The Potluck

Celebrities pen letter urging Biden to cancel Line 3 pipeline project

By: - July 7, 2021 12:13 pm

More than 2,000 people converged on northern Minnesota to oppose further construction of Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline on June 7, 2021. Photo by Rilyn Eischens/Minnesota Reformer.

More than 200 celebrities, activists, writers and wealthy democratic donors sent a letter to President Joe Biden urging him to halt construction on Enbridge’s Line 3 oil pipeline in northern Minnesota.

The list of signatories includes Katy Perry, Danny Glover, Leonardo DiCaprio and Amy Schumer. They call on Biden to make other moves toward sustainable energy, citing his campaign promises to take aggressive action on climate change. The letter also compares Line 3 to Keystone XL, the pipeline project for which Biden revoked a key permit on his first day in office. 

“In politics you win some and you lose some. But treating this as a political balancing act — pleasing climate advocates on one pipeline and appeasing fossil fuel interests on the next — would not be realistic climate policy,” the letter says. “We are asking you to reject Line 3 and to firmly establish the principle that we will move forward toward real climate solutions — not backward and forward simultaneously.”

Pipeline opponents also argue in the letter that the project threatens natural resources critical to Indigenous people and violates their treaty rights to the land.

They reference a memo issued by Biden in January about tribal consultation, in which Biden said he would prioritize “respect for Tribal sovereignty and self-governance, commitment to fulfilling Federal trust and treaty responsibilities to Tribal Nations, and regular, meaningful, and robust consultation with Tribal Nations cornerstones of Federal Indian policy.”

“We need to move forward in the spirit of reconciliation toward our national ideals,” the letter reads. “This project would do the opposite.”

The letter comes just weeks after the Biden administration defended the project in response to a legal challenge filed by tribes and environmental groups over a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit for the project. His administration urged the court to reject the challenge, a victory for Enbridge and major disappointment to activists fighting the pipeline in Minnesota.

The 337-mile Line 3 replacement is about 60% complete and expected to be operational by the end of the year, following six years of permitting, review and litigation. Opposition to the project has been heating up since construction started in December, including a demonstration that drew more than 2,000 people to northern Minnesota in early June.

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Rilyn Eischens
Rilyn Eischens

Rilyn Eischens is a data reporter with the Reformer. Rilyn is a Minnesota native and has worked in newsrooms in the Twin Cities, Iowa, Texas and most recently Virginia, where she covered education for The Staunton News Leader. She's an alumna of the Dow Jones News Fund data journalism program and the Minnesota Daily. When Rilyn isn't in the newsroom, she likes to read, add to her plant collection and try new recipes.