Paul Koring and Kelly Cryderman write at the Globe and Mail:
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.
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