by Susan Sharon
MPBN news story
Hundreds of people rallied on the Portland waterfront Saturday in what was billed as the largest protest yet against a possible plan to pipe tar sands oil from Canada through Vermont and New Hampshire into Maine. As Maine Public Radio’s Susan Sharon reports, activists want the federal government to order a full assessment of any future project.
Critics of tar sands oil say it’s heavier and more corrosive than traditional crude. And because it needs to be pumped at high pressure and diluted with chemicals they worry about the potential for a spill.
The Portland Montreal Pipe Line Company already has a presidential permit that allows for the transportation of oil across the U.S.-Canadian border, but it does not specify tar sands oil. Maine 1st District Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat, says she’ll ask the Obama administration to require a new permit application and a full environmental review before tar sands oil is allowed to be shipped.
“Let’s just say here and now that Exxon Mobile shouldn’t be allowed to go ahead with a risky scheme without a presidential permit, and I don’t believe the facts will support one,” Pingree told the crowd.
The president of the Portland Montreal Pipe Line Co. says there are no current plans to bring tar sands oil to Maine, but he says that could be a future option and it can be done safely. The New England Petroleum Council says tar sands oil is no more dangerous or dirty than conventional crude oil.