Jul 07, 2021
More than 200 activists, celebrities, Democratic donors, and environmentalists on Wednesday joined the Indigenous-led fight against Line 3 with a letter calling on President Joe Biden to cancel Enbridge's tar sands pipeline project.
"We are asking you to reject Line 3 and to firmly establish the principle that we will move forward toward real climate solutions."
--Letter to President Joe Biden
"Your presidency is a watershed in human history, the last chance to turn the tide before climate disruption spirals out of control," the letter (pdf) begins, expressing gratitude for Biden's decision to cancel the Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline on his first day in office.
Biden reversing the Trump administration's approval of KXL, the letter says, "was about finally turning the tide with a resolute American commitment to serious, science-based climate action--a hallmark of your candidacy and, we believe, a pillar of your presidency."
However, "if the principle established in the KXL decision applied only to one project," the signatories explain, "it would be no principle at all, and we could have no coherent or effective climate policy."
"We are asking you to reject Line 3 and to firmly establish the principle that we will move forward toward real climate solutions," they write. "This principle should be applied consistently, starting with a review of all major projects that your predecessor--a climate denier--approved."
\u201cOn his 1st day in office @POTUS put an end to #KXL but he can't stop there. Line 3, a tar sands pipeline on the same scale as KXL, is an attack on clean water, our climate & Indigenous rights. Read our letter to the White House demanding they #StopLine3 \u27a1 https://t.co/36JE5jg35G\u201d— Mark Ruffalo (@Mark Ruffalo) 1625674335
The letter's signatories include Hollywood stars and musicians, such as Patricia and Rose Arquette, Orlando Bloom, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jane Fonda, Danny Glover, Bon Iver, Joaquin Phoenix, Katy Perry, Bonnie Raitt, Mark Ruffalo, Amy Schumer, and Lily Tomlin.
Others who signed on include leaders at advocacy groups such as Michael Brune of Sierra Club, Abigail Dillen of Earthjustice, and Ezra Levin and Leah Greenberg of Indivisible, as well as author and activist Bill McKibben and 2020 Democratic presidential primary candidate Tom Steyer.
During a call with reporters on Wednesday, Ruffalo called Line 3 a "carbon bomb," noting the impact of tar sands in particular, and said that this is a "major issue" for Biden in terms of his "credibility on climate change."
Emphasizing the connection between climate change and environmental justice, he added that with this letter, "you're seeing a very determined and very influential group demanding that these issues are seen hand-in-hand."
"This is racism," Ruffalo said of Line 3, acknowledging the communities often impacted by polluting projects--including during construction and related protests, which in Minnesota have been met with militarized and repressive responses by law enforcement.
Both Ruffalo and Honor the Earth executive director Winona LaDuke, one of the Indigenous leaders in the fight against Line 3, also highlighted the role that Native Americans and other historically marginalized communities played in getting Biden elected last year.
"I drove people to the polls for you, Joe Biden," LaDuke said on the call. "We want you to uphold your promises."
In a comment to Common Dreams, LaDuke added that "this is everybody's water and everybody's air and everybody's future, and we're super grateful for these celebrities for coming in and using their influence and power to draw attention to our issues."
\u201c#Line3 is an attack on clean water & our climate that perpetuates environmental injustice & our nation\u2019s shameful legacy of oppression of Indigenous peoples. Today, 200+ allied activists called on @POTUS & @USACEHQ to respect Tribal rights and #StopLine3. https://t.co/jYFOcDOamS\u201d— WinonaLaDuke (@WinonaLaDuke) 1625671822
First reported by NBC News, the letter comes as Indigenous leaders and climate justice advocates continue to challenge Line 3 on the ground--with direct actions that have sometimes halted construction and led to arrests--and in court.
The Biden administration outraged Line 3 opponents last month by filing a legal brief that backed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' approval of the project under former President Donald Trump.
Along with pointing out Line 3's similarities to KXL and its climate impacts, the letter notes that Enbridge's project, which would replace an old oil pipeline with smaller capacity on a new route, "violates the rights and lifeways of the Anishinaabe people by endangering the headwaters of the Mississippi River, including critical areas for hunting, fishing, harvesting wild rice, and cultural resources--rights that the U.S. is bound by treaty and integrity to uphold."
"Construction of the project is an unfolding human rights crisis," the letter says. "Operating it over its lifetime would significantly exacerbate the climate crisis. It fails any reasonable test of climate justice."
\u201cThe White House clearly wants to ignore the protests. It\u2019s exactly what Obama tried to do on KXL, which became a thorn in his side for his entire presidency until he rejected it. Biden shouldn\u2019t make the same mistake.\u201d— Jamie Henn (@Jamie Henn) 1625662885
Though the signatories primarily focus on Line 3, they also say more broadly that "the imperative to end fossil fuel infrastructure expansion is common sense, backed by multiple lines of scientific and economic research," referencing a recent report from the International Energy Agency (IEA), "a decidedly pro-energy and notoriously cautious institution."
"Your administration clearly takes climate science seriously, but major new fossil fuel development flouts the most practical implication of that science," the signatories assert. "As the IEA affirmed, there is simply no time and no need for fossil fuel expansion. We can build a stronger, fairer economy and healthier communities starting now, with existing, affordable clean energy and transportation solutions."
The signatories also welcome Biden's American Jobs Plan--which they say "would launch us toward a livable future with major investments in the clean energy economy, healthy communities, and good jobs"--and suggest the removal of "thousands of miles of badly deteriorating pipelines," including the original Line 3, could provide jobs to former fossil fuel industry workers.
"Please end the era of fossil fuel expansion decisively, so we can begin the era of clean energy and climate solutions with all the hope and commitment it requires," they implore Biden. "Science, justice, and the boundless American capacity to tackle big challenges are on our side. Time is not."
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