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Keystone's potential path runs through large sections of rural landscape with few inhabitants

Daryl Swenson’s cattle graze south of Oyen, Alta. on April 22, 2013. The Swenson family has lived and farmed in the area for a century, spending its first winter in a covered wagon. Mr. Swenson was one of five negotiators who represented a large number of Alberta and Saskatchewan ranchers, and persuaded TransCanada Corp. to pay landholders 10 times its initial offer to build the Keystone and Keystone XL pipelines.Nathan VanderKlippe/The Globe and Mail

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A plains bison walks through Grasslands National Park on April 23, 2013. Bison reintroduced to the park in 2006 have flourished.Nathan VanderKlippe/The Globe and Mail

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Black-tailed prairie dogs populate a “dog town” in Grasslands National Park on April 23, 2013.Nathan VanderKlippe/The Globe and Mail

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Tumbleweed, barbed wire and a 1980s-era natural gas compressor station mark the spot on the Saskatchewan-Montana border where the Keystone XL pipeline route crosses. into the U.S. on April 23, 2013. This spot has been central to the debate over Keystone XL, since the border crossing has necessitated the lengthy review in the U.S. by the Department of State and the White House.Nathan VanderKlippe/The Globe and Mail

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The open plains of northern Montana provide a home for grazing cattle on April 23, 2013. Few people live at the top of the state, along the first stretches of the Keystone XL route in the U.S.Nathan VanderKlippe/The Globe and Mail

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Oil money has made Baker High School in Baker, Mont., so rich that it has built a large new football facility for its 120 students.Nathan VanderKlippe/The Globe and Mail

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Some 15,000 pieces of pipe for TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL pipeline lie in a field in North Dakota on April 23, 2013.Nathan VanderKlippe/The Globe and Mail

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The Gascoyne pipe yard in North Dakota holds 350 kilometres of pipe, nearly a third of Keystone XL’s route from Hardisty, Alta. to Steele City, Neb.Nathan VanderKlippe/The Globe and Mail

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