It’s not enough for the entertainment industry to celebrate the cancelling of the Keystone XL Pipeline by President Joe Biden, which resulted in 1,000 middle class, mostly union workers losing their jobs and another 10,000 jobs foregone. Now, dozens of wealthy actors and film industry folk have joined other climate activists as signatories to a letter sent earlier this month to urge the president to “immediately shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline.” Doing so will eliminate thousands more middle class jobs and raise energy prices further.

The Dakota Access Pipeline runs from North Dakota’s energy-rich Bakken shale region to Illinois, where it connects to other energy pipelines. The Standing Rock Sioux Indian Tribe sued to shut down the pipeline since it runs underneath its land. Last March, a federal judge ruled the pipeline lacked sufficient permitting on the part of the project that crosses Lake Oahe in South Dakota and ordered a more comprehensive environmental impact study of that section.  Last month, a U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s narrow ruling, but  allowed the pipeline to continue operating.

The Dakota Pipeline had been operating for more than three years without incident. No spills and no problems transporting nearly 600,000 barrels of domestic oil on a daily basis to consumers.

Signatories to the letter to President Biden demanding closure of the Dakota Pipeline include many familiar and less familiar (to me, anyway) names from the entertainment world, including Amy Schumer “Performer,” Alyssa Milano “Actor, Producer, Activist,” Cher “Artist,” Chelsea Handler (unfunny) “Comedian,” Cyndi Lauper “Musician” (though I’m not sure what’s she done in the last 35 years), and many more; plus Green activists from groups such as “,” “The Peoples Justice Council” (whatever that is), the Sierra Club, and a group named “ClimateMama,” among many others.

No Green activist letter would be complete without sign-on by Jane Fonda “Actor, Activist, Fire Drill Fridays,” and Leonardo DiCaprio “Actor,” which they did.

There also is a signer from the “Fairbanks Climate Action Coalition,” which made me curious. Is global warming affecting Fairbanks, Alaska? The last I checked, the morning temperature there was minus-6 degrees Fahrenheit with “current air quality” labeled as “excellent;” then rising to 9 degrees and sunny by afternoon, dropping to minus-12 overnight. Indeed, climate–or the weather, at least–is changing rapidly in Alaska, rising 15 degrees before swinging back 21 degrees, all within a 24-hour period.

But I digress.

Shutting down the Dakota Pipeline would cost these signatories essentially nothing. Their jobs are not at risk, and they can afford to pay a lot more for the higher-priced energy that would result.

Overlooked—deliberately—in the “celebrities” letter is that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had done extensive environmental assessments on water crossings and federal lands, which is why the Pipeline has been operating safely. The court rulings involved a small area of the project for which the agency must complete an environmental review.

The signatories to the letter also cannot eschew being divisive by implying racism as the backdrop to the Pipeline’s development.  The letter claims its path was shifted away from Bismarck, North Dakota, a city, they write, with “90% white inhabitants.”

No disrespect is meant for the Sioux tribes, which do not want a pipeline running under their ancestral lands. But I suspect Ms. Fonda, Cher, DiCaprio, care less about Native Americans or some esoteric “justice,” which are convenient issues to exploit. Rather, they simply hate fossil fuels, which they falsely believe are warming the planet inexorably to a boiling point.

It is ironic when you consider the workers who are being sacrificed by the Hollywood Greens produce and transport the energy that enables Americans to fuel their cars, heat their homes, and provide nearly every other convenience. Many of the actors and artists who signed this letter especially are the beneficiaries of fossil fuel, which they consume in much greater volume to support their wealthy lifestyles and power their pricey movie productions. One of countless examples: it cost more than one-half billion dollars to make the three “Iron Man” films starring Robert Downey, Jr., one of the signatories to the letter. A lot of energy went into blowing up and destroying things in those films.

The federal courts have given the Biden administration an opening on one section of the pipeline to shut the whole thing down, and the Green extremists and their fellow travelers in Hollywood are pouncing on the opportunity. The president already did their bidding by shutting down Keystone and throwing people out of work, but it is never enough; climate activists always want more and Dakota remains in their crosshairs.

If President Biden—who incessantly invoked his working class roots in Scranton, Pennsylvania throughout his career—sides with wealthy “actors” and “artists” to shut down the Dakota Pipeline, everyone else loses. This is especially true for average- and lower-income Americans about whom politicians and elites so often pretend to care. This letter is a salient reminder they do not.


  • Peter Murphy is Senior Fellow at CFACT. He has researched and advocated for a variety of policy issues, including education reform and fiscal policy, both in the non-profit sector and in government in the administration of former New York Governor George Pataki. He previously wrote and edited The Chalkboard weblog for the NY Charter Schools Association, and has been published in numerous media outlets, including The Hill, New York Post, Washington Times and the Wall Street Journal. Twitter: @PeterMurphy26 Website: