As protesters and proponents of controversial pipeline proposals grapple with the Liberal government’s approval of two new routes from Alberta to points east and west, and rejection of a third, what can get lost in the politics is the sheer scope of the projects on the table. Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline, which the government approved with 157 conditions, winds its way from Edmonton, through two sets of mountains to Burnaby, B.C. Enbridge’s Line 3 replacement crosses 1,660 km of Canadian Prairie, from Edmonton to Gretna, Man. And the ill-fated Northern Gateway proposal, also championed by Enbridge, would have laid 1,177 km of pipeline from Bruderheim, Alta. to coastal Kitimat, B.C.
One way to understand the scale of the projects is to fly over them. We didn’t charter an airplane to make the trip, but we did the next best thing: embraced Google Earth’s flight simulator, where we plotted pipeline routes and flew over in our handy (simulated) F-16 fighter jet. Check out each flight below in its entirety (and be warned, they all run longer than 30 minutes.)