After patching two flat tires, I’ve made it just outside Cushing, OK, the begining of the so-called Southern leg of the Keystone XL. The town of Cushing has been dubbed the “pipeline crossroads of the world.” What is apparent while walking through Cushing is the sea of tank farms surrounding the entire town in an apocalyptic hug.
My first night in, I camp out on the lawn of Sherman and Anisa, just on the outskirts of town. Sherman works in the oil fields servicing wells and Anisa is a graphic artist. Anisa tells me the tank farms have been encroaching on her family’s land for years and there’s always rumors that they will just keep coming.
While I visit, the two are in the process of remodeling the old farmhouse that was bulit in 1889. The couple says they are not sure how much work they should put into renovations…if the tank farms do continue to expand, the land will be condemned and they will be forced to relocate. From where I’m camped in the backyard, the tanks sit just a mile and half north of the property.
When I ask Anisa if it’s a concern she says she’s seen it happen before; rows of houses bulldozed to make way for progress.
"Where they are at right now, that whole road used to have houses on it and now they are all gone. I can’t even go down that road anymore, it’s sad."
When I ask her what her biggest fear is she says, “It’s the fact of not being on your family’s land anymore, where you’ve grown-up and lived your whole life, you know, losing that. Of course you will always have your memories, but that’s really not the same.”
In anticpation of the influx of thousands of barrels per day of tar sands oil from the North via the Keystone XL, construction of tanks is ever increasing on the horizon.
"I understand it’s(oil) important, but sometimes I think people don’t realize how it effects people that have been here their whole life. Progress is good, usually, but there’s always a downside to that too."