March 12, 2013

Portland-area residents: No tar-sands pipeline

By Tux Turkel tturkel@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Residents from around the Portland area gather at a workshop Monday to learn more about transporting the heavy crude known as tar-sands oil. Many made clear they don’t want a pipeline to move the oil through their communities.

Gordon Chibroski / Staff Photographer

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Frederick Lancaster of South Portland was one of many residents Monday at the South Portland Community Center who spoke against a tar-sands oil pipeline.

Gordon Chibroski / Staff Photographer

Additional Photos Below

John Quinn, executive director of the New England Petroleum Council, called out Voorhees for failing to mention the positive findings of the recent draft environmental impact statement on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would connect Alberta and Gulf Coast ports.

The U.S. State Department noted that tar-sands oil is the same as conventional crude, and any risk of spills would be rare and small.

Quinn's comments touched off catcalls from the audience, leading South Portland Mayor Tom Blake to ask the crowd to show respect for the speakers.

Quinn also told participants that 70 percent of Maine's gasoline comes from a refinery in Saint John, New Brunswick. If they drove to the workshop, he said, chances are their cars ran on tar-sands oil.

Following Quinn, pipeline officials laid out how they now safely handle, monitor and test oil that flows through the pipeline. Tar-sands oil would be no different, they said.

Larry Wilson, the company's president, said that with market conditions in flux, the company must pursue new opportunities. He vowed to keep the community informed about any changes that might be pending.

When it came time for questions, a line of 40 people formed behind the podium. Most had misgivings, both global and local, about tar-sands oil.

Frederick Lancaster of South Portland spoke of the world's coming climate crisis and the need to move beyond petroleum. Bob Foster of South Portland agreed, and worried about an oil spill hurting the city's waterfront.

Among the few voicing other opinions was Bill Van Voorhis of South Portland, supervisor of rigging and marine operations for Cianbro Corp. Van Voorhis said he has worked on inspection projects and other jobs involving Portland Pipe Line. The company has the strictest safety practices in Portland Harbor, he said, and he's confident that it can move tar-sands oil safely.

Monday's forum won't lead to any immediate action by the City Council.

Similar meetings have led to a series of votes along the pipeline's path. Voters in Casco, Bethel and Waterford have approved resolutions opposing the transport of tar-sands crude through their communities.

In Raymond, however, selectmen voted 3-2 last week against a resolution meant to tighten the federal government's environmental review of tar-sands oil transportation. The matter is expected to come up again in April, as the town gets more information.

Tux Turkel can be contacted at 791-6462 or at:

tturkel@pressherald.com

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Additional Photos

20130311_OilSands
click image to enlarge

Participants line up to speak at a workshop about transporting tar-sands oil.

Gordon Chibroski / Staff Photographer

  


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