Archive for September, 2014
A strong, growing coalition of concerned citizens are uniting in opposition of the proposed Trans Canada Keystone XL Pipeline through the United States: Native Americans, Farmers, Ranchers, Unions (one at least), Environmentalists, Scientists, professionals, music lovers.
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Nearly 8,000 gathered near Neleigh, Nebraska, at concert headlined by Willie Nelson and Neil Young, to raise funds to support groups working to oppose the Trans Canada Keystone XL Pipeline from Canada, through US to Gulf Coast.
By Mitch Smith
NELIGH, Neb. — From the edge of a rye field teeming with grasshoppers, Willie Nelson and Neil Young sang on Saturday in opposition to the proposed Keystone XL project, warning through lyrics that a “company wants to build a tar sand pipeline where it don’t belong.”
The site of the concert — a patch of farmland where 26 acres of corn were harvested early to create a makeshift parking lot — was as unlikely as the coalition of Nebraskans who have united against Keystone XL and made this state the legal and emotional center of the pipeline opposition.
“I’ve told them, ‘You’ll have to haul me out from in front of that bulldozer, because I’m going to protect this farm,’ ” said Art Tanderup, who with his wife, Helen, hosted the concert. Their land in the rolling hills of northeast Nebraska would be directly along the pipeline route.
It has been six years since TransCanada, an energy company, first proposed this 1,179-mile crude-oil pipeline to southern Nebraska from Alberta. In that time, a group of Nebraska farmers, ranchers, Native Americans and city-dwelling environmentalists has held meeting after meeting to rally opposition to the pipeline and forge a delicate trust as it worked toward a common goal.
Activists have scored some successes. After they complained loudly about the initial route, which would have gone through the ecologically delicate Sandhills region, TransCanada agreed to shift the pipeline eastward.
Even with that change, the debate is far from settled. Leaders of the opposition movement now want the pipeline project scrapped altogether, citing concerns about TransCanada and fears that a spill would irreparably harm the Ogallala Aquifer, the underground water source used to irrigate cropland and supply taps across a wide portion of the heartland.
Because Keystone XL would cross an international border, President Obama will have the final say on whether it is built. He has put off his decision for years, most recently signaling that he would allow the State Department to continue studying the issue while awaiting a decision from the Nebraska Supreme Court.
This month, Nebraska’s top judges heard a group of landowners’ argumentschallenging the state’s approval process for the route. Their decision will determine whether Gov. Dave Heineman’s support of the route is sufficient to allow construction in Nebraska, or whether a five-member state commission must review the company’s application. The justices might not rule until after the midterm elections.
Mr. Heineman, a Republican, opposed the initial route through the Sandhills, but last year approved the revised path, saying it avoided sensitive lands and could be operated safely.
The years of delays, and the potential for yet more waiting, have frustrated TransCanada officials, who insist the project would be safe and an economic boon, with farmers among the beneficiaries.
“The need for Keystone XL hasn’t changed,” said Shawn Howard, a company spokesman. “Our customers continue to remain behind it. We need a decision and we need the politics behind it to stop.”
But Dave Domina, a lawyer who represented that group of Nebraska landowners before the State Supreme Court, said his clients had grown frustrated with TransCanada and were worried about the pipeline’s impact on future generations.
“I think what it says about Nebraskans is, first and foremost, don’t try pushing us around,” said Mr. Domina, who is also the state’s Democratic nominee for the United States Senate.
Of course, not all Nebraskans oppose Keystone XL. Plenty of landowners have signed agreements allowing TransCanada to build on their property, and many other residents have long been satisfied that the project is in the state’s interest.
Paul Landow, a political science professor at the University of Nebraska Omaha, said urban Nebraskans tend to favor pipeline construction while more residents of rural areas are opposed. Professor Landow said the coalition of opponents has presented its case smartly and, to a certain extent, been effective. Still, he said, the pipeline debate most likely will not be a deciding factor in statewide political contests.
At Saturday’s Harvest the Hope concert, where about 8,000 people turned off the gravel road to spend the afternoon at the Tanderup farm, many spoke emotionally and at length about their opposition to the pipeline and the problems they fear it portends.
Leaders of Native American tribes from Nebraska and South Dakota said they would take whatever steps necessary to protect their land. Landowners told reporters they feared the pipeline would tarnish the soil for their grandchildren. And Mr. Nelson and Mr. Young tied Keystone XL to the broader issues of climate change and corporate influence in politics. They urged Nebraskans to continue working to block the pipeline’s construction and protect the environment.
“I know it’s a great thing we’re doing,” Mr. Young said from the stage. “But even if we don’t win this round, we’re going to be even stronger next time.”
We fans love when Willie Nelson adds more shows!
Starting today, his website and on-line fan club will offer tickets and premium packages starts for these shows:
For information on how to get access before the public here: http://bit.ly/1gs5v6a
For more information why nearly 8,000 cowboys, Indians, farmers, ranchers, young, old citizens of the earth gathered Saturday at a farm in the sandhills of Nebraska, to express their objection to the proposed pipeline of tar sand oil from Alberta, Canada to the U. S. Gulf coast, visit: www.BoldNebraska.com. Visit the sight, and learn the truth, the dangers of this pipeline.
It was an effervescent sold-out crowd that packed The Ridgefield Playhouse for the 14th Anniversary Gala on September 17 to see Willie Nelson, up-close-and-personal with his Family band.
In an evening brimming with dinner courtesy of area food establishments, an open bar, silent and live auctions and honorees, it was the social event of the season.
Tony Award winner and Ridgefield resident Debbie Gravitte received the Arts Volunteer Award from Broadway star Harvey Fierstein, and Allison Stockel was honored for her 10th year volunteering her time as Executive Director of The Ridgefield Playhouse. The event also marked the establishment of The Allison Stockel Fund, to benefit the endowment of the not-for-profit performing arts center, with an initial amount of $250,000. The Fund was created to help sustain the Playhouse for the future. Checks may be made payable to The Ridgefield Playhouse for the benefit of The Allison Stockel Fund and sent to Julie Paltauf at the Playhouse.
The Ridgefield Playhouse is a not-for-profit performing arts center located at 80 East Ridge, parallel to Main Street, Ridgefield, CT; 203-438-5795, ridgefieldplayhouse.org.
“On July 7, 1988, I was 38….. seems like yesterday.
We teed off at 12:01 AM and played non stop until 10 PM (22 hours).
We played with glow balls till the sun came up.”
Thank you Budrock “The Illuminator” Prewitt, for sending along this story from the past. Check out his website for more of his unique collection:
Budrock is still home in Texas, recovering from a work-related accident last June. Here’s the latest.
photo: Dave Tunge
The “Harvest the Hope” concert featuring headliners Willie Nelson and Neil Young took place on Sept. 27, 2014 at the Tanderup farm near Neligh, NE.
Proceeds from the event will go to Bold Nebraska, the Indigenous Environmental Network, and the Cowboy & Indian Alliance, to fund the ongoing fight against the Keystone XL pipeline, and small, community-based clean energy projects on farms and tribal.
Neil Young, Willie Nelson, and friends, “This Land is Your Land” (Harvest the Hope Concert) (9/27/140Monday, September 29th, 2014
Thank you, Jenny from OK, for the video!
by: Joe Duggan
NELIGH, Neb. — Music legends Willie Nelson and Neil Young delivered Saturday on a promise to comfort opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline while also pleasing a few project supporters who ventured into a crowded Nebraska farm field.
A familiar duo in the Farm Aid series of benefit concerts, Nelson and Young teamed up to give a musical assist to pipeline fighters. They performed just one number together, incorporating a few anti-pipeline verses into the folk anthem “This Land Is Your Land.”
“That tar-sand oil ain’t good for drinking,” Young sang.
Even those who didn’t sing along as the chorus railed against new fossil fuel development and corporate influence said the concert offered an all-around good vibe.
Mike Nash of Omaha said it was easier for him to overlook politics that he doesn’t necessarily agree with when the politics come from two music icons in such a unique venue.
“Love the people here, love the show, everybody’s getting along,” he said as Nelson strummed the opening of “Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys.”
During a pre-concert press conference, Young said the fight over the Keystone XL pipeline symbolizes the larger choice that the world faces between fossil fuels and renewable energy. A native of Canada, Young, 68, urged the United States to take decisive action on climate change.
“America has a chance to stand up and lead the world like we used to,” Young said to a throng of reporters covering the event. “So we’re not just standing here complaining about problems, but finding solutions.”
Jane Kleeb, the lead organizer of the Harvest the Hope concert, said Nelson and Young helped the show sell 8,000 tickets at $50 each. The proceeds, after roughly $100,000 in expenses are deducted, will benefit three pipeline opponents: Bold Nebraska, the Indigenous Environmental Network and the Cowboy and Indian Alliance.
“These boots and moccasins are going to stop this pipeline,” said Kleeb, executive director of Bold Nebraska, an environmental advocacy group.
The day’s events brought together leaders from several of the seven bands of the Great Sioux Nation in South Dakota and the Ponca Nation of Oklahoma. The proposed path of the pipeline crosses historical tribal lands in South Dakota as well as the Ponca Trail of Tears in Nebraska, the path the Ponca people following during their forced march to Oklahoma’s Indian Territory.
Nelson, 81, suggested his participation in the event was motivated by his longstanding advocacy for farmers and his admiration for Native American people.
“We’re here for the farmers and ranchers, the cowboys and Indians,” he said. “And we’ve always been there. Thank you for coming out to help us help them.”
Sunny skies and a strong southerly breeze settled over the day as thousands made their way down a gravel road north of Neligh to the concert site in a farm field.
Art and Helen Tanderup, whose 160-acre farm lies on the path of the pipeline, hosted the event. The Tanderups are among roughly 100 Nebraska landowners who have refused to sign easement agreements with pipeline company TransCanada Corp. About 400 other Nebraska landowners have signed easements.
For six years, TransCanada has been seeking approval from the U.S. State Department to build a 36-inch-wide pipeline that would carry 830,000 barrels a day of mostly heavy Canadian oil to refineries on the Gulf Coast. The southern part of the project is done, so now the company wants to build a 1,200-mile stretch between western Canada’s oil sands region to Steele City, Nebraska.
President Barack Obama must approve the project because it crosses international borders. His administration has put the project on hold while the Nebraska Supreme Court reviews the legality of the state law used to route the pipeline. The court is not expected to issue an opinion until after November’s elections.
Pipeline supporters say it will provide well-paying construction jobs as it is built and property tax revenues to counties along the project’s path. And they say it will reduce America’s reliance on offshore oil by tapping into Canada’s vast oil reserves.
Opponents argue that a major spill would contaminate water in the continent’s largest underground aquifer and devastate private property. They also say mining and burning the heavy Canadian oil, known as bitumen, adds significantly to the greenhouse gases affecting global climate change.
“I think jobs are fine, but jobs are temporary. The environment is permanent,” said Susie Chandler, 66, a rancher who drove to Neligh from her home near the western Nebraska village of Keystone.
Michael Whatley of the pro-pipeline Consumer Energy Alliance said last week that Nelson and Young are hurting farmers with opposition to Keystone XL. Whatley said the transportation of oil by trains — oil that could be moved instead by the pipeline — contributes to rail congestion and blocks farmers from getting crops to market.
During the roughly 30-minute session with reporters before the show, Young and Nelson did not address the criticism.
Robert Johnston, an Antelope County landowner whose property also is crossed by the pipeline, said he backs the project. He said his support is tied to his use of petroleum products on his corn, soybean and alfalfa farm and the property tax benefits that the county would receive if the project were built.
Johnston didn’t plan to attend the show, but when his combine broke down while harvesting soybeans, he decided to head down to the Tanderup farm.
“I think it’s great, really,” he said. “What the heck. It’s just another example of the economic activity TransCanada has brought to Antelope County.”
The Tanderups harvested a good portion of their corn early to provide space for the concert and parking. Crews erected a stage in the corner of a plot of oats, and a stand of towering cottonwoods provided a sweeping backdrop for the stage and a jumbo screen.
Out in the field, people sat in bag chairs and on blankets. Some concertgoers sported cowboy hats, while others wore eagle feathers. Some danced in flip-flops while people next to them scooted in knee-high cowboy boots with jeans tucked inside. The audience ranged from infants to grandparents.
Performers such as Frank Waln, a Sicangu Lakota hip-hop artist from Rosebud, South Dakota, and Lukas and Micah Nelson, sons of Willie Nelson, warmed up the crowd.
Willie Nelson then took the stage and ran through most of his popular titles, such as “On the Road Again” and “You Are Always on My Mind.” He played for about 45 minutes.
Young’s set, which extended beyond an hour, included the well-known “Heart of Gold” and a new version of “Who’s Gonna Stand Up,” which he wrote about the Keystone XL pipeline.
With his guitar in hand and harmonica around his neck, Young urged Nebraskans not to give up. “This is never going to end, until we get it right.”
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Willie Nelson and Neil Young were honored at a private ceremony on Saturday, before the Harvest the Hope concert, near Neligh, Nebraska. Tribal presidents Scott, with the Rosebud Sioux and President Brewer, with the Oglala Sious, honored the two artists/humanitarians with a Buffalo Hide wrapping. Introductions were made by the Ponca Nation family.
Canadian singer/songwriter Neil Young and country music star Willie Nelson teamed up with anti-Keystone XL group Bold Nebraska for a fundraising concert called Harvest the Hope, to raise money and awareness of the fight against the Canadian oil pipeline.
photos by Matt Ryerson
photo: Mayy Ryerson
See more of Matt Ryerson’s great photos: