Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

Mapping the Keystone XL Pipeline Through Texas (And Beyond)

Courtesy the Keystone Mapping Project. ©Thomas Bachand 2012.

When San Francisco Bay area landscape photographer Thomas Bachand first heard about the Keystone XL pipeline, which will take heavy oil harvested from tar pits in Canada to refineries in Texas; he started looking around for a map of it. And he quickly discovered there wasn’t one to be found.

“Obfuscation is a big part of this [pipeline] project,” Bachand tells StateImpact Texas. To show where the pipeline will go — how many rivers, wetlands and streams it will cross, for instance — Bachand started the Keystone Mapping Project. Painstakingly collecting what information he could get from public agencies, he was able to put together an interactive map of the pipeline, which you can view above.

We recently spoke by phone with Bachand to learn about how he put the map together.

Q: So how’d you get involved in this?

A: I started out wanting to scout the route for a potential photography project. So I went looking for a map, and discovered there wasn’t one. I went over to the State Department website, and found some great information, but then I discovered there wasn’t any route information. So while you could find where a wetland was, for example, it would say, ‘Wetland 500 feet from Mile Post 182.’ You couldn’t find where Mile Post 182 was. The State Department was helpful, but they weren’t allowed to release the information. So I started looking around, and I went to the states. One gave me the mile post information, but everyone else either didn’t have the information, or they wouldn’t release it.

Some of the states would give me mile post information. Others would only give me route information. And others, like Texas, I had to pull the information off the Railroad Commission website, which was rather laborious. And Oklahoma absolutely stonewalled me. Nebraska though, has been more cooperative the more I’ve gotten to know them. And Canada I can’t get any information from.

And TransCanada [the Canadian company behind the pipeline], the runaround I got from them. Their excuse was that [releasing the information] was a national security risk, which is just a joke.

Q: So where’d you go from there?

A: At first, I thought there must be a legitimate reason that this information wasn’t public. And ironically, it will be public information once the project is finished. The whole thing is designed between the State Department and TransCanada to keep the wider public in the dark until they can get the pipeline in the ground.

They don’t want one landowner knowing what the other is doing. And they certainly don’t want me, sitting here in California, knowing what’s going on with the pipeline route.

Q: What’s been the response to the map?

A: It’s been extremely positive, no matter who you talk to, except for TransCanada. One guy at the State department was very encouraging to me. He said, ‘I love what you’re doing, and we need more people like you doing this kind of thing.’

The thing about the Keystone, it transcends ideological boundaries. Environmentalists have their reason why they’re involved, but then you also have landowners and people who are on the opposite ideological divide who have a whole other reason.

Bachand’s map of the Keystone XL pipeline can be found on this website. You can see water crossings, proximity to oil and gas wells, as well as evacuation zones. Bachand next hopes to map where TransCanada has used eminent domain to route the pipeline through private land.

The southern leg from Oklahoma to Texas is currently under construction, and TransCanada expects a northern leg to be permitted early next year, with construction beginning shortly afterward.


  • Q

    Join the 21st Century Technology. It will help us to be indeoendent from The Middle East which is Mr. Obama Wants!

    • Mr. Q,
      The US is already independent of the need to bring in oil from the Middle East; guess you weren’t listening to the State of the Union when this was confirmed by President Obama. Thus, I must believe you have a more pressing agenda to get in regards, to this Keystone Pipe Line.

    • As it has been viewed and the actions for which Obama has taken, (1) Obama has turned down the Keystone pipe line in regards to the people’s request and (2) by Obama’s efforts we are receiving less foreign oil today as was stated in his State of the Union speech. It is evident that you have not done your homework or you are one of those who despiratly wants this pipe line project to go through, because you have just told two untruths
      .We are more independent of foreign oil today than we have ever been since Obama has taken office and and 21 century technology involved less oil and coal.

      • glassiecurio

        Obama turned down the pipeline because it runs through right-to-work states and he and his buddies want to change it to go through union states. There was a lawsuit they were waiting on but i haven’t looked at the outcome of that.

        Stop your own environwacko crap! OMG!! WE’RE GONNA DIE!!!!–> is getting old.

  • Q

    Join the 21st Century Technology and Stop forcing us to go to Obama’s Brothers in the Middle East! If you don’t live in these state, Butt Out!. If you live there deal with the local folks on this issue

    • Mr. Q,
      You are telling untruths and aren’t up on your present American history that has just been made within Obama’s State of the Union address which makes it sound like you are one of those Republicans and wealthy who have invested so heavily in this pipeline, that you want to make sure you glean your economic payback, especially since this nation-wide project was never been made to the American public at its conception, nor has any information been made publicly available to the American people since, who will have to live with this pipeline. All of which means those whose land will be given away by by eminent domain which is dishonest by the wealthy/politics, the owners of any land this pipeline goes across, won’t be able to live on their land because of the cancer and deformative nature that this strongly fumes deliver to any humans and aninals, which are given off by this tar oil, means eventually there will be many who die, many biologically deformed by these fumes and the cancer agents within this tar oil project, will be born for both humans and animals. Thus, the completion and payback for the Rich, Republicans and governmental investors will eventually get their economic paybacks, but the people land whose has been dishonestly taken, will be greet the people with their ultimate death, have highly potential prospects for having deformed babies, and die earlier. The Rich will have inherited our country, after the health care problem has been gotten rid of by those who silently began it. You must too, be one of those who prefers to spread the word of self-fulfilling dishonest untruths and fear to reap a harvest at the expense of other Americans.

    • Mr. Q,

      I live in Texas and have kept up with this whole affair which has been shown to be heavily, heavily complicated with Congressional and Federal Dept of State connections even before the public were aware of its existance. Now you are still continuing the Republican lies that we need the pipeline to be equal and self-supporting instead of having to bring oil from with the Middle East.

  • Yeah, because pollution stays within state borders. Oh wait…

  • Silence and ‘with giving only limited information’ that can be given out from among all those governmental politcally areas, to which Terrence Henry, went to seek information, knew why all the information Henry was asking for ‘shouldn’t be given out.’ Koch and those who hold Washington Congressional positions, who have heavily invested in this pipeline with their money, want this pipeline to go through against what ‘the people’ want. Silence and not being free with information, shows that it is those who represent us are the ones who refuse to accept the facts that this pipeline that are bad for the whole. This is a true key to those with the wealth and those in governmental position want this pipeline to getting through. Interestingly, those of ‘the people’ whose land has been aquired by eminent domin by a foreign country, not represented by the United States, have been given away to the wealthy and those in Congress, who won’t have to live by this pipeline, die from the cancer that there are scientific studies already acknowledges that this type of tar oil will give to humans and animals alike and to the new born humans and animals alike will be born with deformaties which too has already been placed in scientific studies. But apparently, to drink the freshwater contamiated by these tar oil leakages will be justified too, down the line in history. I do believe the wealthy and those in Washington have bitten off a great deal that the American people won’t support and have never supported.

  • READ The Truth: http://action.sierraclub.org/site/PageServer?pagename=forwardonclimate_tarsands

    Energy Security: Keystone XL Exposed”, Oil Change

    Gas prices: Keystone XL will increase gas prices for
    Americans—Especially Farmers

    By draining Midwestern refineries of cheap Canadian crude into
    export-oriented refineries in the Gulf Coast, Keystone XL will increase the cost
    of gas for Americans.

    2008 Permit Application states “Existing markets for Canadian heavy
    crude, principally PADD II [U.S. Midwest], are currently oversupplied, resulting
    in price discounting for Canadian heavy crude oil. Access to the USGC [U.S. Gulf
    Coast] via the Keystone XL Pipeline is expected to strengthen Canadian crude oil
    pricing in [the Midwest] by removing this oversupply. This is expected to
    increase the price of heavy crude to the equivalent cost of imported crude. The
    resultant increase in the price of heavy crude is estimated to provide an
    increase in annual revenue to the Canadian producing industry in 2013 of US $2
    billion to US $3.9 billion.”

    analysis of these figures found this would increase per-gallon prices by 20
    cents/gallon in the Midwest.

    According to an
    independent analysis U.S. farmers, who spent $12.4 billion on fuel in 2009
    could see expenses rise to $15 billion or higher in 2012 or 2013 if the pipeline
    goes through. At least $500 million of the added expense would come from the
    Canadian market manipulation.

    • glassiecurio

      We aren’t getting the oil. We are shipping it abroad.

  • Climate Change: Keystone XL is the fuse to North America’s biggest
    carbon bomb.

    In a study funded by the
    Rockefeller Foundation, a group of retired four-star generals and admirals
    concluded that climate change, if not addressed, will be the greatest threat to
    national security.

    The State Department Environmental Impact Statement fails to adequately
    analyze lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions caused by the pipeline.
    Extraction and refinement of oil sands are more GHG-intensive compared to
    conventional oil. The EIS estimates that the additional annual GHG emissions
    from the proposed pipeline could range from an additional “12-23 million metric
    tons of CO2 equivalent… (roughly the equivalent of annual emissions from 2 to 4
    coal-fired power plants)” over conventional crude oil from the Middle East. [8]
    The EPA believes that the methodology used by the State Department is inaccurate
    and could underestimate GHG emissions by as much as 20 percent.[
    9] Given that the expected lifetime of the Keystone XL pipeline is fifty
    years, the EPA notes that the project could yield an extra 1.15 billion tons of
    GHGs using the quantitative estimates in the EIS.

  • Lacey

    Unplug the monkey syndrome. What good does more make. The land was dead along time ago. It’s just been bleeding out. Violations of water, air, and earth is the biggest childish fight there is. Whwn is the world gonna grow up and stop hurting itself for more more more of stuff u dont even know why you want. Monkeys cant see, hear or talk.

  • Anita Meeks

    Too many people do not seem to realize that the oil created from this sludge is NOT DESTINED for use in the United States. The output/end product will be exported to China. It will NOT provide any advantage for the US population.. At this time, many of the refineries in Texas have not been upgraded in decades and are not capable of processing petroleum products that we already have as US products.

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