Published Date Written by Craig LyonsU.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree plans to ask President Obama to order a review and require a new permit for the Portland Pipeline if tar sands are going to be shipped through the line from Montreal to Casco Bay.
Pingree said moving tar sands through the pipeline would pose severe environmental risks to Maine. Pingree's request would require the pipeline to receive a new presidential permit — which allows the line's owners to transport oil across the Canadian border — and a full environmental impact study.
Pingree, Portland Mayor Michael Brennan and a host of other speakers joined more than 1,000 protestors on the Maine State Pier on Saturday to speak out against tar sands oil. Many of the remarks centered on the danger tar sands would pose to the environment in the Northeast should the substance get shipped through the Portland to Montreal Pipeline.
Pingree said if there's a desire to use the Portland pipeline for tar sands, the plans should be required to receive a new presidential permit and environmental review.
"I don't believe the facts will support one," she said.
Dylan Voorhees, of the Natural Resource Council of Maine, said the pipeline currently moves crude oil from Portland Harbor to Montreal. In Alberta, Canada, he said companies are digging tar sands out of the ground and trying to find a way to get it out of Canada and onto the global market.
Voorhees said the executives at the pipelines have denied having "active plans" to pump tar sands from Canada to South Portland.
"That's like saying I don't have active plans for dinner," he said.
The companies behind the pipelines that cross Canada and the Portland to Montreal Pipeline have denied having intentions to ship tar sands through the system.
Emily Figdor, director of Environment Maine, said the oil companies think that they can ignore the people speaking out against tar sands.
"Big oil has another thing coming," she said. We do matter, we do exist."
Brennan said people's voices are needed so their elected officials stand up to the oil companies and block the transmission of tar sands through the pipeline. He said elected officials need to know that people want the country to move away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy.
"The future is not tar sands," he said.