It's spring, and that means planting corn and soybeans in Nebraska.
But Art Tanderup has something else on 15 acres of his land near Neligh: a massive re-creation of the presidential seal, with a message to President Obama.
Inside the giant seal are the words “Climate Legacy" and "#NoKXL,” reminding Obama that his decision on granting a permit for TransCanada to build the Keystone XL pipeline across an international border will become part of the story of his time in office.
“We worked for days in the field, on land directly in the path of this risky tar sands pipeline, to send the president a message that his climate legacy must include a rejection of Keystone XL,” Tanderup said. “I am a farmer who has taken climate action by installing solar panels and water sensors and adopting sustainable practices like no-till. I urge the president to stand with the people of the heartland and to honor his climate legacy by saying no to Keystone.”
The proposed route for the pipeline, which would carry 840,000 barrels of crude oil per day to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast, crosses Tanderup's land.
He and his wife, Helen, hosted about 8,000 people on their land in September for an anti-pipeline concert that featured musicians Neil Young and Willie Nelson.
Alberta-based TransCanada has tried for years to gain the federal approval it needs to build the pipeline from the Canadian border to the southern edge of Nebraska where it would link with an existing pipeline.
The project has become a symbol of the ongoing conflict between pro-oil-industry interests who want to bring the diluted bitumen from Canada to market and environmentalists who say it would hasten development of Canada’s tar sands and contribute to climate change, as well as put public water and lands at risk of oil spills.
The new art on the Tanderup land is the second Nebraskans have created with artist John Quigley, Bold Nebraska said in a news release.
Quigley travels the world installing art projects with a message of protecting the land and water and urging citizens and leaders to take climate action, the news release says. Last year, an image of the Cowboy and Indian Alliance logo was etched into the land as farmers, ranchers and Native allies rode horses in Washington, D.C., to carry the message “Reject and Protect.”
“This new image calls for President Obama to rise to the challenge of the most urgent issue facing the world today — protecting water, land and future generations from the disastrous impacts of extreme climate change,” Quigley said in a statement. “Rejecting the Keystone pipeline will be the defining moment for his climate legacy. History and future generations will hail this landmark decision as a critical turning point.”
Workers used a 1978 John Deere tractor, shovels and rakes to create the design over eight days. The black contrast is landscape paper, the green is rye, and the tan is corn stalks. The six arrows in the eagle's talon represent the six states in the original path of Keystone XL: Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. The three stars represent the states fighting the project.