A coalition of prominent celebrities, indigenous leaders and environmental groups wrote to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris urging them to shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), which was operating without legal permission.
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 for the White House to close the 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 that could result in DAPL’s oil operations being suspended while a U.S. Army engineering body conducts a comprehensive environmental impact assessment ordered by the court last year.
The president will also face pressure from a group of Lakota Native American youths today taking part in a 93-mile relay across the Standing Rock Sioux Nation to the Cannonball River, which hosted the #NoDAPL resistance camps in 2016.
The actions follow a wave of environmental justice and climate action policies announced by Biden since taking office, including the cancellation of the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline, accession to the Paris Agreement and halting construction of the southern border wall.
The letter, also signed by the Sunrise Movement, the Indigenous Environmental Network, 350.org, Zero Hour and the Sierra Club, calls on Biden and Harris to remedy what is called historical injustice.
“As soon as your administration takes action to address the climate crisis and strengthen ties with indigenous communities, we respectfully ask you to reverse another adverse Trump administrative decision and shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) immediately during a court-ordered environmental review. . ” stated in a letter.
The local movement to stop the DAPL pipeline was one of the most significant indigenous rights and climate justice campaigns in recent years, sparking in 2016 Standing Rock protests that were brutally suppressed by security forces.
Since then, the DAPL from North Dakota to Illinois has been stirred by permits and legal disputes.
Barack Obama stopped the project shortly before he left office, only Donald Trump changed his decision and accelerated his construction despite the Standing Rock Sioux tribe continuing to sue.
The pipeline has been completed and currently delivers about 500,000 barrels of crude oil per day, despite a court order ordering an army unit to conduct a comprehensive environmental impact assessment – which should have been done before the project began.
Last month, a judge ruled that the pipeline was operating illegally without the necessary federal permits.
The court will hear evidence from the Army Corps on Wednesday before deciding whether the pipeline should be shut down while the environmental review, which could take about a year, is completed.
Biden did not speak publicly about the DAPL, but last May, Harris signed an amicus document and joined the tribes to call a judge to shut it down while an environmental impact assessment is being done.