November 3, 2012

Another View: Oil industry doesn't tell entire story about tar sands

A column supporting use of the aging Portland pipeline ignores some real environmental risks.


I am responding to a Maine Voices column written by John Quinn, the executive director of the New England Petroleum Council and a former lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute in Vermont ("Oil sands crude not to be feared," Oct 14).

It's obvious to me that Mr. Quinn stands to profit financially if the proposed project to move hazardous tar sands through the Portland pipeline is realized. As a petroleum expert, Mr. Quinn surely knows that pushing the acidic and corrosive tar sands oil through an aging pipeline (built in 1950) at high temperatures is a recipe for disaster.

In 2010, nearly 1 million gallons of tar sands oil spilled into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan after a similarly aged pipeline ruptured.

Given that the Portland pipeline runs next to Sebago Lake (the water source for Greater Portland), and could endanger Casco Bay and our fishing and lobster industries, I do not see how Maine people stand to profit in any way from this project. The oil is not even meant for U.S. consumption. It is to be shipped overseas. This project will not reduce oil prices.

The process of mining and refining tar sands is an energy-intensive process. If we replace conventional oil with tar sands, we will be increasing our global warming pollution by 20 percent.

On the heels of a summer of scorching heat and drought in what is the breadbasket of our country, it is dangerous to be thinking of tar sands as a viable energy source.

It seems to me that our only option is to explore clean energy.

Of course, Mr. Quinn doesn't make a profit if we are to do that, but perhaps it's time for him to look into working for a different industry.

Carol Masterson is a resident of South Portland.


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