The open letter, published by NBC News on Wednesday, was signed by actors and comedians including Leonardo DiCaprio, Katy Perry, Joaquin Phoenix, Orlando Bloom, Danny Glover, Jane Fonda, Amy Schumer, Sarah Silverman and Mark Ruffalo.
Songwriters including Bon Iver, Buffy Sainte-Marie and Bonnie Raitt, along with former Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer, tribal activists, and environmentalists, also added their names.
The letter, addressed to President Biden, begins: “Your presidency is a watershed in human history, the last chance to turn the tide before climate disruption spirals out of control.”
It goes on to say: “We worked hard for your election in part because you embraced that challenge as a defining strength of your candidacy” – before noting that Mr Biden signaled his “resolve” by rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline (KXL) on his first day in office. The KXL project was canceled last month.
The letter notes that Line 3 – energy giant Enbridge’s cross-border project to bring Canadian tar sands oil and crude from the province of Alberta to Wisconsin – “violates the rights and life ways of the Anishinaabe people ... including critical areas for hunting, fishing, harvesting wild rice, and cultural resources...”
It continues: “This pipeline is virtually identical to KXL in both substantive climate impact and symbolic importance. 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.”
The new Line 3, approved by former President Donald Trump, would carry an average of 760,000 barrels of oil per day through bodies of water and tribal lands.
Last month, the Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld approval of the Canadian company’s project, saying it could begin work on the 337-mile segment to replace a 1960s-era pipeline that has deteriorated and can run at only half capacity. Enbridge says the new line will better protect the environment while upping capacity.
Large protests, led by the Anishinaabe peoples, have taken place in recent months in northern Minnesota. Thousands have come to join them, including celebrities like Ms Fonda, to try to convince the Biden administration to intervene. Hundreds of people have been arrested.
The Biden administration hasn’t taken a clear position on Line 3, but a legal challenge is pending in federal court on a wetlands permit that activists say should be withdrawn.
The celebrity-led letter closes with a plea to the president to “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”.
It concludes: “Science, justice, and the boundless American capacity to tackle big challenges are on our side. Time is not.”