I am writing in support of a policy currently being considered by the Portland City Council that would direct the city to only purchase and use fuel for city-owned vehicles that come from oil refineries that do not process tar sands. The tar sands policy is part of a larger environmental performance policy being considered by the council.

If passed, Portland would be one of the first cities in the country to say no to tar sands and would start to cut off the market for tar sands in the Northeast. More than 1,800 signatures in support of the policy were collected in November 2012.

Tar-sands oil is one of the dirtiest forms of energy in the world. Mined out of the ground in Alberta, the tar sands extraction and refinement process is destroying the boreal forest and the health of area residents and wildlife.

Right now, ExxonMobil and Enbridge, two of the largest oil companies in the world, want to pump tar-sands oil from Montreal through a 62-year-old pipeline to Portland for export to global markets. Tar-sands oil is more corrosive to pipelines than conventional oil. The existing pipeline in Maine passes within 1,000 feet of Sebago Lake, the drinking water supply for the greater Portland area. I am very concerned that oil from a broken pipeline would spill into the Sebago Lake watershed or Casco Bay. I urge the City Council to pass this tar-sands policy.

David A. Cobb