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Whilst the Keystone XL pipeline does not make headlines quite as often as it used to, the debate about whether it should be built or not still rages on in the background.
Kinder Baumgarder, the creative director at the SWA Group, the architectural firm that designed Google’s corporate campus, believes that he has a plan that will calm emotions and make people more open to the idea of the pipe.
The SWA Group suggests building a bike lane along the entire length of the pipeline that they claim would become a tourist attraction and turn a controversial eyesore into a thing of beauty.
According to Bloomberg, on the 17th of October Baumgardner sent a letter to the State Department, and one to TransCanada Corp., explaining his idea, and showing illustrations of happy cyclists travelling along the trail, through Middle America, surrounded by history, culture, and nature.
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Baumgardener claims that the Keystone XL debate had managed to divide opinion at SWA Group, with many in the Texas office supporting it, and those in the California office opposed. He decided to focus his team by asking them: “If it was built, how could you make it better for the population?”
In recent years, as people become more aware of the environment and humanities impact upon it, local governments and officials have worked harder to try and turn eyesores into attractions.
In Texas, SWA is trying to build bike paths under power lines, and it has already created the Buffalo Bayou from a polluted waterway in Houston.
A bike lane along the Keystone XL pipeline, which will stretch 1,300 miles and carry crude oil from the oil sands of Alberta to refineries along the Gulf of Mexico, would be on a much larger scale to other projects.
The idea hasn’t been greeted with the enthusiasm that Baumgardener was perhaps hoping for.
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Jane Kleeb, the executive director of Bold Nebraska, an environmental activist group against the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, said, “I think it’s ridiculous. Why would anyone who cares about the environment want to ride on top of a pipeline that ruins the environment? The person who developed this is so out of touch with reality.”
And even Shawn Howard, a spokesman for TransCanada, said that, “to make sure we can maintain or access the pipeline, permanent structures couldn’t be built in the easement. We do not own the land that the pipeline easement is for.”
Baumgardner estimates that the entire project, including the construction of the bike lane, facilities along the route, the team of designers, cultural experts, economists, and engineers needed to develop the project, would cost $400 million.
By. Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com
Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com