Legendary rocker Neil Young, born in Toronto, recently went on a tour in Canada aiming to support the rights of First Nations when it comes to tar sands development. Needless to say, First Nations citizens are being almost completely ignored and greatly harmed by reckless development of the tar sands. Young asserted that Canadian officials were “killing” First Nations, compared the ramifications from tar sands development to the bomb dropped on Hiroshima during World War II, and pushed for the Canadian government to honor its treaties with First Nations — the tour was called “Honour the Treaties.”
“People don’t realize what [the tar sands] looks like,” Young told reporters. “It’s worse than anything you can imagine … It’s the greediest, most destructive and disrespectful demonstration of something run amok that you can ever see.”
“The oil sands projects are among the very dirtiest on earth,” he added in subsequent days as he and the Canadian Prime Minister’s office exchanged words in the press. “Per day, the oils sands operations produce as much CO2 as all the cars in Canada.”
Getting back to the issue of treaties with First Nations. “We made a deal with these people. We are breaking our promise … The blood of these people will be on modern Canada’s hands.”
In the Huffington Post climate and energy campaigner Mike Hudema ran down an excellent list of “10 Reasons Neil Young is Right About the Tar Sands.” The whole list is worth a look, so I’m resharing it here:
- The Beaver Lake Cree have recorded more than 20,000 treaty rights violations on their traditional territory due to tar sands development.
- Canada ranked dead last in OECD countries this year when it comes to environmental protection.
- In order to avoid runaway climate change, UN Climate chief Christiana Figueres once again stated bluntly, “Two-thirds of the fossil fuels we have will have to stay in the ground.” That means many tar sands projects can never be built if our world is going to have a chance.
- According to the Harper government’s own numbers emissions from the tar sands are set to quadruple.
- Alberta, home to the tar sands, has disturbed the natural landscape more than any other province is Canada.
- A new study shows that when mixed with sediment bitumen sinks in salt water making a tanker spill almost impossible to clean up.
- Over 130 First Nations have signed the ‘Save the Fraser‘ declaration opposing tar sands development on their traditional territory.
- The oil industry literally re-wrote Canada’s environmental laws.
- Alberta enforces less than 1% of tar sands environmental violations.
- After 8-months four CNRL tar sands spills are still spilling. This is supposed to be the environmentally friendly form of tar sands development.
Hudema’s closing comment was: “At the end of the day, I’ve heard more truth from Neil Young on the tar sands than I ever have from the Prime Minister.”