I wanted to say something intelligent about this and all I can think of is frightening. It’s astounding to me that this is still even in question. That there is so much energy being spent on both sides that there is not proper mapping of the pipeline’s route. They obviously don’t want the impacted communities to know their potential fate. How short sighted (or bought off) can Obama and the State Department leaders really be? Apparently there is severe division within the administration over this issue. Bloomberg reports that, “The Obama world’s split on Keystone is so deep that it even divides White House aides who’ve left the administration.” And that, ‘The internal divisions among Obama supporters driven by Keystone threaten to sap dollars and volunteer enthusiasm from Organizing for Action, the policy group born out of Obama’s re-election campaign that raised $4.9 million in the first three months of this year. The split may hurt OFA’s ability to build support for the president’s other initiatives, such as immigration and revising the tax code.”
Here’s the piece by Beth Buczynski for Earth Techling
While we know the proposed Keystone XL pipeline expansion will travel the entire length of the country, the exact path has been somewhat unclear. Since neither TransCanada Corporation nor the U.S. Department of State has been willing to give Americans an exact map of where the tar sands pipeline will be installed, author and photographer Thomas Bachand decided to tackle it himself.
Bachand is the founder of the Keystone Mapping Project (KMP) a nationally recognized multimedia and photography project examining land use and climate change in America through an exploration of the Keystone XL. He’s been fighting tooth and nail to hammer out an actual map of the pipeline’s proposed route, so that we can see just how close to our backyards, schools, and water supplies it will run.
Image via KMP
It’s incredible that a project as massive and with such potentially sweeping consequences as the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline would lack something as simple as a map for public inspection–but according to Bachand, that’s the sad truth.
“Prior to the Keystone Mapping Project, only rudimentary maps of the pipeline were available,” Bachand explained in an email. “The maps issued with the FEIS [Final Environmental Impact Statement] have been stripped of all lat/long information. The FEIS is also missing key location information, including milepost markers and waterbody crossings. Without this information, it is impossible to conduct any meaningful analysis of the pipeline, let alone determine its environmental impacts.”
Making that information available, for landowners, communities, non-profits fighting the pipeline, and journalists trying to unravel the forces pushing for its approval, has been the biggest impact of Bachand’s project thus far.
Combining satellite imagery with custom mapping features, the images depict a hypothetical voluntary evacuation zone should an oil spill occur. Individually, the panels examine the interplay of physical and human geography. In series the photography reveals broader patterns and larger questions.
Image via Thomas Bachand
“Larger questions” are probably whythe Federal Government isn’t very eager for the KMP to succeed. Blog posts on Bachand’s website detail many months of slashing through red tape in an attempt to obtain the comprehensive GIS data set that should accompany the FEIS.
“Currently, I am using data acquired from state agencies, others’ FOIA requests, and my own independent analysis,” said Bachand. “I can only speculate as to why the GIS data remains a secret, as neither TransCanada nor the DOS will provide me with a credible answer. The objective seems to be to forestall independent and detailed analysis.”
Follow Bachand’s progress and support the KMP here.
Thanks to TB for forwarding this post.