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February 8, 2021 – A broad coalition of Native-led groups, environmental organizations, and influencers released a letter calling on President Biden and Vice President Harris to stand with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and shut down the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL) following the Jan. 27 court ruling that the pipeline is operating illegally without the necessary federal permits. 
 
The movement to stop the Dakota Access pipeline has been one of the most high-profile Indigenous rights and climate justice issues. It was halted by President Obama and then fast-tracked by President Trump in 2017. Now a federal judge has asked the Biden Administration’s Army Corps of Engineers to appear in court on Wednesday, Feb. 10 and make a decision whether Biden’s Administration will shut down the pipeline while the court-ordered environmental review is conducted. This letter is being sent in conjunction with a 93-mile relay run being led by Standing Rock youth to put pressure on President Biden to take action. The run is happening on Tuesday, February 9th and crosses the entire Standing Rock Sioux Nation and ends at the historic Oceti Sakowin Camp, site of the 2016 #NoDAPL resistance. 
 
The letter is signed by leading indigenous and environmental organizations including the Indigenous Environmental Network, Sunrise Movement, Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, NDN Collective, IllumiNative as well as a number of notable influencers including Green Bay Packers’ Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the cast of the Avengers including Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Don Cheadle, Chris Hemsworth, musicians including Cher, Cyndi Lauper, and Dave Matthews as well as a host of prominent actors and filmmakers including Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Alyssa Milano, Amy Schumer, Ed Helms, Jane Fonda, Chelsea Handler, Joaquin Phoenix, Marisa Tomei, Ava DuVernay, Jason Momoa, Jennifer Connelly, Orlando Bloom, Paul Bettany, Piper Perabo, Rooney Mara, Ryan Reynolds, Sarah Silverman, Shailene Woodley, Todd Haynes, Uzo Aduba and others.
 
The issue presents an early test for the Biden Administration on both Indigenous rights and climate justice. This comes shortly after President Biden stopped the Keystone XL pipeline and has made a number of historic climate appointments in the White House and nominated the first Native American to serve in the President’s Cabinet with Rep. Deb Haaland for the Department of Interior.

The letter to President Biden and Vice President Harris states, “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.”
 
Additionally, the letter calls for the U.S. Army Corps to ensure a robust environmental review is undertaken with significant Tribal consultation, Tribal consent, and a thorough risk analysis. Many organizations and experts have raised serious environmental harms from the pipeline that should have been examined in a thorough environmental review.

Background
 
Over 4 years ago, people from across the country and around the world joined together to stop the pipeline in what became one of the biggest global movements to protect Tribal sovereignty and stop unjust fossil fuel infrastructure. The pipeline had originally been slated to cross the Missouri River north of Bismarck, ND, yet the risk of an oil spill on the city’s 90% white inhabitants was deemed too great. The new crossing site shifted the risk to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, in a location of key religious and cultural importance to the Tribe, including the burial grounds of their ancestors.
 
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe sued the federal government in 2016 and after four years of litigation, in March 2020 the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia found that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers violated the National Environmental Policy Act by failing to consider several critical issues and ignoring key evidence submitted by the Tribe. The Court ordered the U.S. Army Corps to prepare an environmental impact statement. After an appeal, on January 27th of this year, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the pipeline is operating illegally. The U.S. District Judge set a hearing on February 10th to discuss the final ruling and whether the Biden Administration will shut down the pipeline or allow it to operate illegally without a permit.

Established in 1990, The Indigenous Environmental Network is an international environmental justice nonprofit that works with tribal grassroots organizations to build the capacity of Indigenous communities. I EN’s activities include empowering Indigenous communities and tribal governments to develop mechanisms to protect our sacred sites, land, water, air, natural resources, the health of both our people and all living things, and to build economically sustainable communities. www.ienearth.org