Canada’s National Energy Board (NEB) today announced its approval of pipeline giant Enbridge’s plan to reverse its Canadian Line 9 pipeline to bring tar sands east to Montreal. In doing so, the Canadian government has opened the way for toxic tar sands to come to Vermont.
This comes only two days after 13 towns on and near the pipeline’s route in Vermont, as well as from other corners of the state, passed resolutions at Town Meeting stating opposition to tar sands transport here.
The Exxon-owned Portland Pipe Line Corporation that controls the 63-year-old Portland-Montreal Pipeline, which currently transports lighter crude from Portland, Maine, northward through Vermont to Montreal, has expressed interest in receiving tar sands from Enbridge to transport this heavy crude from Montreal to Portland along its aging pipeline.
“Vermonters have already loudly signaled opposition to transporting tar sands across our rivers and farms, alongside lakes, and through communities of the Northeast Kingdom,” said Jim Murphy, National Wildlife Federation Senior Counsel. “A spill would have a devastating impact on our water supplies, wildlife habitat and tourism industry. And any transport of tar sands through Vermont would encourage growth of an industry that contradicts all of our state’s leadership and hard work on moving toward cleaner sources of energy.”
Citizens in Quebec and Ontario strongly opposed sending tar sands through their communities and watersheds, too – but they were steamrolled by tar sands corporate interests and complicit Canadian officials.
“It is time to send a clear message that tar sands growth stops here,” said Johanna Miller, Energy Program Director at Vermont Natural Resources Council. “In the wake of this Canadian decision, it is crucial that the State Department make it clear that a Presidential Permit, accompanied by a full environmental impact study, be required before oil companies take one more step toward using Vermont as a highway for the dirtiest oil on the planet.”
Miller added that the more routes are blocked, the longer it will take to develop one of the world’s dirtiest sources of fuel, and likely the more expensive and difficult it will be to do so. “It’s not a certainty that this resource will be developed, and for the sake of our climate and future, it must not be,” she said. “Vermont can play a meaningful role in this.”
In order to bring tar sands through Vermont and Northern New England, it is likely Portland Pipe Line Corporation would require approval from the U.S. State Department. Pursuant to a September 2013 ruling from the Act 250 District Commissioner in St. Johnsbury, the company would also need an Act 250 permit.
”Our leaders – Gov. Peter Shumlin, Sens. Peter Leahy and Bernie Sanders, and Rep. Peter Welch – have been strong allies in the fight against toxic tar sands oil,” said Ben Walsh, Clean Energy Advocate at VPIRG. “We call on them once again to stand up for Vermonters, and make sure the federal government gives any tar sands project the scrutiny we deserve.”
The 13 towns – three of them crossed by the pipeline – that passed resolutions aimed at keeping Vermont tar sands free on Tuesday joined 29 towns that did so last year. “Communities in the Northeast Kingdom and others statewide are making a powerful statement about the depth of Vermonters’ opposition to this dirty fuel,” said Jade Walker of organizing group 350 Vermont. “Transporting tar sands through the Portland-Montreal pipeline would be all risks and no benefits for Vermont.”
“The continued devastation of climate change demands that we keep tar sands oil in the ground and out of Vermont,” said Sandra Levine with the Conservation Law Foundation. “This decision brings tar sands oil one step closer to Vermont, but Vermonters are committed to using every tool available, including Act 250, to stop tar sands in its tracks.”
Jim Murphy, National Wildlife Federation: email@example.com, 802-595-5268
Johanna Miller, Vermont Natural Resources Council: firstname.lastname@example.org, 802-223-2328 ext. 112
Jade Walker, 350 Vermont: email@example.com, 215-939-2386
Ben Walsh, VPIRG: firstname.lastname@example.org, 802-734-7680
Sandra Levine, Conservation Law Foundation: email@example.com, 802-249-2607
Greg MacDonald, Sierra Club Vermont: firstname.lastname@example.org, 802-751-5460
Danielle Droitsch, NRDC: email@example.com: 802-513-6243