MONTPELIER, Vt. — The owner of a crude oil pipeline that runs between Maine and Montreal is asking Vermont environmental regulators to reconsider a ruling that would require a new review under the state’s land-use planning law if the company seeks to move Canadian tar sands oil to Portland for possible shipment to markets across the world.
In its motion to reconsider, the Portland-Montreal Pipeline Corp. Pipeline said the coordinator of the District 7 Environmental Commission, who issued the ruling last month, got the facts wrong that she used to reach her conclusion that any effort to reverse the flow would represent a significant change that would require it to be reviewed by the state’s land use development law, Act. 250.
A review under Act 250 could take several years and it could involve many landowners along the path of the pipeline.
Currently the pipeline is used to carry foreign crude oil from Maine to Montreal where it is refined for consumption in eastern Canada. Some environmentalists have warned the flow of the pipeline could be reversed to carry heavy tar sands oil that had been transported from Alberta east to Montreal and then through the pipeline that runs through Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine for export.
Environmentalists say the threat from tar sands oil is greater than from lighter forms of crude, both because of the dangers of spills and that tar sands oil produces more greenhouses gases, which are blamed for global warming.
Portland Pipeline officials say there are no plans to carry tar sands oil in the pipeline, but they would welcome new uses for the pipeline and they say tar sands oil can be transported safely.
“PPLC plans to continue to safely operate the Pipeline System going forward as it has done for over 70 years, and is open to appropriate options to more fully use its valuable pipeline system asset,” the document said. “PPLC is not, however, giving any preference to “tar sands oil” over other petroleum products and does not have current, specific plans to transport ‘tar sands oil’ through its pipeline system.”