A man hoping to walk the planned 1,700-mile route of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline has made his way to Nebraska, according to the Lincoln Journal Star.
Ken Ilgunas, 29, began his walking trip near oil sands crude production sites in Alberta and has been traveling 15 to 20 miles a day, according to the Journal Star.
Ilgunas, of Niagara Falls, N.Y., said he was walking because of his concern about climate change and the potential impact of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline on the environment, the newspaper reported.
“I thought this walk would help me understand the issue better,” he told the newspaper.
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His take on his starting point, the oil sands of Alberta, underscores his concern.
“When you see devastation from one edge of the horizon to the other, nothing but black and dirt and Armageddon tailings ponds, you change your mind pretty quickly about what the pipeline means.”
Keystone XL is meant to transport oil sands crude, or diluted bitumen, from Canada to the Texas coast. Bitumen is a solid, hydrocarbon-bearing material produced from oil sands that must be diluted and heated to move through pipelines.
Pipeline opponents argue that oil sands crude is especially dirty to produce and difficult to clean up when spilled because it contains heavier components that can sink in water and cause extended environmental damage.
TransCanada, which does not produce the oil that will move through the pipeline, says its Keystone XL project will be the safest pipeline ever built.
The company has begun construction of the southern portion of the pipeline, from Cushing, Okla., to the Texas coast, but has been met with opposition from environmental activists and landowners along the way.
Construction of the northern portion of Keystone XL has been delayed because the Obama administration denied a cross-border permit for the pipeline. The administration is widely expected to approve the pipeline after encouraging some route adjustments from TransCanada to move it away from an aquifer in Nebraska.
Ilgunas said he expects to make it to the Texas coast in February.