Published Date Written by David CarkhuffA bill that seeks to study "specific risks of transporting tar sands oil in Maine" was vetoed by Gov. Paul LePage Tuesday, after the governor called the legislation redundant.
LePage vetoed LD 1362, "Resolve, Relating to a Review of Risks Associated with Tar Sands Oil," sponsored by Portland independent Rep. Ben Chipman.
The bill would direct the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to study specific risks of transporting tar sands oil in Maine as part of an environmental study already underway and to provide a briefing of its findings.
The debate over possible transport of "tar sands" oil from Montreal, Canada to South Portland has stirred up a variety of environmental concerns. In March, during a public forum in South Portland about possible transport of "tar sands" — also known as bitumen — through a pipeline in Maine, the CEO of the Portland Pipe Line Corporation hinted that his company's future is 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 are in play for any new pipeline "opportunities."
Chipman said his bill would allow for the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, which Chipman serves on, to put forward a bill next year based on the results of the required study. As the session winds down, Chipman vowed to fight for an override vote of the governor's veto.
"I will be contacting as many of my colleagues as possible between now and next Tuesday to build support for the two-thirds vote necessary to override this veto. All we need are four more votes than we got when the bill passed in the House," Chipman said in a press release.
LePage's veto message from Tuesday stated that the Department of Environmental Protection is already investigating transportation of tar sands "and going beyond the scope of the bill to develop spill response plans to ensure that the impacts of a potential spill in Maine will be minimized."
The governor said Chipman's bill "directs the department to undertake work duplicative of work already ongoing, in effect, treating the department like a research group for the Legislature. This is another example of unnecessary lawmaking. In fact, the Department's initial study efforts resulted in a comprehensive 325-page report, to which the public has access."
Chipman noted that LD 1362 originally passed with strong support in the House with a vote of 97-50 and passed unanimously in the Senate. Now LD 1362 will go back to the Legislature for a veto override decision on Tuesday.