Aug 18 (Reuters) – Veteran musicians Willie Nelson and Neil Young are teaming up for a benefit concert in Nebraska to raise funds in the fight against land being sold for the Keystone XL oil pipeline project, charity organization Bold Nebraska said on Monday.
Nelson, 81, and Young, 68, both known for their ties to country rock and folk music and their environmental activism, will perform at the “Harvest the Hope Concert” on Sept. 27 at a farm near Neligh, Nebraska.
The farm is owned by Art and Helen Tanderup, who are campaigning against selling their land to TransCanada Corp to lay a pipeline that would carry crude oil from northern Alberta to refiners in Texas.
“Our family has worked this land for over 100 years. We will not allow TransCanada to come in here and destroy our land and water for their profit,” said Tanderup.
The concert is being hosted by Bold Nebraska along with Indigenous Environmental Network and Cowboy & Indian Alliance, comprising agricultural and tribal landowners who believe the pipeline will negatively impact the environment.
The Nebraska Supreme Court will hear arguments next month in a dispute over the planned 1,200-mile (1,900 km) planned route for the controversial $5.4 billion pipeline. A court ruling is not expected until 2015.
(Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy in Los Angeles; Editing by Leslie Adler)
Neil Young has announced four intimate benefit shows as part of a week-long Canadian mini-tour dubbed “Honor The Treaties” to assist the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) Legal Defence Fund.
The four-city tour will include special guest Diana Krall as well and commences at Toronto’s Massey Hall on Jan. 12. Additional dates include Winnipeg’s Centennial Concert Hall (Jan. 16), Regina’s Conexus Arts Centre (Jan. 17) and concluding at Calgary’s Jack Singer Concert Hall on Jan. 19. Tickets for all four benefit gigs go on sale tomorrow (Dec. 10). Ticket prices have yet to be announced. The Canadian dates follow four scheduled concert Young has at New York City’s Carnegie Hall starting Jan. 6.
The ACFN “challenges against oil companies and government that are obstructing their traditional lands and rights.” The announcement adds the legal challenges will ensure “the protection of their traditional lands, eco-systems and unique rights guaranteed by Treaty 8, the last and largest of the nineteenth century land agreements made between First Nations and the Government of Canada, are upheld for the benefit of future generations.”
According to the ACFN’s page, the treaty was the last but largest agreement between the two parties, encompassing more than 840,000 square kilometers. “From that point in time up to the present, the federal government has claimed that the Cree, Dene, Metis and other various First Nations peoples living within the Treaty 8 boundaries had surrendered any claim to title to all but the lands set aside as reserves.”
The tour comes following Young’s description earlier this year of Fort McMurray and neighboring oilsands projects in Alberta, comparing Fort McMurray to “Hiroshima.” “People are sick,” he said during a speech in Washington, D.C. “People are dying of cancer because of this. All the First Nations people up there are threatened by this.”
Earlier in 2013, a series of Idle No More benefit concerts took place in various Canadian cities raising awareness about the issues facing First Nations. Guitarist Derk Miller organized such a gig in Ottawa in January, 2013 while other concerts took place from coast to coast.
Also in early January, 2013 dozens of Canadian musicians penned a letter supporting the Idle No More movement. According to a Facebook post, the letter demanded “Canadians honour and fulfill indigenous sovereignty, repair violations against land and water, and live the intent and spirit of our Treaty relationship.”
The letter was signed by artists such as John K. Samson, Gord Downie, Feist, Sarah Harmer, Steven Page, The Sadies, Justin Rutledge, Blue Rodeo’s Greg Keelor Jim Cuddy and Broken Social Scene’s Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning among others.
Although initial reports indicated tickets go on sale Tuesday (Dec. 10), a Ticketmaster link to the Winnipeg concert says tickets for that particular show go on sale Friday (Dec. 13). The link for the Winnipeg show also indicates the price range is from $59.50 on the low end up to $260.25 on the high end. Meanwhile, the Massey Hall link for the Toronto concert says tickets (ranging from $95 to $250) go on sale Friday morning at 10:30am local time.
Video: Neil Young says Fort McMurray looks like ‘Hiroshima’
Paul Koring and Kelly Cryderman
WASHINGTON/CALGARY — The Globe and Mail
Sep. 10 2013
Canadian rocker Neil Young has waded into the bitter debate over Alberta’s vast oil sands and the controversial Keystone XL pipeline planned to funnel one million barrels a day of Canadian crude to huge refineries in Texas and Louisiana.
Mr. Young said in a news conference on Monday that oil sands extraction was killing native peoples, igniting a new firestorm in the ongoing battle between proponents who want the massive reserves extracted and an array of opponents who argue that burning the carbon-heavy crude will seriously exacerbate global warming that threatens the planet.
“The fact is, Fort McMurray looks like Hiroshima,” Mr. Young said in Washington. “Fort McMurray is a wasteland. The Indians up there and the native peoples are dying.”
Keystone opponents were quick to cheer Mr. Young’s blunt intervention.
Sierra Club spokesman Eddie Scher said: “Neil Young has been expressing and exposing hard truths his whole career,” adding: “Looks like he’s at it again.”
Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver – who was in Washington himself on the same day for a meeting with U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, took a different view.
“I am a big fan of Neil Young’s music,” Mr. Oliver told the Globe. “But on this matter we disagree because Keystone XL will displace heavy oil from Venezuela which has the same or higher greenhouse gas emissions, with a stable and secure source of Canadian oil.”
The singer is among a growing number of well-known activists speaking out against Keystone XL “Neil Young is speaking for all of us fighting to stop the Keystone XL,” said Jane Kleeb, Executive Director of Bold Nebraska, a coalition of landowners and others opposed to the $5.3-billion Keystone XL pipeline. “When you see the pollution already caused by the reckless expansion of tar sands, you only have one choice and that is to act.”
Mr. Young, one of Canada’s best-known singer-songwriters since the 1960s, told a conference in Washington Monday that he recently travelled to Alberta, where “much of the oil comes from, much of the oil that we’re using here, which they call ethical oil because it’s not from Saudi Arabia or some country that may be at war with us.”
As for Keystone, Mr. Young lampooned claims that it would create lots of jobs.
“Yeah it’s going to put a lot of people to work, I’ve heard that, and I’ve seen a lot of people that would dig a hole that’s so deep that they couldn’t get out of it, and that’s a job too, and I think that’s the jobs that we are talking about there with the Keystone pipeline,” he said.
He spoke at the U.S. National Farmers Union conference in Washington, intended to support alternative fuels, such as ethanol, which he did at length, slamming Big Oil and talking about his own LincVolt, an old Continental that runs on ethanol and electricity.
Young said he drove the 1959 Lincoln, which runs on ethanol and electricity, to Fort McMurray while traversing the continent from his California home to Washington over the last two and half weeks.
At the same time, Canada’s Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver was making the latest in a long series of lobbying visits by ministers and premiers intended to sway President Barack Obama to approve the long-delayed pipeline.
Ms. Kleeb wasn’t impressed. “Prime Minister Harper can write all the memos he wants, Joe Oliver can say anything but the reality is people are dying and the alliance between cowboys and Indians is stronger than any K Street lobbyists Canada hires.”
All Risk, No Rewards, another group opposed to Keystone XL also echoed Mr. Young’s comments.
“Canada’s First Nations know all too well the risks of Keystone XL and the risks of expanding the tar sands,” said Rachel Wolf, a spokeswoman for the group. Ranchers in Nebraska and First Nations peoples in Canada have more in common than one might think: they’re ‘Ordinary People’ who share a common goal to protect their land and protect their water, and they both know that these tar sands expansion projects are all risk and no reward.”
Mr. Young described his recent visit graphically. “The fuel’s all over – the fumes everywhere – you can smell it when you get to town. The closest place to Fort McMurray that is doing the tar sands work is 25 or 30 miles out of town and you can taste it when you get to Fort McMurray. People are sick. People are dying of cancer because of this. All the First Nations people up there are threatened by this.”
Mr. Young’s comments don’t sit well with Fort McMurray’s mayor, who called them “blatantly false.”
Melissa Blake, mayor of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, which includes Fort McMurray, said she has no problem with people having environmental interests at heart.
But she said Fort McMurray is totally different from Mr. Young’s characterization. With his power in the music industry, she’s disappointed “there wasn’t more rationality to it.”
“When people say it’s a wasteland, it really and truly isn’t,” Ms. Blake said. “When it comes to the community of Fort McMurray, you’re overwhelmed frankly by the beauty of it. You’ve got an incredible boreal environment that’s all around you. You proceed further north into the oil sands and inevitably, there’s mining operations that will draw your attention because they take up large chunks of land.”
The mayor said she always invites outsiders to the region to see the landscape, and to see oil sands companies’ reclamation efforts.
Danielle Droitsch, director of the National Resources Defense Council, said “Seeing tar sands development up close is shocking” adding “these are massive operations and industry hopes to triple its production over the next 20 years.”
Blocking Keystone XL will thwart expansion of oil sands production, according to the NRDC, but Mr. Oliver says Canada will just export its reserves elsewhere.
With files from Steven Chase and The Canadian Press