FOIA Appeal Finding: Dept of State Defers to TransCanada

After nearly a one-year FOIA appeal process, the Department of State (DoS) has reversed its earlier finding that it did not have Keystone XL mapping data and now has revealed that it is withholding the pipeline’s routing data at the request of TransCanada, the company building the project.

In March of 2012 I filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the DoS for the milepost marker and GIS route data missing from the Keystone XL Final Environmental Impact Statement. Without this data, one cannot make sense of the report’s analysis. Met with delay, I began researching basic route data from a variety of sources and over the next two years compiled the only publicly-available interactive map of the pipeline from Montana to the Texas Gulf Coast. During this time, the DoS released two additional reports, the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement and the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, both of which further redacted mapping data.

It wasn’t until June 2013 that the DoS responded to my initial FOIA request, stating that “Neither Cardno ENTRIX nor TransCanada ever submitted GIS information to the Department of State, nor was either corporation required to do so.” TransCanada disputed this finding.

Perplexed by how the DoS could make an environmental analysis of the Keystone XL without mapping data, I appealed the finding to the DoS Appeals Review Panel. On May 15, 2014, after 10 months of further delay, the panel issued its finding, stating that:

TransCanada made certain pipeline mapping data was available to the Department’s third-party contractor for the contractor’s use solely in connection with the National Environmental Policy Act review of the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline Project. TransCanada made clear that it retained all rights to the data and placed express limitations on its use. As a result, the Department lacks the requisite control over these files for them to be considered ‘agency records’ for purposes of the FOIA.

In other words, the DoS will not release mapping data essential to evaluation of their Keystone XL environmental reports, as the foreign corporation building the project wishes that it remain private. Unspoken is that the third-party contractors who authored the DoS reports are leading consultants to the oil and gas industry and may be susceptible to divided loyalties. Typically, where conflicts of interest may arise, independent review is encouraged. Yet, in this case, by withholding data the DoS has effectively shielded the 2,000 mile diluted bitumen pipeline from open and independent review.

This lack of transparency has plagued the Keystone XL. When I approached the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in 2012 regarding TransCanada’s claim that Keystone XL route data was secret due to National Security concerns, I was told that this was certainly not the case as, once built, the buried pipeline will be marked with stakes in the ground. To expedite approval of the southern Gulf Coast segment of the Keystone, the White House fast-tracked the process through the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), effectively sidelining the Environmental Protection Agency from the permitting process. It was only after USACE issued a Nationwide Permit 12 – obviating independent review of over 600 waterbody crossings, that river, stream, and wetland data was made public.

If, as proponents claim, the Keystone is of such great importance, why are we not engaged in a more educated discussion? When journalists, national non-profits, landowners, Native American tribes, academics, and activists are contacting me, a photographer, for routing information, the government’s entire environmental review methodology and regulatory regime is called into question.

Map Update: Keystone XL North

With the release of the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (FSEIS) by the Department of State (DoS) on January 31, 2014, one would think more clarity would have been brought to the Keystone XL route and the pipeline’s impacts. In January of 2013, I was told by the DoS that the agency had milepost data to 1/10th of a mile and that updated maps and waterbody tables would be included in an upcoming report. Now a year later, the report has just been released and, not only is the milepost data still missing, but updated route maps have been redacted “as sensitive information not for public distribution.” (Appendix B,C,&D). The Environmental Report’s author, Exponent, does not seem to be aware that both PHMSA and FERC consider pipeline data public and that the pipeline route will be easily located once construction begins. Upon completion, marker stakes will caution construction crews to the buried pipeline. The route maps from the 2008 FEIS and 2009 SEIS, sans latitude/longitude data, remain online.

Montana’s Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), South Dakota’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources (SD DENR), and the South Dakota Public Utility Commission (SD PUC) all claim that they do not have the most current route data. TransCanada will submit route data to these agencies after the White House approves the project and forty-five days before construction begins. Evidently, at that point the data ceases to be “sensitive.”

According the South Dakota Keystone Public Liaison officer – an appointee of the the SD PUC who is paid by TransCanada to deal with landowner issues, since 2009 many groups have been visiting South Dakota to survey the route, including Native American tribes, biologists, archaeologists, and engineers, related and unrelated to TransCanada. This indicates a much broader interest in the route. So why aren’t state and Federal agencies making this GIS data publicly available?

Now, courtesy of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, the US Fish and Wildlife Service has filled in in many of the gaps by releasing the August 2012 centerline map of the Keystone XL. For the Montana section this newly released route falls within the MDEQ’s currently publicized 500 foot corridor. The Nebraska segment is identical to the revised centerline route released in the May 1, 2013 SEIS. In contrast, the South Dakota route shows nearly 30 changes. Route changes can be cross referenced to tables on the DSEIS (8 MB) and FSEIS (8 MB).

FOIA Update: Appeal Hearing Delayed for Fifth Time

The December appeal hearing concerning the Department of State’s response to my 2012 FOIA request for Keystone XL GIS data never took place… nor did November’s, nor October’s. As you may recall, in June of 2013 the DOS responded that they had neither requested nor received GIS data for the Keystone XL pipeline. Next, my appeal was scheduled to be heard in January, which quietly expires this weekend. Now in our sixth month of delays, the 21-day appeal response time limit stipulated by the FOIA statute has long passed.

According to the DOS, appeal cases are internally reviewed prior to being brought before the appeal panel. The appeal panel is made up of outside consultants who are paid to hear the appeals. Due to budgetary constraints, I was told, the DOS has not been able to bring the panel together (as you may recall this time period coincides with the government shutdown and other such austerity). So it has appeared that throughout the Fall my case has not gone to appeal, not because it has not been reviewed, but because simply the panel has not met.

Yet, this line of explanation evaporated yesterday when a DOS official responded to my latest inquiry. “Your request is still under review and did not make it through in time for the Appeals Review Panel. The new estimated completion date is May 2014.”

As the DOS is currently working on a long-anticipated, revised environmental impact statement for the Keystone XL, one would think they could readily determine whether they had the GIS data or not. It’s not as if they have to look very far to find it. In the least, it’s a phone call to TransCanada away. As I doubt I’ll be seeing this data before the release of the revised EIS, those eagerly awaiting the revised report shouldn’t hold their breath.

The Cartographer’s Illusion

map of California as an islandIn November I had the pleasure of attending Mapping and It’s Discontents, a symposium put on by the UC Berkeley Global Urban Humanities Initiative and hosted by the David Brower Center. The speakers covered everything from the history of mapping to the innovative developments brought on by our digital age, including big-data demographic applications and quirky artistic renderings. The attendees were quite diverse. Their map creations can found at the See-Through Maps Exhibit and Attendee Maps. Video of the symposium can be found online here. For those intrigued by maps, the above links are well worth visiting.

During the event, I was often reminded of a young man I met decades ago while traveling through the Nusa Tengara archipelago of Indonesia. I wrote about him in “A Vagabond World,” my book on world travel. While negotiating the city of Kupang, West Timor with a tourist map, I consulted the teenager after I became lost on a side street. He did not speak English and I spoke only basic Bhasa Indonesian. He took my green tourist map, turned it this way and that, and finally returned it to me with a shrug. I realized he had never seen a map.

Before then, it had never occurred to me that the map is the purview of an educated class. It is a human construct of a physical space, which effectively (and often unquestioned) dictates the meaning of a landscape. The cartographer’s illusion. The tourist bureau that issued my map of Kupang had one view of the city; city engineers, undoubtedly, had quite another.

To this day, when I think of Kupang, I imagine that friendly green map, despite the unforgettable smell of the open sewers. In my mind it became the city’s logo – in the same way that a map of the lower 48 says “United States.” Each map, designed for a different purpose, creates a different image and feeling in our mind, and deeply influences how we both perceive and engage with a physical space. And while exploring without a map encourages an intimate understanding of a landscape, a well-engineered map establishes a dialogue within the community.

In the case to the Keystone XL, where neither TransCanada nor the Department of State will provide a map, we are placed in the same position as that young man from the Third World: we turn the simplistic company map this way and that, and unable to make sense of it, abandon it altogether.

FOIA Update: Appeal Delayed, Appeal Denied

In their June response to my Keystone XL FOIA request, the Department of State (DOS) declared, after a fifteen-month review, that they did not have the Keystone XL’s GIS data – despite the agency being tasked with reviewing the project’s environmental impacts (read more here). The FOIA statute allows for an appeal of this finding and requires a response by the DOS within 21 days. In this case, where the requested information is not found, the appeal process reviews the completeness of the department’s search.

Come September I began making follow up calls, only to be told the appeal was pending. I learned that 30 other Keystone FOIA requests were also pending (readers may recall that last year I was told that I was the only one seeking Keystone XL route information). Further calls revealed that my request had to be reviewed by an appeal board which meets once a month – the next meeting being in December (don’t ask).

Of course, the 21-day response deadline set by Congress turns out to be hopelessly optimistic. More to the point, the delay raises questions about short-staffing at the DOS. Does the Pentagon have this problem?

For an impartial view on this case I contacted the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS), the governmental agency “Congress has charged with reviewing FOIA policies, procedures and compliance.” An OGIS employee told me she was encouraged that the DOS was providing me with updates at all.

Stay tuned.

Map: Trail of Tears and the Keystone XL

A new KMP supplementary Google Earth map is now available for late 19th Century Ponca and Pawnee migrations, including the Trail of Tears. This map shows the relationship between these historic, sacred routes and the Keystone XL corridor.

While the First Peoples of Canada have become very vocal in the tar sands pipeline discussion, less visible are Native Americans. Of particular note is the sacred “Trail of Tears” and other Ponca and Pawnee migration trails which bisect the Keystone XL on their way from Nebraska to Oklahoma.

More information on the Ponca Tribe can be found here. Additional Ponca history, including another Google Earth map and history on Ponca Post-Columbus migrations, can be found here.

TransCanada Contradicts DOS

The mysterious Keystone route. Now you see it, now you don’t.

As reported earlier on this blog, in response to my April 2012 FOIA request for routing data for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, the Department of State (DOS) revealed in June of this year, for the first time, that TransCanada was not required to submit the data and the DOS never required or requested that it be submitted, despite the fact that it is referenced throughout the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS). I asked TransCanada’s press office if this were true and was told by email,

“It is our understanding that the DOS has been given the most current route information. If there is additional information they require, we will be happy to provide that to them.”

As my follow up emails and telephone calls to TransCanada went unanswered, I was unable to determine who at the DOS received the information and when they received it.

So, the bigger questions remain:

How does the the DOS fulfill it’s regulatory duty if it does not have the route data, has it but can’t find it, or worse, doesn’t even know whether it has or doesn’t have the data?

If the DOS is not reviewing the pipeline’s Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS), who is?

With these questions unanswered, how is the public supposed to have confidence that the DOS has performed adequate due diligence before exercising its critical authority on such a highly controversial and dangerous pipeline project, particularly when our national security is at risk?

The controversy and challenges facing the Keystone XL in the state of Nebraska offer insight into these questions.

The pipeline permit issued by the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) authorizes a routing corridor of 2,000 feet, a zone over 1/3 of a mile wide in which TransCanada can build their pipeline. Yet, while TransCanada has a 110-foot center-line route selected within this corridor, the actual route within the corridor remains a corporate secret – even to the NDEQ, who says that they do not have rights to TransCanada’s information. This jibes with the DOS’ claim that that they themselves do not possess the routing data.

More astonishing is the experience of Nebraska landowners. According to Jane Kleeb of Bold Nebraska, TransCanada will not reveal the route across a landowner’s property unless that landowner first signs a contract for the pipeline easement in perpetuity.

Meanwhile, TransCanada claims that only 10-30% of Nebraska landowners whose land is crossed by the proposed pipeline do not support the pipeline. Kleeb points out that this can’t possibly be true since 35% of landowners are members of the Nebraska Easement Action Team (NEAT), all of whom refuse to negotiate easements with TransCanada unless the state gets involved. According to NEAT, “no one in Nebraska government in over five years – not your Governor, Attorney General, NDEQ, or Legislature – evaluated the Easement Agreement, the document TransCanada proposes to use with landowners as the controlling terms for how your land will be affected.” As NEAT does not represent all landowners in opposition, Kleeb thinks the opposition numbers are closer to 50%.

In their email to me, TransCanada’s press office went on to say:

In fact, the pipeline route is placed on the National Pipeline Mapping System, which allows any first responder to call up information on any pipeline in their jurisdiction (pipeline, route, product) so that they have current and correct information to assist them in carrying out their duties. This is not new and is a long-standing practice because pipelines are deemed to be critical infrastructure so some information may not be part of a publicly available document to protect the safety of our people, landowners and the communities where these lines run and these important assets.

In other words, we’ll tell you where it is once we build it – as you’ll be cleaning up the mess.

Keystone XL Google Earth Map Updated

The Keystone Mapping Project’s Google Earth view has seen a number of updates recently, including expanded informational windows, addition of the 2,000 foot Nebraska routing corridor, and the correction of a number of rendering errors.

The new file can be found on the Keystone XL Google Earth Downloads page.

Please consider making a donation to this project as these maps and resources come to you at considerable expense in time, effort, and expertise.

Interviewed on NPR’s Living On Earth

The Keystone Mapping Project has been getting a good deal of press lately. This week, my interview with Steve Curwood headlined PRI’s “Living On Earth.”

KMP on Living On Earth »»

Other recent press:

Final Response to FOIA: “No GIS Data”

In their response to my FOIA request for the Keystone XL pipeline’s GIS data, including milepost marker longitude and latitude coordinates, the Department of State (DOS) has revealed that TransCanada did not supply the data and nor did the DOS request or require it. Without this digital mapping information, the Keystone XL’s Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) are incomplete and cannot be evaluated for environmental impacts.

In their letter, the DOS stated:

Based on the subject matter of your request, we contacted the offices most likely to have responsive records: the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs; and the Bureau of Energy, Economics and Business. We were informed by employees familiar with the records and organization of those offices that the Department does not have copies of records responsive to your request because the Environmental Impact Statement for the Keystone pipeline project was created by Cardno ENTRIX under a contract financed by TransCanada Keystone Pipeline LP, and not the U.S. government. Neither Cardno ENTRIX nor TransCanada ever submitted GIS information to the Department of State, nor was either corporation required to do so. The information that you request, if it exists, is therefore neither physically nor constructively under the control of the Department of State and we are therefore unable to comply with your FOIA request.

Did the DOS, TransCanada, and Cardno ENTRIX all fail to perform due diligence in this case only – or is this standard operating procedure?

Last year when I requested the data from TransCanada, I was told that releasing it would be a “national security risk.” Despite this, TransCanada only carries $200 million in third party liability insurance. By contrast, cleanup costs for the 2010 pipeline spill in Kalamazoo, Michigan are $1 billion and climbing.

Why hasn’t TransCanada supplied, Cardno ENTRIX seen fit to include, or the DOS requested, electronic data of such national importance?

Last week President Obama said

I know there’s been, for example, a lot of controversy surrounding the proposal to build a pipeline — the Keystone pipeline, that would carry oil from Canadian tar sands down to refineries in the Gulf. The State Department is going through the final stages of evaluating the proposal. That’s how it’s always been done.

But I do want to be clear. Allowing the Keystone pipeline to be built requires a finding that doing so would be in our nation’s interest.

How does the DOS evaluate such national security, economic, and environmental interests without the electronic data?

Evidently, the Keystone Mapping Project knows more about the Keystone XL pipeline route than the United States Government.

DOS Final FOIA Response Keystone XL GIS data request
DOS Final FOIA Response Keystone XL GIS data request

FOIA Update: Taskers

Since December I’ve made close to two dozen calls to the friendly and professional staff at the Department of State in an effort to track down my FOIA request.

Early on, the Office of Environmental Quality and Transboundary Issues referred me to the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs. I explained the whole matter of milepost markers and waterbody crossings to the kind woman there – only to learn, over a month and five calls later, that she was transitioning out of the job. Her parting voice mail assured me that the DOS had the GIS information I was looking for and that a new report from TransCanada would be coming out soon. Many calls later, the best her replacement could do was to say that she didn’t have a response for me. I think she got tired of my follow up calls, though. Another month later, in mid-March, I received an email from the person reviewing my request, saying:

Since you have exchanged messages and have spoken on the phone with various of my colleagues concerning your above referenced case, I just wanted to let you know that I was assigned as reviewer; that I have finished my work; and that I am therefore sending the case for senior review. I hope that the case will be concluded in the very near future.

“Finally, pay dirt!” I said to myself. A year after filing my request I was going to receive a response. The thing is, he didn’t send along his number. I waited. Emailed. Waited some more. Six weeks later I tracked him down and left a message.

Turns out, he had written me a letter and it was sitting over in Legal waiting for review. Over the ensuing weeks I left more messages and sent a couple of emails and there my letter sat in Legal. I imagined it buried under other letters just like it in the “In” box, waiting it’s turn.

I tried to not take it personally, but yes, the reviewer, too, tired of me. He passed me off to the Public Liaison, a cheerful woman who insisted she was going to get to the bottom of it. She explained the whole FOIA process to me. My request would have a tracking number assigned to it. Then it would be checked that it was valid and, indeed, something the DOS could respond to. For the first time it occurred to me that the DOS could be getting totally bizarre FOIA requests for such things as Wayne Shorter’s overseas play lists or pizza recipes used in Ghana.

My request would than be assigned to a geographic team and a privacy team, where a case analyst would conduct a review and do cable searches before sending it out to “taskers” to find the data. The final step would find my request returned for review and evaluated for how it fit with the law.

Come again? I did all that tasking a year ago! I told them who to call. Gave them the numbers. Yet, there the letter sat.

I’ve been assured I’ll get it any day.

Tesla Beats Keystone Border-to-Border

New to the KMP Google Earth Add-on maps is a map of Tesla charging stations.

Currently one can drive from the Canadian border to the Mexican border along the iconic West Coast free of charge. The new Supercharger charging stations (currently 12 on the West Coast with many more to come in the Fall) allow for a full 300 mile charge in only 20 minutes. By 2015 Tesla expects to have Supercharger charging stations covering the country.

The Narrative

New to the KMP is the news feed in the footer. I call it the Narrative for the media’s influence on the public discourse. Often the discussion is not substantive.

Driving much of the public’s perception of the Keystone XL is the media’s horse race mentality – in this case, editorial and opinion pieces often based on misinformation. To quote Marshall McLuhan, “The medium is the message.”

The most common myths being perpetuated:

  • Myth 1: The Keystone will create thousands of jobs. To the contrary, only 36 jobs will be created.(US Department of State Keystone FEIS)
  • Myth 2: Since the Keystone’s Canadian oil supplants Mideast oil, it increases energy security for the US. To the contrary, the diluted bitumen piped through the Keystone will be traded on world markets, primarily to China. (Verlager). Also, in this age of global warming where green tech is clearly the future, doubling down on fossil fuels could be interpreted as making the country less secure.
  • Myth 3: The Keystone will lower US gas prices. To the contrary, by relieving a delivery bottleneck of midwest oil to Gulf Coast refineries, the Keystone will actually increase gas prices in the midwest. (Verlager)

Other common myths are addressed in this website’s blog.

Keystone (Secret) Comments

It seems that with the Keystone XL, everything is secret – even the public comments to the Department of State’s (DOS) FEIS. You’ll have to file a FOIA request to get them.

Official comments to the DOS are due April 22 and should be sent to I’m posting a copy of my comments below. Feel free to copy your own below, as well. Alternatively (or additionally), has a convenient comments submission form here.

My comments to the DOS:


After careful review, I have found the FEIS and SEIS for the proposed Keystone XL project lacking in key data and detail that preclude a proper evaluation of the Keystone XL’s environmental impacts. Of greatest concern are the insufficiency of both the GIS routing data and spill mitigation details in the report.

Inadequate Data

Conspicuously missing from the FEIS and SEIS are the location data for the pipeline’s key landmarks, including milepost (MP) markers and waterbody crossings. Despite their absence, the MP markers are repeatedly referenced throughout both the project and DOS documents and are critical for all discussions of the pipeline route, potential environmental impacts, and surrounding points of interest.

In regards to the SEIS specifically, the GIS data contributed by the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) is inadequate for the following reasons:

  • Milepost Markers: The NDEQ report furnishes MP markers for even miles only, whereas the FEIS requires accuracy to the nearest tenth of a mile.
  • Waterbody Crossings: The NDEQ acknowledges that the Nebraska Keystone route has 163 waterbody crossings, but the NDEQ’s digital map file only contains the five largest.
  • Gas & Water Wells: The gas and water well data contained in the FEIS has not been updated to reflect the revised Nebraska route.

While all parties, including PHMSA, FERC, and all state agencies, acknowledge that the pipeline’s GIS data is public information, neither the DOS nor TransCanada will release this information. The hardcopy maps in the FEIS do not contain longitude and latitude information. TransCanada’s manager of Stakeholder Relations, Terry Cunha, has gone so far as to claim that the Keystone XL route location data is a matter of national security. If this is true, this danger has not been conveyed to the public nor acknowledged in the subject Report. The Report and the FEIS on which it relies cannot be considered suitable for public review until a complete open-source digital dataset has been made readily available at no cost.

Inadequate Spill Mitigation

The FEIS and SEIS also fail to sufficiently addresses TransCanada’s preparation for spill prevention and mitigation. It is alarming that TransCanada has yet to develop an Emergency Response Plan for the Keystone XL. A non-profit group, Plains Justice, brought these deficiencies to public attention over two years ago in their report, The Northern Great Plains at Risk: Oil Spill Planning Deficiencies in Keystone Pipeline System. Given the experience of the 2010 pipeline spill in Kalamazoo, Michigan, where cleanup costs are $1 billion and climbing, TransCanada’s $200 million third party liability insurance is grossly inadequate. Permitting should also be subject to EPA review. It would be negligent to repeat the Gulf Coast approval process, whereby USACE gave sweeping project-wide construction approval to TransCanada through a Nationwide Permit 12 and withheld waterbody crossing data until after granting their approval.

It is disturbing that TransCanada has not been required to fully disclose details of the pipeline route to the public or to document adequate emergency spill response measures. The public review process requires more accurate and complete information than have been provided to date by TransCanada, the DOS, and all state agencies regulating the pipeline.


Thomas Bachand

The Keystone Fiction

Recently, a reader asked me about an existing right-of-way visible on Google Earth that follows parts of the planned Keystone XL corridor. In some areas the projected route can be seen to directly overlay this visible right-of-way; at others it is adjacent or diverges sharply. Similar convergences and differences can also be seen in the official data. The multiple official sources I use typically align, but at times, they don’t. What accounts for this?

We can only conjecture explanations for what we are seeing:

  1. Is TransCanada following an existing easement when possible? Perhaps their leases with landowners allow them to put in multiple pipelines. Some states, like Montana, regulate pipelines stringently, others, like Oklahoma, appear to hardly regulate at all.
  2. Is TransCanada widening an existing easement?
  3. Does TransCanada only survey the route when they’re on the ground, ready to dig? The FEIS shows no survey procedures. Is the route created on a computer and no one actually steps on the ground until they show up at your property line – then they’ve got a 500 foot easement so they can adjust for real-world conditions? The regulatory disparities between various state agencies are broad and, again, the FEIS does not specify. Again, Montana stipulates surveying. Oklahoma is a black box.
  4. Are the FEIS maps and data tables accurate?
  5. All of the above.

Unfortunately, the incomplete nature of the FEIS and the opacity of the review process have made it impossible to verify the report’s veracity and determine the environmental impacts of the pipeline. The KMP primarily focuses on the absence of route data. Yet with other glaring deficiency in the FEIS coming to light, such as TransCanada’s inability to draw up an Emergency Response Plan and the paltry third-party insurance liability of $200 million, one has to wonder what else is remiss with the FEIS.

That’s the thing about environmental impact statements: initially they’re written by those with an interest in the project’s completion. They should be considered a work of fiction until proven otherwise. In the case of the Keystone XL, both the FEIS and the SEIS were produced by companies that had previously worked for TransCanada, Cardo Entrix and ERM, respectively. The Department of State is okay with this. While legal challenges can bring transparencies to an EIS, in the case of the Keystone XL Gulf Coast segment, landowner lawsuits and challenges by the Sierra Club were stymied and EPA review prevented when the US Army Corps of Engineers approved a Nationwide Permit 12 for the project.

The challenges to the Keystone XL are highlighting the business-as-usual approach to pipeline approval. The one-size-fits-all approval process does not seem to take into account the type of petroleum being transported by the Keystone, the Canadian ownership of the pipeline, nor its intended export to Asian markets.

We see this opacity being underscored in last week’s bitumen pipeline rupture in an Arkansas community. Was the community aware that they were living adjacent to a diluted bitumen pipeline? Was Exxon’s mitigation plan cleared with authorities? Why is Exxon controlling journalist access, including the airspace above the spill? Why aren’t companies transporting diluted bitumen contributing to the government’s clean-up fund, the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund?

I suppose the greater question is: why are pipeline supporters so afraid of the facts?