Published Date Written by David Carkhuff
Two anti-Keystone XL pipeline protesters were arrested Wednesday after they used bicycle locks to lock themselves to the outside door of TD Bank at 481 Congress St. in Portland.
Elizabeth Catlin, 23, of Brunswick; and Uriah Schlotterbeck, 30, of Auburn, were arrested for criminal trespassing and criminal mischief, according to Major Don Krier with the Portland Police Department's patrol division.
"They had Kryptonite bicycle locks, the U-shaped bicycle locks, around their necks and secured themselves to the door handles of the bank," Krier said.
"They didn't want to talk about keys, so we ended up taking apart the door handle and cutting off the last piece of metal with a bolt cutter," Krier said.
Neither suspect resisted arrest once freed, Krier added.
"They were very peaceful about it," he said.
The protest began around noon Wednesday, and it took about an hour and 20 minutes to secure their removal, Krier estimated. Both individuals face misdemeanor-level charges, with a maximum penalty of up to six months in jail for each charge, Krier said. The suspects were brought to the Cumberland County Jail for processing.
A group calling itself Maine Trans and/or Women's Action Team — or Maine TWAT — issued a press release Wednesday saying the effort to block the entrance to TD Bank was to "protest the start date of the Southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline." The group asserted that TD Bank "is one of the biggest investors in the pipeline, which now carries tar sands oil to refineries in Port Arthur and Houston, Texas."
Police strung yellow police tape outside the bank to secure the scene while officers worked to remove the protesters.
The Keystone XL Pipeline Project, according to TransCanada's website (http://keystone-xl.com/about/the-project/#sthash.0X9nQf7m.dpuf), "is a proposed 1,179-mile (1,897 km), 36-inch-diameter crude oil pipeline, beginning in Hardisty, Alta., and extending south to Steele City, Neb. In May, 2012, TransCanada filed a new application for a Presidential Permit with the U.S. Department of State, a requirement for building any cross-border pipeline. TransCanada also chose to proceed with the southern portion of its Keystone expansion as a separate project, the Gulf Coast Pipeline Project."
According to TransCanada, "on March 1, 2013, the U.S. Department of State released a Draft Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement (Draft SEIS) on Keystone XL that reaffirmed 'there would be no significant impacts to most resources along the proposed Project route.' ... The pipeline will have capacity to transport 830,000 barrels of oil per day to Gulf Coast and Midwest refineries, reducing American dependence on oil from Venezuela and the Middle East by up to 40 per cent."
On Wednesday night, Davis Sheremata, external communications and media relations spokesman for TransCanada Corporation, told The Daily Sun, "I would like to point out that crude oil is currently transported by truck, train and pipeline, with pipelines being by far the safest mode of transportation, according to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics."
Sheremata also said TransCanada Corporation's construction standards "are the highest in the industry, and we have an industry-leading safety record to prove it. In 2012 alone, TransCanada invested $1 billion in our infrastructure safety and integrity program, which includes proactive inspection and maintenance programs to protect our pipelines and energy facilities. During our more than 60 years of operation, we have earned a reputation for delivering energy safely and efficiently."
He added, in response to protests against the Keystone XL project, that "four federal environmental reviews in the past five years have all shown that Keystone XL will have a limited impact on environmental resources along the entire route — and with no substantial impact on global greenhouse gas emissions."
Americans continue to support the project, according to polls, Sheremata said.
Opponents of the controversial pipeline charged that Keystone XL would threaten the environment and endanger communities.
"For the past three years East Texans have built a grassroots movement opposing the Keystone XL Pipeline South," wrote a group from Nacogdoches, Texas called NacSTOP (Nacogdoches County Stop Tar Sands Oil Permanently).
On Wednesday, the group announced plans to "peacefully demonstrate their opposition to the official startup of the pipeline with an Autonomous Light Brigade" in coordination with the start date for the southern extent of the pipeline.
The protest in Portland aimed to show solidarity "with the communities near tar sands extraction, along the southern route of the KXL pipeline," Maine TWAT reported in its press release.
TransCanada, according to its website, "owns or has interests in $48 billion of long-life assets — primarily pipelines and power-generation facilities — in Canada, the United States and Mexico."
The issue of "tar sands" oil erupted in Maine last year with discussion of another pipeline.
The debate over possible transport of "tar sands" oil from Montreal, Canada to South Portland stirred up a variety of environmental concerns, while an economic debate emerged as well.
In March 2013, during a public forum in South Portland about possible transport of "tar sands" — also known as bitumen — through the pipeline in Maine, the CEO of the Portland Pipe Line Corporation hinted that his company's future was at stake in this debate. Larry Wilson, head of the South Portland-based company that owns the pipeline that passes through Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont en route to Canada, said economic considerations were in play for any new pipeline "opportunities."
This Wednesday, the South Portland City Council was scheduled to take up Order No. 95-13/14 — Appointing a Draft Ordinance Committee to address development proposals involving oil sands/tar sands products.
According to the city: "As part of the process of establishing an ordinance to address development proposals involving oil sands/tar sands products, the City Council is creating a Draft Ordinance Committee consisting of three members to conduct this work. An application was developed and posted on the city's website for interested persons to apply to be a member of this committee. The City Clerk received applications from the following individuals: Carly M. Andersen, Biddeford; Michael J. Conathan, South Portland; David Critchfield, South Portland; Orlando E. Delogu, Portland; Cynthia Dill, Cape Elizabeth; Karen Lewis, South Portland; Russell B. Pierce, Jr., Portland; Portland Malcolm Poole, Scarborough (Business in South Portland); Eben Rose, South Portland; Eliot H. Stanley, Portland; Peter Stanton, South Portland; and Carol Thorne, South Portland." On Jan. 13, the council agreed to choose the three committee members by having each councilor rank the applicants from one to 12.
Previously, the South Portland City Council had voted 6-1 to enact Ordinance No. 2-13/14, a 180-day moratorium "on development proposals involving the loading of oil sands/tar sands products onto marine tank vessels docking in South Portland."
The moratorium followed an unsuccessful bid to ban "tar sands" oil from South Portland.
The ordinance language reads: "On November 5, 2013, the citizen-initiated Waterfront Protection Ordinance was defeated by a vote of 4,453 against the ordinance to 4,261 in favor of the ordinance. The next day, the City Council held a special workshop meeting to consider a proposed moratorium on development proposals involving the loading of oil sands/tar sands products onto marine tank vessels docking in South Portland. The City Council reviewed a second draft of the proposed moratorium ordinance at its November 13, 2013 workshop meeting. The Corporation Counsel has clarified the term synthetic crude as used in the ordinance as a result of the November 13 workshop. Note that the term 'oil sands/tar sands products' is a defined term in the proposed moratorium ordinance, and it means petroleum products derived from oil sands/tar sands that are still in an unrefined state, including bitumen, diluted bitumen, synthetic crude, synbit and dilsynbit. ..."
The ordinance language continued, "This moratorium ordinance is brought forward to impose a moratorium that, if enacted, would provide the City Council with time to study oil sands/tar sands products and related issues and to develop any appropriate ordinance amendments to address development proposals involving the loading of oil sands/tar sands products onto marine tank vessels docking in South Portland."
The moratorium expires no later than May 5.
Protect South Portland remains active with events focusing on "tar sands" oil.
An event titled "Tar Sands Exposed: Exploring the Human and Environmental Costs" is planned this month. Protect South Portland announced that on Friday, Jan. 31, at 6:30 p.m. the public can attend an event from opponents of "tar sands" oil and related pipelines, at Hannaford Hall, University of Southern Maine, 88 Bedford St., Portland. For details, visit http://www.350maine.org.