Otisfield, ME — Otisfield residents voted overwhelmingly at town meeting Saturday to pass a municipal resolution stating opposition to sending tar sands oil through ExxonMobil’s Portland-Montreal Pipeline, making it the seventh Maine town to publically and officially oppose the proposal. The 63-year-old pipeline, which stretches 236 miles from Montreal to South Portland, is being considered for the transport of tar sands, a form of toxic, thick oil that is associated with higher incidence of pipeline spills and can be nearly impossible to clean up. The pipeline stretches 6 miles through Otisfield and comes near Pleasant Lake and both Saturday and Moose Ponds.
“This is an important stand for Otisfield to take to ensure the health and viability of our community.” say Moose Pond residents Scott and Zizi Vlaun. “A tar sands oil spill in the Crooked River would be a complete disaster to our environment and tourism-based economy. As organic farmers, much of our customer base comes from visiting tourists, so it would definitely hurt our business.”
The resolution states serious concerns about the environmental and public health hazards of tar sands oil in the context of a town and region heavily dependent on a clean environment for recreation, tourism, and the economy at large. Concerns about threats to water quality also motivated the resolution.
“A tar sands oil spill in to the Crooked River would be a disaster for Maine people and wildlife,” says Lee Dassler, Executive Director of the Western Foothills Land Trust. “The Crooked River is a AA water quality river, which is supposed to be the cleanest and most protected in Maine. It also provides critical spawning habitat for Maine Landlocked Salmon. The Crooked River also provides 40% of the surface water to Sebago Lake, the drinking water supply for 1 in 7 Maine people.”
The resolution was submitted by Otisfield residents who have become increasingly opposed to tar sands oil threatening the local environment and economy. Otisfield residents collected over 100 signatures from registered Otisfield voters and worked with the town selectmen to put the resolution on the warrant for Saturday’s annual town meeting.
“I am pleased so many Otisfield residents took the time to learn the facts about tar sands oil and were not swayed by unsubstantiated industry claims,” says Jeff Stern, chair of the Otisfield Conservation Commission. “Many Otisfield residents attended panel discussions, public presentations, and movie showings to learn the facts before today’s vote. Today’s vote makes it clear that Otisfield does not want to run the risk of transporting this heavy toxic oil through our community.”
The resolution calls upon elected leaders to help ensure any tar sands pipeline proposal gets a complete environmental impact review, something that can be required by the U.S. State Department for cross-border pipelines. More than 30 towns along the pipeline have already passed similar resolutions including Raymond, Casco, Waterford, Harrison, Bridgton, and Portland.
“As a Canadian citizen and a 30 year resident of Cape Bretton, I’ve seen the emergence of the tar sands extraction rush in Alberta and the devastation it has caused across a widening expanse of the boreal forest,” says Otisfield resident Pixie Williams. “I’ve also seen the citizen resistance forming in Canada and the United States as people learn the facts about tar sands extraction and transportation. Ultimately our children and grandchildren will need to live with this pipeline in their backyards for years to come. We should not put their future at risk by sending toxic tar sands oil through the pipeline.”
“We congratulate the town and citizens of Otisfield on passing this important resolution,” says Todd Martin, Outreach Coordinator for the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “Once you learn about tar sands and pipelines, it’s not hard to see that it would be a bad deal for Maine.
A Resolution to Protect the Health and Safety of Local Citizens, Water Bodies and other Natural Resources in Relation to the Possible Transport of Tar Sands Oil through Maine
We, the citizens of Otisfield, Maine, have come to understand that the Portland-Montreal Pipeline which runs through our town is being considered for the transport of tar sands oil from Montreal to South Portland, which would be a reversal of flow and change from its original use.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that through the adoption of this resolution we oppose any change in either the flow direction or the type of product pumped for any of the current crude oil pipelines that flow through Otisfield and cross the Crooked River, its tributaries, wetlands and aquifers.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that through the adoption of this resolution, the Town of Otisfield expresses its opposition to the transport of tar sands through our town via the existing Public Utility Easement. We feel that such transport is of no benefit to Otisfield, and entails unacceptable risks to our rivers, our public health and safety, property values, recreational resources, water quality, and the pristine natural resources upon which our community depends.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that through the adoption of this resolution, the town of Otisfield calls upon the Maine State Legislature, United States Congress, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and State Department to require thorough environmental impact reviews of all tar sands pipeline proposals, including a complete evaluation of the health, safety and environmental risks.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that through the adoption of this resolution, the town of Otisfield supports the creation of clear Federal and State guidelines for tracking the chemical composition of pipeline transported fuels so that local governments, citizens, and first responders can better understand, and plan for, the risks associated with the specific type of fuel flowing through or to their communities.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that through the adoption of this resolution, the town of Otisfield encourages the State of Maine and other states in the Northeast to support policies that help develop and shift fuel use away from high impact fossil fuels such as tar sands.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that through the adoption of this resolution, the town of Otisfield will transmit a copy of this resolution to the President of the United States, U.S. Secretary of State, U.S. Secretary of Energy, U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Chair of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, Chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Maine Congressional delegation, Governors of Delaware, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont, CEO of Portland Montreal Pipeline Limited, CEO of Imperial Oil Incorporated, CEO of Exxon Mobile, CEO of Enbridge Inc., Prime Minister of Canada, the Prime Minister of Canada, the Provincial Premiers of Canada, Maine State Representative of Otisfield, the Maine State Senator representing Otisfield, and the U.S. EPA.