No, the American Public Doesn’t Care What Willie Nelson and Neil Young Have To Say on Keystone XL

–       Willie Nelson and Neil Young, part of a long contingent of anti-Keystone XL eco-celebrities, will perform in a concert to benefit Bold Nebraska this weekend.

–       Meanwhile Keystone XL enjoys overwhelming support across the country as families are hoping for the jobs, energy security and economic benefits the pipeline would create.

–       Keystone XL opponents are, as Byron York put it in a column today, “a small group isolated in a distant corner of public opinion.”

Willie Nelson and Neil Young are heading to Nebraska to perform at an anti-Keystone XL, anti-fossil fuels concert on Saturday called “Harvest the Hope.” But as the concert nears, the facts remain the same: Keystone XL enjoys vast support across the country as families are hoping for the jobs, energy security and economic benefits the pipeline would create.

The proceeds of the concert will go to benefit Bold Nebraska, a group with strong financial ties to national anti-fossil organizations. Nelson and Young, of course, are part of a long contingent of anti-Keystone XL eco-celebrities that include the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Daryl Hannah and Robert Redford.

And while celebrity activists may draw big crowds and raise money, they certainly don’t have much impact on public opinion. But that’s not surprising considering that most are seen as eco-hypocrites as they jet across the globe in private planes. But on Keystone XL in particular, they are part of a fringe but vocal minority. Today Americans are overwhelmingly saying yes to Keystone XL because it’s a shovel ready project that will provide thousands of jobs and increase energy security, all while having a minimal impact on the environment.

Look no further than the campaign trail to see the difference between eco-activism versus public opinion. As we head toward the midterm elections, Democrats and Republicans running in competitive races overwhelmingly support the pipeline:

  • A recent campaign ad for Mary Landrieu (D-LA) features a Louisiana couple who says they’re “with Mary” because she is fighting for the Keystone XL pipeline and “good paying jobs with good benefits.”
  • Even the anti-Keystone XL group, the League of Conservation Voters, is endorsing pro-Keystone XL candidates like Michelle Nunn, a Democrat from Georgia running for U.S. Senate. Nunn even featured Keystone XL in a recent ad where she went after her own party, saying, “too many Democrats play politics by dragging their feet on the Keystone Pipeline.”
  • In Kentucky, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes told the AP, “The administration should rule now and approve the project. Putting Americans back to work in good-paying jobs that strengthen the middle class is my top priority and it should be the federal government’s as well.”
  • In Arkansas, as the Arkansas News reports, the two competing Senate candidates actually appeared together at an event to “protest ongoing delays to the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline”

None of this should be surprising considering that one of the latest polls found support for Keystone XL to be “almost universal.” And contrary to what opponents would say, the “people in the path” of Keystone XL overwhelmingly support the pipeline. In fact according to a recent Pew poll, 69 percent of people in Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas want the pipeline to be built while only 28 percent are opposed.

Byron York of the Washington Examiner broke down the numbers in his column today, explaining,

“Only the group labeled ‘solid liberals,’ the most doctrinaire of those on the Left, opposed the pipeline, 57 percent [to] 30 percent. Although they are passionate about their views, they are in a distinct minority; according to Pew, ‘solid liberals’ make up just 17 percent of all registered voters.

So the Obama administration has solidly aligned itself with the 17 percent against the other 83 percent. Perhaps that’s a sustainable position for a president who won’t face voters again. It’s a tougher job for Democrats running for office in an already-tough year.”

York went on to say, “When it comes to the Keystone pipeline, the marchers are a small group isolated in a distant corner of public opinion.”

Just how isolated are they? As one new song by Neil Young shows, this concert isn’t just about Keystone XL but about banning fossil fuels altogether. Here’s exactly that the singer envisions in his song:

“Ban fossil fuel, draw the line

Before we build, one more pipeline

Ban fracking now, save the waters

And build a life, for our sons and daughters”

Even John Podesta, President Obama’s climate advisor and the former president of the Center for American Progress (CAP), has said that the notion of just stopping the use of fossil fuels is “completely impractical.” As he explained earlier this year,

“With all due respect to my friends in the environmental community, if they expect us to turn off the lights and go home, that’s sort of an impractical suggestion,” he added.

Neil Young may sing the song but does he walk the walk? As the Calgary Herald recently reported,

“While Neil Young spoke to a Calgary news conference at the Jack Singer Concert Hall prior to his Sunday night show, five rock star-style motorhomes were left running outside, spewing fumes into the Calgary air, even though they were mostly unoccupied.”

And what about this travel habits? As Young explained,

“Sometimes to play my shows I have to use them (private jets) to get from one place to another to do my job and be in good enough shape to do my job when I get there,” explained Young.

While anti-Keystone XL activists pull their latest “Harvest the Hope” stunt, the truth is that the prospect of the Keystone XL pipeline has brought a lot of hope to Americans for new jobs, economic growth and energy security. Meanwhile anti-Keystone XL activists can enjoy their status as “a small group isolated in a distant corner of public opinion.”

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