The State Department has reassured the world that the Keystone Pipeline will probably have very little environmental impact, which is all well and good, except for one tiny detail: the State Department doesn’t know the pipeline’s actual route. Without knowing the exact forests that will be chopped down, the rivers that will be crossed and the farms that will be trampled on, it is unlikely that the government can really understand any environmental consequences resulting from the pipeline—which is what makes the State Department’s recent admission so startling.
About a year ago, San-Francisco photographer and author Thomas Bachand had the idea to photograph the Keystone Pipeline route before construction moved forward. But right away he ran into a problem; no one seemed to know the exact path. So he submitted a Freedom of Information Act request with the government to obtain the details. A few weeks ago, the Department of State responded that they could not provide the requested information because they didn’t have it. In fact, no one but the company responsible for building the Pipeline and its contractors know the actual route. Not the President, not the Secretary of State and not the Department of State.
The State Department and TransCanada, the company in charge of the project, have generic maps on their websites, but none of these sites provide accurate, detailed information. So Bachand contacted TransCanada to see if he could get the information from them, only to be denied under the guise that providing that information would present a national security risk. Without knowing the exact route, it is impossible for a community to prepare for the impact and it is impossible to really study and understand the environmental impact.