely on readers like you for support. If you believe in the work we do, please consider making a tax-deductible year-end donation to our Green Journalism Fund.

Get the Journal in your inbox.
Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

The Latest

Are Black Vultures Being Scapegoated for Livestock Deaths?

New bill would make it easier for ranchers to kill the protected birds, despite insufficient data on vulture predation.

Ian Rose

To Save Native Plant Communities, Diversify the Field

So says ecologist working to save one of California’s most endangered ecosystems and promote LGBTQ+ visibility in science.

Anna Marija Helt

Biden Attacks Republican Climate Deniers as He Unveils Extreme-Heat Rules

President hails proposal to protect millions of Americans from the nation's top weather-related killer.

Dharna Noor The Guardian

Buying Baja

In Mexico's iconic peninsula, locals fight rich outsiders and rampant development that threaten to transform the coast and dry up aquifers.

Krista Langlois Photos and video by Kristina Blanchflower

Guardians of
the Forest

The rural community of Segunda y Cajas in northern Peru leads efforts to protect one of the most biodiverse areas and vital sources of water for the region.

Leslie Moreno Custodio

A Radical Way to Recover Forest

Deforestation has left scars in Ecuador’s San Andres Valley. But in one village, residents are giving nature a respite by protecting their micro forests.

Jonathan Palma Lavayen