More than 200 actors, comedians, and athletes called for President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to immediately shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) in a letter dated on Monday.
The celebrities’ request comes three weeks after Biden’s controversial executive order to “advance environmental justice,” by cancelling the Keystone XL pipeline project. The letter began by thanking the administration for focusing on “climate change, tribal sovereignty, and racial justice and equity,” but urging the White House to “reverse another harmful Trump Administration decision,” and shut down the DAPL straightaway.
The letter calls the pipeline’s construction “illegal,” and cites that it was shifted from its original site across the Missouri River near Bismarck, MD to the Standing Rock Sioux tribal land after “the risk of an oil spill on the city’s 90% white inhabitants was deemed too great.”
“The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved several of the required permits without conducting an Environmental Impact Statement or adequately consulting with the Tribe,” reads the statement signed by Jane Fonda, Leonardo DiCaprio, Chris Evans, Cher, and more celebrities.
The letter alleges that after months of protests from the tribe, the Obama administration declined to issue the pipeline’s final permit and the Army Corps of Engineers announced plans to conduct an environmental review, but former President Trump “stopped the review and fast tracked the pipeline hours after he took office, further violating tribal sovereignty.”
After a four year legal battle over the pipeline, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled the DAPL was operating illegally on January 27, and gave the Biden administration the power to shut it down. Now prominent Hollywood stars including Ryan Reynolds, Robert Downey Jr., Alyssa Milano, and Joaquin Phoenix are calling on the president to do so.
“We urge you to remedy this historic injustice and direct the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to immediately shut down the illegal Dakota Access Pipeline while the Environmental Impact Statement process is conducted, consistent with the D.C. District Court’s decision and order.”
“With your leadership, we have a momentous opportunity to protect our water and respect our environmental laws and the rights of Indigenous people. This is our moment,” the letter concludes.