Politics

July 3, 2013

LePage vetoes study of tar sands oil

The bill calls for an examination of the risks of piping the controversial oil through the state.

By Randy Billings rbillings@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND — Gov. Paul Le-Page has vetoed a bill that would direct the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to study the risks associated with transporting so-called tar sands oil through the state, according to the bill's sponsor.

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Concerned Citizens of South Portland held a news conference last month after collecting 3,779 signatures to get a referendum on the ballot to try to block the flow of so-called tar sands oil through the city.

2013 Press Herald File Photo / John Patriquin

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The bill, L.D. 1362, is sponsored by independent Rep. Ben Chipman of Portland. It would require the DEP to evaluate tar sands spills in other states, including a spill in Mayflower, Ark., Chipman said in a news release. That spill in 2011 released 200,000 gallons of oil, displacing more than 20 residents and polluting the Yellowstone River, he said.

The bill passed unanimously in the Senate, and the House approved it by a 97-50 vote.

Chipman said in the release he will contact fellow legislators to try to secure two-thirds majorities in the House and Senate to overturn the veto next week.

"Many of my constituents as well as residents throughout the state are concerned about tar sands oil, which is said to be particularly corrosive, volatile and toxic," Chipman said. "We need an accurate read on the potential impacts to public safety, the environment and costs of cleanup."

Communities in Maine have passed resolutions against tar sands, fearing that Portland Pipe Line Corp. will begin transporting the oil along its pipeline, which passes by Sebago Lake on its way to Portland Harbor.

The Portland City Council recently passed a resolution saying the city is "concerned" about tar sands oil.

The veto is expected to be taken up by the Legislature on Tuesday.

Randy Billings can be contacted at 791-6346 or at:

rbillings@pressherald.com

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