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A Watershed Moment - Blather. Rants. Repeat.
A Møøse once bit my sister ...
A Watershed Moment

You've probably heard some, but not nearly enough, about the Standing Rock standoff in North Dakota.  An oil company diverted a new pipeline away from Bismarck, North Dakota after complaints that it might leak or explode and pollute the city's water supply. So they rerouted it onto sacred land and water of the Sioux Nation, and when protesters from within and outside the tribe showed up, they enlisted heavily armed rent-a-cops, and eventually hordes of the real ones, to attack protesters with dogs and rubber bullets, arrest journalists on specious charges, and try to spend and militarize their way out of the protest.

There's some hope- President Obama commented on it two days ago and is encouraging the Army Corps of Engineers to reroute the pipeline- but today's focus was on a bizarre confluence of Northern greed and South-by-Southwest cool: the CEO of the company behind this pipeline is, of all things, a folk music maven.

Meet Kelcy Warren:

A native of East Texas and graduate of the University of Texas at Arlington with a degree in civil engineering, Warren worked in the natural gas industry and became co-chair of Energy Transfer Equity in 2007. With business partner Ray Davis, co-owner of the Texas Rangers baseball team, Warren built Energy Transfer Equity into one of the nation's largest pipeline companies, which now owns about 71,000 miles of pipelines carrying natural gas, natural gas liquids, refined products and crude oil. The company's holdings include Sunoco, Southern Union and Regency Energy Partners.

...Warren owns the Lajitas Golf Resort along the Rio Grande near the Mexican border as well as Music Road Records, a roots label that operates recording studios in Austin and Cherokee, Texas. Warren's musical model is singer-songwriter Jackson Browne.

He's so enamored of the singer, in 2014 his record company put out a tribute album of covers featuring such respected artists as Don Henley, Keb' Mo', Lyle Lovett, Lucinda Williams, Bonnie Raitt, Bruce Springsteen & Patti Scialfa,  Bruce Hornsby and Shawn Colvin. 

Now that word of his evil deeds has gotten out, his beloved subject and many of the artists who covered songs on the record have disavowed the project. Browne himself

this week put out a statement opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline and announcing that he'll donate all proceeds from a tribute album of his songs released by Music Road Records to tribes fighting the pipeline:

    I did not know anything about Kelcy Warren's other business as the production of this album went forward. Although as a music publisher there is no legal way to deny permission to a record company to cover a song that has been previously published, I could have dissuaded the artists from appearing on this record had I known. I routinely vet the companies who ask me to perform for them. I do not play for oil interests. I do not play for companies who defile nature, or companies who attack demonstrators with trained attack dogs and pepper spray. The list of companies I have denied the use of my music is long. I certainly would not have allowed my songs to be recorded by a record company whose owner's other business does what Energy Transfer Partners is allegedly doing — threatening the water supply and the sacred sites of indigenous people.

He also joined many of the artists who contributed the covers- including Colvin, Osborne and Keb'Mo' - in signing a letter penned by the Indigo Girls, who had previously played at his Texas festival. No more:

    "We realize the bucolic setting of your festival and the image it projects is in direct conflict with the Dakota Access Pipeline ... this pipeline violates the Standing Rock Sioux Nations' treaty rights, endangers the vital Missouri River, and continues the trajectory of genocide against Native Peoples."

The letter concluded, "We will no longer play your festival or participate in Music Road Records recordings. We implore you to stop construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline."

Amy and Emily came on to the Democracy Now radio show this morning to speak about their effort. They will be joining many of their folk performer friends, and Jackson Browne himself, at a concert on Sioux land later this month to benefit and support the water protector efforts.

Later in the day (all of it on the road in Rochester, where I'll return from the kids' place in the morning for another full day there), the local NPR affiliate played this Indigo Girls song- one of my first and still favorites of theirs. Whether the station played it on account of this news or not, I can't say- but it takes on a whole deeper meaning for me knowing that Amy and Emily are putting their royalties where the Rock is:

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