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.

You Make Our Work Possible

You Make Our Work Possible

We are standing at a pivotal moment in history, one in which education and advocacy around the climate emergency, public health, racial injustice, and economic inequity is imperative. At Earth Island Journal, we have doubled down on our commitment to uplifting stories that often go unheard, to centering the voices of frontline communities, and to always speak truth to power. We are nonprofit publication. We don’t have a paywall because our mission is to inform, educate and inspire action. 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.

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

The Latest

Sailing the Seas on Reused Plastic

A traditional Swahili dhow known as the FlipFlopi shows that environmental innovation can persist in tradition.

Tasha Goldberg

A Plea to Recognize the Legal Rights of the Maas River

I am advocating for a new legal status for the Maas in the hope that it becomes the first river in Europe with rights.

Jessica den Outer

Nearly 60 Million Americans Don’t Drink Their Tap Water, Research Suggests

Distrust and disuse of tap water is a public health problem.

Asher Rosinger

Uruguay’s Remarkable Shift to Renewables Offers a Blueprint for Energy Progress

However, the country’s ground-breaking energy initiatives now face a new challenge — a new governing party with more conservative views.

Andy McDonough

Biden in Risky Talks to Pay Brazil to Save Amazon

Activists fear billion-dollar climate deal will bolster Bolsonaro and reward illegal forest clearance, but US says action can’t wait.

Jonathan Watts The Guardian

Illinois Wind Farm Project Threatens Rare Frog Species

Researchers say that the 30,000-acre Glacier Sands Wind Project could jeopardize Illinois chorus frogs, which burrow and feed underground.

Niko McCarty