Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders released a statement vowing to continue fighting the pipeline projects and to "protect our planet for future generations"
Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty

President Donald Trump signed executive actions on Tuesday to advance the controversial Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines, sparking a swift backlash from Democrats, celebrities and environmental activists who have fiercely opposed the projects, including Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Trump’s move makes good on his campaign pledge to approve the Keystone XL pipeline project, which would transport crude oil from Canada’s tar sands to the Gulf of Mexico — and which was rejected by former President Barack Obama in 2015.

The Dakota Access pipeline, which would run 1,100-miles from North Dakota to Illinois, has also been harshly criticized by environmental advocates who say that both projects would lead to severe damage to the fragile ecosystem in their paths and to more reliance on fossil fuels.

The Dakota Access project has also been vehemently protested by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and its allies — including actress Shailene Woodley, who was arrested there in October. They argue the pipeline would damage cultural sites and could put the community at risk should the pipeline leak and contaminate the Missouri River, in addition to other disastrous environmental consequences.

Many took to Twitter to protest Trump’s decision, including former Democratic hopeful Sanders, who has been a vocal opponent of the projects. He charged: “President Trump ignored the voices of millions and put the short-term profits of the fossil fuel industry ahead of the future of our planet.”


Actress and activist Mia Farrow retweeted Sanders and also urged followers to call their representatives to protest the pipelines:

Sen. Sanders also released a full statement on Tuesday vowing to continue fighting the projects and to “protect our planet for future generations.”

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“At a time when the scientific community is virtually unanimous in telling us that climate change is real, it is caused by human activity and it is already causing devastating problems, we cannot afford to build new oil pipelines that lock us into burning fossil fuels for years to come. I will do everything I can to stop these pipelines and protect our planet for future generations,” Sanders charged.

Woodley, Mark Ruffalo, Jane Fonda and Leonardo DiCaprio are among the celebrities who have protested and spoken out against the pipelines in the past and in the days leading up to Trump’s signing of the executive orders to advance the projects.

Woodley was arrested on Oct. 10 while participating in a protest against the construction of the pipeline in Bismarck, North Dakota. The 25-year-old actress, who streamed her arrest via Facebook Live, was charged with criminal trespassing and engaging in a riot, and later pleaded not guilty.

The Divergent actress later published an essay about her arrest in Time, describing the importance of protesting peacefully and raising awareness for environmental and social causes.

“The Dakota Access Pipeline, my friends, is not another time to ignore, mistreat and turn a blind eye to Native Americans,” she wrote at the time.

On Monday, Woodley and other Dakota Access Pipeline protesters marched through the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, to urge Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute to cut ties to festival sponsor Chase Bank over its funding of the project, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“There is a hypocrisy in talking about indigenous cultures but not doing anything, as a non-native ally, to stand with them,” Woodley said in a live video from the protest that was posted to her Facebook page.