PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — On Thursday afternoon, the Canadian National Energy Board ruled in favor of a project that will allow tar sands oil to flow east from Alberta Provence to Montreal, Quebec.
Environmental groups in Maine believe the decision paves the way for energy companies to seek to have tar sands oil flow from Canada to Casco Bay via the Portland Montreal Pipeline.
“Up until this point, the line that comes from Alberta down towards the New England border has not been able to carry tar sands,” explained Lisa Pohlmann, executive director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “So it is literally now at our doorstep.”
While environmentalists believe the operators of the Portland Montreal Pipeline will now push to reverse its flow and pump tar sands oil onto ships docked in South Portland, and on to refineries around the world, a company spokesman says that is not the case.
“Portland Pipe Line Corporation’s previously stated position that there is no project to reverse the flow of its pipeline proposed, pending or imminent is unaffected by announcements regarding other Canadian pipelines,” wrote Portland Montreal Pipeline Corporation spokesman, Jim Merrill, in a brief statement to NEWS CENTER.
Regardless of the company’s stated position, Pohlmann and others believe this decision poses a much bigger threat that tar sands will ultimately be brought to Maine.
“We really need to take this latest move seriously,” said Pohlmann.
She is urging Mainers to contact Senator Susan Collins, the only member of Maine’s congressional delegation that has not called upon the State Department to do a full environmental review were the pipeline company seek permits to move tar sands through Maine.
Pohlmann says the review will expose the environmental threat tar sands pose to the state and the region, and hopefully provide enough evidence to prevent it from happening.