Lou Dematteis/Spectral Q, via Bold Nebraska
The crop art image with HEARTLAND #NoKXL protests the proposed Keystone XL pipeline on a corn field outside of Neligh, Nebraska

Open Crop Art Calls for Rejection of Keystone XL Pipeline

Simon Moya-Smith
4/15/14

It’s a message not from an alien species, but from opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Last week a crop-art image the size of 80 football fields was installed along the controversial pipeline’s proposed path in Neligh, Nebraska. The image includes the bust of a man in a cowboy hat and an American Indian in a porcupine roach with two feathers. Under the pair of heads is an illustration of water waves and the text, “HEARTLAND #NoKXL.”

The massive art installation, which was executed by artist John Quigley in partnership with the anti-Keystone XL Pipeline Cowboy and Indian Alliance, is meant to tell President Barack Obama to protect the heartland and reject the pipeline, according to Bold Nebraska, a coalition of groups and individuals opposing the project.

Opponents argue that it will contaminate drinking water and pollute the soil. Conversely, proponents state it will bring jobs to the U.S. The project has been controversial from the start, and now that the decision is down to the wire, the opposition is digging in even further.

“Jobs are not worth the risk of the future of our land,” Tessa McLean, Anishinaabe, a member of the Colorado American Indian Movement and an Idle No More activist, told Indian Country Today Media Network. “Even if the pipeline is safe, even if it never ever spills, it still takes the rights away from land owners. It goes through Indian country, and we don’t want anything going through our country without [our] consent. And Indians will never consent.”

RELATED: Can a Tipi Stop a Pipeline? South Dakota Tribes Stand Firm Against Keystone XL

The section of pipeline that still needs approval would cross the border from Canada, where the viscous bitumen originates in the Alberta oil sands, and cut through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas.

Ranchers, farmers and Native Americans who live on the pipeline route plan to descend on Washington, D.C. and camp near the White House beginning on April 22, which is Earth Day, to encourage the president’s support, according to the Cowboy and Indian Alliance website. On April 26, thousands of opponents are expected to join the campers and protest the pipeline.

Several camps are already installed along the pipeline route in Indian country. Descendants of the Ponca Tribe erected a camp in Nebraska in November. A second was established on the Rosebud Sioux reservation on March 29, and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe opened one on Saturday April 12.

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Jeff Meyer
Jeff Meyer
Submitted by Jeff Meyer on
Keystone is More Than Just a Pipeline By Jeffrey Meyer The Keystone pipeline proposal has hit a Nebraska stop sign, but it has deeper problems than right-of-way issues across the United States. After all, the controversial proposal for transporting Alberta’s tar sands across America was never just about the pipeline. Just ask the thousand students who rallied in front of the White House recently, who were willing to be arrested to make their point. Frustrated and angry over a lack of political action on climate change, our millennial generation is not tolerating an ineffectual Congress or president. This 18-34 year old group in the U.S. are 74 million strong and when the worst happens will suffer the most from climate change. With little representation in Congress, where the average age is 60, they are looking to civil disobedience as a strategy to create the political will to address this threat. This will happen not only in our nation’s capitol but on the streets of major cities across the nation. The fight over Keystone is really about a generational shift in our energy paradigm and how we will survive the 21st century. It concerns the wealth and jobs that the fossil fuels industry creates, how it has weaved itself into all of our lives and pulled us into a formidable dependency. Alberta is determined to mine its bitumen tar with or without Keystone, but the pipeline has morphed into a worldwide symbol of the struggle to confront climate change. With a growing foreboding, we are sensing our carbon lifestyle may be lethal to future generations and if they are to survive it is incumbent on us to accelerate efforts to develop other energy sources. From Washington, D.C. and Nebraska courts, this conflict now swings to Canada, where the Alberta government owns 81 percent of its oil sands and has a long list of investment partners. Besides multinational corporations, one of its biggest sources of investment capital for mining is China, our planet’s largest producer of greenhouse gases. Alberta looks to collect $1.2 trillion in royalties from its oil sands over the next 35 years, but has increasingly drawn the world’s attention because of the massive girth of pollution from the mining and burning of bitumen tar. Canada also faces a disenfranchised youth, who feel their voices and futures have been diminished by the enormous profits bitumen tar sands portend. They are joined by First Nations aboriginal tribes who share the same political paucity and frustration. Despite the economic benefits of bitumen tar mining on aboriginal lands, they see irreversible health and cultural damage if it continues. First Nations say the fossil fuel traders are in a sense the gun and whiskey peddlers of this new century. Right of way agreements, coupled with jobs, provide a better life in homes with central heating and Ford pickup trucks. It means a lot of money and it dramatically changes their way of life. It is a reminder of culture shifts that have harmed First Nations in the past and many Alberta Cree and Chipewyan people are now taking a grim view of tar sands mining. Studies are showing watershed contamination, people dying of unusual kinds of cancers, fish and other wildlife testing with numerous toxic chemicals, containment mining pond flooding and treaty rights being ignored. It is a seminal decision for First Nations to continue its relationship with Canadian oil interests and on a larger scale, analogous with our world’s factious accord on reducing the role of fossil fuels in our lives. The world’s climate scientists essentially agree that if left unchecked, anthropogenic CO2 will worsen extreme weather, raise sea levels and create mass extinctions from a profuse array of environmental changes. Many say that climate deniers are fed propagated ignorance by fossil fuel strategists as part of a misinformation campaign, creating a set of beliefs not easily changed. It creates a polarized electorate, leaving the issue to develop worst case scenarios before action is taken. In moderation, fossil fuel usage might not have posed a serious threat, but we have moved well past that threshold. Our burning of fossil fuels produces around 33.4 billion metric tons of CO2 per year and world energy needs are expected to rise about 40 percent over the next 20 years. CO2 has reached proportions in our atmosphere not seen for about 15 million years, when there was little land ice and the ocean was 100 feet higher. There is a way forward. In time, renewables can generate jobs lost in the fossil fuels industry and will sustain our lifestyles. We can consider Generation IV nuclear energy, reportedly much safer than existing technology. Some strategists look to a carbon fee and dividend system that can increase the viability of new renewable energy sources, as well as a carbon import tax on products from countries like China. As Keystone falters and tar sands mining provokes mounting protests, our nation is compelled to end political bickering and accede Millennials a more powerful voice on climate legislation. President Obama must grasp the significance of this moment, deny the Keystone permit and tell the world his decision has nothing to do with the pipeline and everything to do with leadership.
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