Celebrities push Biden to oppose controversial Minnesota pipeline

Celebrities push Biden to oppose controversial Minnesota pipeline
© KEREM YUCEL/AFP via Getty Images

Celebrities including Leonardo DiCaprio, Katy Perry and Mark Ruffalo are trying to push the Biden administration to oppose the controversial Line 3 pipeline in Minnesota, highlighting concerns about Indigenous rights and climate change. 

“Construction of the project is an unfolding human rights crisis. Operating it over its lifetime would significantly exacerbate the climate crisis. It fails any reasonable test of climate justice,” reads a Wednesday letter, which was signed by a total of 200 people, including Jane Fonda, Amy SchumerAmy Beth SchumerWill Hollywood abandon Texas over abortion law? The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by AT&T - Senate to vote on infrastructure bill; budget package up next Dave Chappelle, Jon Stewart to headline star-studded 9/11 benefit show MORE, Orlando Bloom, Danny Glover, Joaquin Phoenix and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Tom SteyerTom SteyerOvernight Energy: 'Eye of fire,' Exxon lobbyist's comments fuel renewed attacks on oil industry | Celebrities push Biden to oppose controversial Minnesota pipeline | More than 75 companies ask Congress to pass clean electricity standard Celebrities push Biden to oppose controversial Minnesota pipeline Six things to watch as California heads for recall election MORE

Enbridge's Line 3 vessel has spurred significant protests, as well as court challenges. 


Its opponents say the project will negatively impact land and water where tribes hunt, fish and gather wild rice. Many have also objected to the fact that it would carry carbon-intensive tar sands oil from Canada. 

In a press conference on Wednesday, Ruffalo argued that Biden should try to put a stop to the pipeline for the communities that came out to vote for him.

"Communities across the country mobilized to elect President BidenJoe BidenUN meeting with US, France canceled over scheduling issue Schumer moves to break GOP blockade on Biden's State picks GOP Rep. Cawthorn likens vaccine mandates to 'modern-day segregation' MORE to office, and now we have joined forces once again to demand we follow through on the promises we made to protect these communities that were harmed by the Trump administration’s reckless actions and decades of environmental injustice," he said.

The pipeline’s supporters, meanwhile, have argued that it will contribute to the nation’s energy supply and that it has already been through environmental reviews and approved.

"The letter ignores the fact that the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission addressed climate change in their decision granting Line 3 its Certificate of Need. They concluded that emissions from the ultimate consumption of oil transported on Line 3 do not result from the replaced pipeline, but instead from the continued demand for crude oil to produce refined products used by consumers," said Enbridge spokesperson Juli Kellner in an email.


"The project is already providing significant economic benefits in Minnesota for counties, small businesses, Native American communities, and union members," Kelner added.

The Justice Department under the Biden administration recently defended a Trump-era decision to approve a certain permit for the vessel.

“The Corps met its ... obligations by preparing Environmental Assessments (EA), which included consideration of the impacts from the Corps’ authorizations, including to wetlands, the climate, low-income and minority populations, Tribal rights to hunt, fish, and gather, and all of the issues to which Plaintiffs draw special attention,” it said in a court filing.  

The controversy is not over the entire pipeline, but a new segment the company is calling a replacement that’s being built along a new route. 

In their letter, the celebrities, many of whom campaigned for now-President Biden last year, compared the pipeline to the Keystone XL, which was officially scrapped last month after Biden revoked a key permit.


“If the principle established in the KXL decision applied only to one project, it would be no principle at all, and we could have no coherent or effective climate policy,” they wrote. 

Enbridge, meanwhile, has sought to distance itself from the Keystone project. 

"Unlike Keystone XL, Line 3 is an existing pipeline which has been operating since the 1960’s," Kelner said.

-Abigail Goldberg-Zelizer contributed to this report which was updated at 2:45 p.m.