Celebrities join environmental and indigenous groups calling on Biden to shut down Dakota Access pipeline

Oliver O’ConnellTue, 9 February 2021, 10:37 pm

Dozens of protestors demonstrating against the expansion of the Dakota Access Pipeline wade in cold creek waters confronting local police, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota in November 2016 (AP Photo/John L. Mone File)
Dozens of protestors demonstrating against the expansion of the Dakota Access Pipeline wade in cold creek waters confronting local police, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota in November 2016 (AP Photo/John L. Mone File)

A group of A-listers have joined environmental and indigenous groups in calling on Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to shut down the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL).

The pipeline has been operating without a legal permit since a 27 January court ruling. The letter argues that the pipeline poses serious environmental risks to tribal lands, water resources, and wildlife along with impacting indigenous cultural and religious practices.

Among the signatories on the letter to President Biden are the cast of The Avengers including Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Don Cheadle, and Chris Hemsworth. Musicians including Cher, Cyndi Lauper, and Dave Matthews also added their names.

The letter reads: “We urge you to remedy this historic injustice and direct the US Army Corps of Engineers to immediately shut down the illegal Dakota Access Pipeline while the Environmental Impact Statement process is conducted.”

It also calls for the Army Corps to ensure a robust environmental review is undertaken with significant tribal consultation, tribal consent, and a thorough risk analysis.

Other actors who signed the letter include Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Amy Schumer, Jane Fonda, Chelsea Handler, Joaquin Phoenix, Jason Momoa, Jennifer Connelly, Orlando Bloom, Paul Bettany, Ryan Reynolds, and Uzo Aduba.

Organisations including the Indigenous Environmental Network, Sunrise Movement, Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, NDN Collective, and IllumiNative also signed on.

The letter is being sent at the same time as a 93-mile relay run being led by Standing Rock youth to put pressure on Mr Biden to take action.

Tuesday’s run crosses the Standing Rock Sioux Nation and ends at the historic Oceti Sakowin Camp, site of the 2016 #NoDAPL Standing Rock protests.

The movement to stop the Dakota Access pipeline has been one of the most high-profile Indigenous rights and climate justice issues.

The pipeline is complete and stretches from North Dakota to Illinois. Construction was halted by former president Barack Obama before he left office, but then fast-tracked by Donald Trump in 2017 when he became president.

President Biden has taken a number of actions relating to the climate crisis and environmental justice since taking office, including rejoining the Paris agreement to tackle global emissions and cancelling the Keystone XL pipeline.

The decision to cancel Keystone XL has caused some controversy with its immediate impact on jobs amid the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

In another letter to the president sent on Tuesday, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, of West Virginia, urged him to reverse his decision on the pipeline. He argued that it is the safest mode to transport oil and natural gas as well as supporting thousands of jobs.

“I encourage you to reconsider your decision to revoke the cross-border permit for the Keystone XL pipeline and take into account the potential impacts of any further action to safety, jobs, and energy security,” Mr Manchin wrote.

The senator is key to Democrat legislative priorities as the most moderate member of the party and as the chairman of the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee.