by Randy Billings, staff writer
PORTLAND â Gov. Paul LePage on Tuesday vetoed a bill that would have directed the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to study the risks associated with transporting so-called tar sands oil through the state, according to the bill’s sponsor.
The bill, L.D. 1362, was sponsored by Rep. Ben Chipman, a Portland independent.
It would have required the DEP to evaluate tar sands spills in other states, including a 2011 spill in Mayflower, Ark., Chipman said in a news release. That spill released 200,000 gallons of oil, displacing more than 20 residents and polluting the Yellowstone River, he said.
The bill was unanimously passed in the Senate, and the House approved the measure by a 97-50 vote.
Chipman said in the release that he would contact fellow legislators in an effort to secure a two-thirds majority to overturn the veto.
“Many of my constituents as well as residents throughout the state are concerned about tar sands oil, which is said to be particularly corrosive, volatile and toxic,” Chipman said in a written statement. “We need an accurate read on the potential impacts to public safety, the environment and costs of cleanup.”
Communities in Maine have passed resolutions against tar sands out of fear that Portland Pipe Line Corp. will begin transporting the oil, which opponents say is more corrosive and harder to clean up, along its pipeline, which passes by Sebago Lake â the supply for drinking water to Greater Portland â and through Portland.
The Portland City Council recently passed a resolution saying the city was “concerned” about tar sands oil.
The measure is expected to be taken up by the Legislature on Tuesday.