Neil Young’s latest sour note over proposed Keystone XL pipeline

WINNIPEG – Rocker Neil Young took aim at the proposed Keystone XL pipeline Thursday on his concert tour condemning the Alberta oilsands, while energy executives, politicians and even a fellow musician shot back that he is irresponsible and uninformed.

Young told a news conference ahead of his Winnipeg concert that the TransCanada pipeline, which would carry oilsands bitumen from Alberta to Texas refineries, makes no sense since the oil would be sent to China — a country he called one of the dirtiest on Earth.

“People don’t understand this oil is not for Canada,” Young said. “A couple of months ago, Beijing had 30 times the World Health Organization’s approved level of pollutants and dangerous substances in the air — 30 times that — and we’re sending them oil.

“I don’t feel really good about that.”

TransCanada (TSX:TRP) quickly replied that the pipeline would be a supply line for U.S. refineries and not an export pipeline. Company spokesman Shawn Howard said the vast majority of exported oilsands oil is used in gasoline, diesel fuel and other North American products.

“It’s unfortunate that people like Mr. Young want to mislead people about where Canadian oil goes and the benefits it creates,” he said in an emailed statement.

“It has helped him create records and CDs, allows his tour buses to run, airplanes to fly, (allows) the manufacturing of high-tech equipment and guitar picks needed to entertain his audiences.”

Young is on a four-city Canadian tour to support the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation that lives downstream from the oilsands. The band has filed a lawsuit to try to protect its traditional territory from further industrialization.

Since he kicked off the tour in Toronto on Sunday, the iconic musician has traded shots with the Prime Minister’s Office and oil executives who say Young doesn’t understand the oilsands or their economic benefit.

Even fellow Canadian musician Jim Cuddy from Blue Rodeo called Young’s comparison of the oilsands with Hiroshima extreme.

“He’s grossly exaggerating,” Cuddy told Saskatchewan-based Missinipi Broadcasting Corp. “Nobody can say that any kind of open-pit mining — whether it’s oil, shale or whatever — is beautiful,” he said.

“I’m not sure this is about esthetics. It’s about clean water, clean air and economics.”

However, Cuddy, who was to play a concert in Fort McMurray on Thursday night, also suggested that Young has triggered a national discussion about the oilsands that is long overdue.

“You have to appreciate that Neil in his own extreme, crazy way has begun a dialogue that we have to have in this country.”

Young continued his offensive undeterred Thursday.

“We can preserve what we have so that we can say we did the right thing. If we don’t, it’s just going to look like the moon in Alberta,” he said. “It is like a war zone, a disaster area from war, what’s happened up there.”

Both the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers and Shell Canada held a news conference in Calgary to rebut Young’s claims. It is the approval Shell has received for its Jackpinemine expansion that the Athabasca Chipewyan are fighting.

Association president Dave Collyer said Young’s statements “demonstrate pretty consistently a lack of understanding of the oilsands” and the economic benefits.

“I think it’s fair to say the misrepresentations being made on the tour are quite irresponsible,” he said. “More importantly, they do a disservice to the First Nations he is ostensibly trying to help, to the many individuals whose livelihoods depend on oilsands activity and … to Canadians who we believe generally benefit very greatly from oilsands development.”

Collyer said Young is entitled to his opinion.

“I would suggest that he has a democratic right to be wrong.”

Collyer added he’d be pleased to meet with Young and Athabasca Chipewyan Chief Allan Adam when they come to Calgary on Sunday for the final stop of the “Honour the Treaties” tour.

Shell vice-president Stephanie Sterling said the world may one day rely solely on renewable fuel sources, but for now oil provides an “affordable” and “accessible” energy source.

“In our experience, the aboriginal peoples want to build sustaining economic communities while they protect their traditional land and the environment,” she said.

Adam said First Nations aren’t opposed to economic development. But the federal government is bound by treaty to properly consult aboriginal people and use natural resources responsibly.

“We are totally for economic development for our future generations to come but we want to do it in a reasonable way,” Adam said. “Our treaties are being broken, in more ways than one.”

— With files from Lauren Krugel in Calgary




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Neil Young’s latest sour note over proposed Keystone XL pipeline

  1. alberta -lol.
    “…TransCanada pipeline, which would carry oilsands bitumen from Alberta to Texas refineries, makes no sense…”
    “..TransCanada…Company spokesman Shawn Howard said the vast majority of exported
    oilsands oil is used in gasoline, diesel fuel and other North American
    products….”

    There ya go kiddies, just as many have already warned.
    Sooooo, instead of “refineing” a lot of the raw crude ourselves into, gasoline, diesel, jet fuel,… whatever, and THEN selling/exporting for much greater profits to US, China,… and most of all, having it “cheaper” at the pumps,…, for ALL Canadians, we’re letting this idiotic Gov’t screw us.
    How? -partly due to Mulrooney’s -> Harpo’s poisonous free-trade agreements.
    So the States refine it, and then we have to import it back into Canada as gasoline,…, the gov’t makes some double profits here, taxing the crap outt of us, and we all end up paying much more that we should at the pumps,…, it’s just an “XL”, wasteful, vicious circle,

    Alleast if we were to “refine” it all ourselves it would have benefited ALL canadians, from business right on down, …, in technology, + many, many more continuous jobs, which in turn goes back into our economy, and the gov’t still gets it’s TAX. -but NO.

    This is definitely NOT rocket-science. It’s simple basic accounting principles, except in this case -just like our retarded Harpo and his CONS, -they’ve ALL moved down South.

    In other words, if you need investment advice, ask Harper ? -indeed. :(
    http://www2.macleans.ca/2014/01/16/need-investment-advice-ask-harper/
    Wait a go, dummies.

    • Except who is going to pay for the refinement?

      The reason it isn’t being refined in Canada at the moment is because there is no money in it. Are you expecting Canadians to invest in a business that doesn’t make money?

      Perhaps you could go ask the Albertan Government how they feel about having to fork over 3 billion dollars to finish the upgrader they said they would back.

      So by all means, if you want Canadians to refine all their own Oil you should being telling them how much it is going to cost them.

      • If there’s no money in it, then why is US, and everyone else “refining” it for us?
        Alberta could have easily swung that deal (for the “upgrader”, as you call it)with the help of Shell,…, as one of the requirements of extraction, which would help greatly offset the cost of those upgraders.
        This is simply very stoopid Canadian “Politicians” giving into the giant “foreign” Oil corporations, and the bigger “foreign” gov’ts, ’cause Harpo and Alberta doen’t know any better, and if they did, they would.
        Those Oil Corps would not have said NO, because they would NOT have had a choice.
        Your point is moot.

  2. “TransCanada (TSX:TRP) quickly replied that the pipeline would be a supply line for U.S. refineries and not an export pipeline. Company spokesman Shawn Howard said the vast majority of exported oilsands oil is used in gasoline, diesel fuel and other North American products.”

    I expect Neil to get a few details wrong; he’s an artist, he’s speaking from the heart. I’m far less impressed when industry flunkies and spokesmen who accuse others of misrepresentation turn around and flat out lie.
    It’s true the oil we currently send to the states gets refined for domestic consumption. ( we supply something like a half of their imports) But what Neil is getting at here is where will all the added production go once keystone is built? Only the naive believe it will stay in the US ( where domestic production is rapidly growing) basic economic logic indicates that once it has been up graded on the Gulf coast it will be exported. A careful reading of CAPP remarks indicate they are conflating exports to the US with export potential. The question is, why would they do that?
    http://www.pembina.org/pub/2407

  3. Why are we expanding the oil sands even more – wetlands should not be inc. in any new oil sands experiments or expansion. Do the oil producers not know they are the kidneys of the land and that they should be protected. Do we not have enough oil now for our own use and not for ever allowing big business to push us to further their own profits. I am glad that our celebrated Canadian singer has made the public aware of the downward path we are taking. Think of your grandchildren and what we may be leaving them and future generations if we continue with all this expansion.

    • [Edit]
      The “wetlands” are the kidneys of the land,…
      sure, u’re right.

  4. There is enough going on now with just steam extraction. No approvals of tar mining should happen now. Anyway it’s probably not ecomomical to open pit mine the stuff and less than $100 per bbl

  5. In Regina on Jan 17, Young said while addressing the audience ” if the pipelines go through and treaties are broken, there will be bloodshed”, but would not elaborate. I do not support threats of bloodshed.

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