In Stand Against Big Oil, Small Maine City Moves to Ban Tar Sands

Link to original article from Common Dreams.

Coastal Maine residents are pushing to formally prohibit tar sands from being shipped from their port

by Sarah Lazare, staff writer

Standing ovation for the South Portland Draft Ordinance Committee as it unveils plan to block tar sands Wednesday, June 25. (Photo: Environment Maine)

Residents of a small city in coastal Maine are pushing to formally ban Big Oil’s plans to pump tar sands through their community, and they’re pretty sure they’re going to win.

Over 200 people wearing matching sky-blue tee-shirts flooded a city council meeting in South Portland on Wednesday night to cheer a presentation on a proposed ordinance that would prohibit the bulk loading of crude oil—including tar sands—as well as new infrastructure for such purposes within city limits.

Backers of the legislation, known as the Clear Skies Ordinance, say tar sands transport through their city would devastate their waterfront, unleash toxic air pollution, and risk dangerous spills.

And they have reason to worry.

South Portland is the starting point for the 236-mile long “Portland-Montreal Pipeline” which is majority-owned by Exxon-Mobil. The pipeline is critical to move Canadian tar sands to a major port for loading on oil tankers for export. Canadian pipeline company Enbridgeappears to be moving forward with plans to pump tar sands, via their Canadian Line 9 pipeline, through New England to South Portland’s Casco Bay, where the oil would then be exported to global markets.

According to Environment Maine, the Portland-Montreal Pipeline is also central to the Energy East pipeline, proposed by Canadian company Transcanada, that would pump 1.1 million barrels of tar sands daily from Quebec to New Brunswick,

“The threat is not abstract,” said Taryn Hallweaver of Environment Maine in an interview with Common Dreams. “Tar sands oil will flow to Montreal as early as this summer for the first time ever, right at New England’s doorstep.”

Oil extracted from tar sands, also referred to as bitumen, is one of the world’s dirtiest fossil fuels, producing up to five times more carbon than conventional crude oil. The extraction process is extremely energy-intensive and destructive to ecosystems and creates large reservoirs of dangerous waste.

The Clear Skies Ordinance to block tar sands emerged from a six-month-long public process launched by South Portland’s City Council. It was drafted by a committee of appointed land-use experts and is slated for further consideration by the city council and planning board, with a vote slated for late-July.

It follows the narrow defeat last year of a South Portland effort to block a future tar sands terminal after the oil industry poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into a campaign to squash the protective measure.

Robert Selling of Protect South Portland told Common Dreams that he is “extremely hopeful” that this ordinance. He emphasized that the draft ordinance was met with “enthusiastic response” and “standing ovations” at Wednesday’s meeting.

“I think it’s going to be a model for other communities,” he said.

Pipeline map Image courtesy of EcoWatch

 

While America Spars Over Keystone XL, A Vast Network of Pipelines is Quietly Being Approved

BY KATIE VALENTINE ON MARCH 20, 2014   ClimateProgress

After countless marches, arrests, Congressional votes, and editorials, the five-and-a-half year battle over the controversial Keystone XL pipeline is nearing its end. If a recent ruling in Nebraska doesn’t delay the decision further, America could find out as soon as this spring whether or not the pipeline, which has become a focal point in America’s environmental movement, will be built.

But while critics and proponents of Keystone XL have sparred over the last few years, numerous pipelines — many of them slated to carry the same Canadian tar sands crude as Keystone — have been proposed, permitted, and even seen construction begin in the U.S. and Canada. Some rival Keystone XL in size and capacity; others, when linked up with existing and planned pipelines, would carry more oil than the 1,179-mile pipeline.

Read More: http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/03/20/3254081/pipelines-you-havent-heard-of/#

 

TransCanada pitches west-east pipeline

Proposed project would bring crude to refineries in Quebec, Saint John

Link to Article with Videos

CBC News | Apr 2, 2013 9:28 AM ET 

TransCanada Corp. is seeking firm financial commitments from companies seeking to ship crude oil from Western Canada to refineries in Eastern Canada.

The Calgary-based company announced on Tuesday morning a bidding process that will allow interested producers to make binding commitments for space on the pipeline. Companies will have from April 15 to June 17 to enter into long-term commitments to use the pipeline.

The open-season process follows a successful expression-of-interest phase and talks with potential shippers.

TransCanada said if the next phase is successful, it plans to start seeking regulatory approvals later in 2013, and the oil could start flowing to Eastern Canada by late 2017.

The proposal would be to convert 3,000 kilometres of the company’s natural gas pipelines to allow for crude oil to be transported. The company would also be looking at building 1,400 kilometres of new pipeline from Quebec into Saint John.

The pipeline could carry between 500,000 and 850,000 barrels of crude oil per day from Alberta and Saskatchewan to the eastern refineries, according to the company.

Premier David Alward called the west-east pipeline proposal an historic initiative. Alward made the comments in front of the Irving Oil refinery in Saint John on Tuesday.Premier David Alward called the west-east pipeline proposal an historic initiative. Alward made the comments in front of the Irving Oil refinery in Saint John on Tuesday. (Robert Jones/CBC)

Federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver said on Tuesday TransCanada’s announcement was a “positive step.”

“We welcome such proposals, because they can generate thousands of Canadian jobs and long-term economic prosperity — particularly in Quebec and the Maritimes — for generations to come,” Oliver said.

The federal minister said the proposed pipeline project must meet a series of regulatory reviews.

If the project moves forward, Oliver said it would be an important piece of energy infrastructure for Canada.

“Pipelines moving oil from Alberta to Quebec to New Brunswick would be among the most expansive and ambitious stretches of energy infrastructure in the entire world and would contribute to the energy security of Canada and all of North America,” he said.

Officials from the Saint John-based Irving Oil Ltd. have said in the past their refinery could handle western crude oil.

The Irving Oil refinery is the largest in Canada and can process 300,000 barrels of oil per day. Saint John also has a deep-water port and a liquefied natural gas facility.

Oliver said he has recently toured the Irving refinery and the Ultramar refinery in Levis. The federal minister said he plans to tour Suncor’s refinery in Montreal in the coming weeks.

3 days in Alberta

New Brunswick Premier David Alward responded to TransCanada’s announcement on Tuesday morning during a news conference held at the Irving Oil headquarters, calling it an “encouraging step forward.”

The New Brunswick premier said the pipeline proposal is a “historic initiative” for both the province and the country.

“We envision New Brunswick as Canada’s next energy powerhouse and Saint John as the anchor of that powerhouse,” Alward said in front of more than 30 Irving Oil employees.

“If we proceed, this project will strengthen our national and provincial economies and create jobs and economic growth today and for generations to come,” he said, suggesting the project has the potential to be as important to Canada’s economic future as the railway was in the past.

Alward said the pipeline will create high-paying jobs in New Brunswick and will keep workers in the province instead of heading to western Canada to find employment in the oilsands.

“I want to see the day when the mother or father, the son or daughter leave their New Brunswick home in the morning to go to work in the development of natural resources, they will return for dinner that night, not three or four weeks later,” he said.

Alward spent three days in Alberta in February talking to Alberta Premier Alison Redford and oil executives about the possibility of the west-to-east pipeline.

The project has the possibility of creating 2,000 jobs during the construction phase of the pipeline and a few hundred refining jobs after, according to some estimates.

Alberta has been interested in the project, because oil from that province is now being shipped to the United States, where there is a glut. That means oil producers are getting $20 to $40 less per barrel than the world price.

Those lower prices translate into lower royalties for the provincial government, and that is causing a potential multi-billion dollar deficit in Alberta. A pipeline to the Irving Oil refinery would allow Alberta producers to charge the higher world price.

A new pipeline would also alleviate Canada’s dependence on foreign oil and increase the value of Canada’s crude oil through shipping to world markets from the deep-water port of Saint John, said Alward.

Port Saint John president and CEO Jim Quinn welcomed the prospect of playing an integral role in bringing Canadian crude to global markets.

“This opportunity for Saint John and our port is phenomenal,” Quinn said in a statement.

The port, which for 50 years has been handling petroleum cargo for both import and export, currently handles the largest oil tankers in the world, as well as the largest crude carriers, he said.

TransCanada Corp. may build 1,400 kilometres of pipeline, extending its capacity into Saint John. TransCanada Corp. may build 1,400 kilometres of pipeline, extending its capacity into Saint John. (Courtest of TransCanada)