The Keystone Mapping Project (KMP) is a photography and multimedia project examining land use and climate change in America through an exploration of the Keystone XL – the proposed 2,000 mile diluted bitumen pipeline that bisects the North American Continent. The controversial pipeline has become emblematic of our inability to reconcile world demand for fossil fuels with the environmental imperatives imposed upon modern civilization. This is a modern landscape described by markets, regulatory documents, legislation, bureaucracies, and public relations.
At first glimpse, the Keystone route appears as a single oil export pipeline bisecting the North American continent. Yet, the pipeline is more than a geographical dividing line. While politicians and TransCanada Corporation bemoan America’s need for cheap domestic oil, economic analysis shows that the Keystone XL will not only raise domestic oil prices, but that the oil transported by the Keystone is primarily bound for export markets. Many landowners welcome TransCanada’s leases. Others are fighting the Canadian company’s use of eminent domain to gain right-of-way. Communities, while interested in the income that the pipeline will bring, find themselves concerned with threats to their air, water, and agriculture. Nationwide, environmentalists, landowners, and local governments feel voiceless against influential corporations, lax environmental laws, and regulatory disinterest. In both literal and figurative terms, the Keystone XL is a dividing line.
Taking this broader perspective, the KMP utilizes a multifaceted photographic approach. Thomas Bachand’s fine art photography examines natural and community landscapes and the industrialized environs powering our lifestyles and ambitions. His abstract satellite imagery overlaid with mapping graphics captures the national breadth of the Keystone XL, thereby broadening the discussion of the impacts of our energy choices. The KMP Share → Map application invites the public to contribute photography on an ongoing basis. Students and photo enthusiasts are encouraged to contact the KMP regarding a planned national photo contest.
Covered extensively in the media, the KMP has established itself as the most comprehensive publicly-available mapping resource for the pipeline. The project’s website and mobile app allow communities, stakeholders, journalists and non-profits to more easily evaluate the pipeline and its impacts, and identify and cooperatively address common issues.
The Keystone Mapping Project crosses ideological boundaries to find itself at the juncture of land use, economic and energy policy, and climate change. An examination of the Keystone, ultimately, is an examination of ourselves.
The KMP is the creation of author, photographer, and web developer Thomas Bachand.