Congresswoman Chellie Pingree spoke to over 1,000 protestors who rallied in Portland today to oppose the idea of pumping tar sands oil through a pipeline that passes near Sebago Lake. At issue is a potential proposal to reverse the flow of a pipeline that stretches from Portland Harbor to the Canadian border. Currently the pipeline carries crude oil from ships that dock in South Portland to refineries in Canada, but if the pipeline is reversed then tar sands crude that is being extracted in Canada could beshipped through Maine.
"Reversing the flow of the Portland Pipeline so tar sands oil can be delivered to Portland Harbor would pose some serious environmental risks and on behalf of my constituents in Maine I am going to ask the Obama Administration to do a full environmental review of any attempts to pump tar sands through that pipeline," Pingree told the crowd.
Because the 236-mile pipeline is already in operation, proponents say little additional environmental review is required. The current pipeline has a Presidential Permit, which is required when a pipeline crosses a U.S. border. But Pingree argues that reversing the flow and pumping the tar sands oil, which is muchmore corrosive and is pumped at higher pressure, would constitute a change of use and require a new Presidential Permit.
"Let's just say here and now that Exxon Mobile shouldn't be allowed to go ahead with this risky scheme without a Presidential Permit and I don't believe the facts will support one," Pingree said.
Pingree said she intends to ask the Obama Administration to require a new Presidential Permit and conduct a full environmental impact study of any proposal to pump tar sands oil through the Portland Pipeline, including an examination of the effects of tar sands oil on global warming.
The pipeline passes near Sebago Lake, the source of drinking water for the Greater Portland area.