Big Oil has pulled a big bait and switch on the people of Maine. Either that or it has a memory problem. For more than a year, the oil industry told us that it had no plans to bring tar sands to Maine. In a November mailing to residents of South Portland, the Maine Energy Marketers Association and the Portland Pipe Line Corp. stated, “Let us be clear – there is no such project proposed, pending or imminent. In fact, recently, as a good faith measure, we took the rare step of voluntarily surrendering our final permit related to that prior proposal, as further assurance to the community we care so deeply about that there is no tar sands project.”
Now, the Maine Energy Marketers Association is back touting the supposed safety and benefit of tar sands to Maine (“Maine Voices: Science shows crude from oil sands no riskier than conventional crude,” March 3) by cherry-picking data and brushing aside massive recent tar sands spills in other communities. The op-ed comes mere days after an onslaught of full-page ads in southern Maine that claim that the dirtiest oil on earth is actually “just oil.” Their PR campaign is textbook industry re-branding.
One year later, tar sands is still all risk and no reward for Maine. Tar sands still puts at serious risk Sebago Lake, which provides drinking water for all of Greater Portland, and Casco Bay, which provides $450 million in revenue from fishing, tourism and recreation. It still sinks in water and is still far more toxic than conventional oil. It’s far from “just oil.”
Big Oil may have forgotten their promises, but none of us has.