South Portland Tar Sands Ban Enacted

Maine Public Broadcasting Network | July 22, 2014

The South Portland City Council has voted to ban the export of Canadian tar-sands crude through the city, effectively ending any attempt to bring the crude from western Canada through a pipeline into the city. While there are no such plans in the work, Portland Pipeline Corporation Vice-President Tom Hardison spoke against the proposal.

“I continue to be concerned about the clearly intended consequences the passage of this ordinance will have on the energy industry in South Portland and the industry’s ability to adapt to and meet the needs of a dynamic industry and the energy needs of the region and North America,” Hardison said.

Crude from the tar sands of western Canada is fueling a surge in North American production, but environmentalists say tar sands oil is difficult to clean if spilled and dangerous to ship.

“It’s an awesome accomplishment,” says Emily Figdor of Environment Maine. “It really gives me hope that other communities that also are dealing with serious local impacts from tar sands infrastructure can come together and similarly protect what is so dear to them.”

South Portland councilor Michael Pock was the only “no” vote, as he was two weeks ago. Opponents of the new ordinance say the referendum could hurt the city’s economic future, though the ordinance was crafted to allow existing petroleum handling in the city to continue.

An attorney for Portland Pipeline Corp., Matt Manahan, warned the ordinance would be found to be pre-empted by federal and state law. But Sean Mahoney of the Conservation Law Foundation challenged that and said his organization will support South Portland if the city faces suit to overturn the anti-tar-sands ordinance.

Opponents of the ordinance will have 20 days to collect some 900 signatures to force a vote on the ordinance.

 

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

 

RCMP bombed oil site in ‘dirty tricks’ campaign

CBC News : Posted: Jan 30, 1999 11:08 AM ET

The Mounties bombed an oil installation as part of a dirty tricks campaign in their investigation into sabotage in the Alberta’s oil patch.

The revelation came at the bail hearing Thursday of two farmers who the Crown says have turned their complaints that oil industry pollution is making their families ill into acts of vandalism and mischief.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/rcmp-bombed-oil-site-in-dirty-tricks-campaign-1.188599

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/#

 

New England on ‘High Alert’ After Canadian Pipeline Reversal Approved

Friday, March 7, 2014 by Common Dreams

The tar sands oil industry scored a regulatory victory on Thursday when the Canadian National Energy Board approved a plan by energy giant Enbridge to reverse the flow of Canada’s ‘Line 9’ oil pipeline eastward from Ontario to Montreal.

 

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2014/03/07-4

Pipeline rupture report raises questions about TransCanada inspections

Feb 04, 2014 10:29 PM ET
Amber Hildebrandt, CBC News

A CBC News investigation has unearthed a critical report that the federal regulator effectively buried for several years about a rupture on a trouble-prone TransCanada natural gas pipeline.

On July 20, 2009, the Peace River Mainline in northern Alberta exploded, sending 50-metre-tall flames into the air and razing a two-hectare wooded area.

Members of Dene Tha’ First Nations community of Chateh, about 50 kilometres away from the site of the blast, also want to know why the report was not released until now.(Courtesy of Dene Tha’ First Nation)

 

 

Few people ever learned of the rupture — one of the largest in the past decade — other than the Dene Tha’ First Nation, whose traditional territory it happened on.

TransCanada Has Already Had To Fix 125 Dents and Sags in Southern Keystone Pipeline

CREDIT: Public Citizen

Synthetic crude oil hasn’t yet entered the southern segment of the Keystone XL pipeline, but a report releasedTuesday by non-profit consumer rights group Public Citizen says the pipes are already bending, sagging and peeling to the point of a possible spill or leakage of toxic tar sands.

Drawing on the accounts of landowners, citizens and former workers of TransCanada, the report documents alleged construction problems and engineering code violations along the Texas portion of the pipeline, proved by what the group says is a staggering amount of excavations to correct dents and patch holes. Public Citizen is calling on the Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration to review TransCanada’s construction quality assurance records for possible federal violations, and perform a complete re-testing of the pipeline to see if the repairs work.

“The government should investigate, and shouldn’t let crude flow until that is done,” Public Citizen’s Texas office director Tom Smith said in a statement. “Given the stakes — the potential for a catastrophic spill of hazardous crude along a pipeline that traverses hundreds of streams and rivers and comes within a few miles of some towns and cities — it would be irresponsible to allow the pipeline to start operating.”

One of the landowners cited in the study is David Whitley, a self-described “go-along guy” who owns an 80-acre plot of land in Texas which the pipeline crosses.

At first Whitley cooperated with TransCanada’s construction crew and did not dispute construction of the pipeline, deciding that “I wasn’t going to let it give me any more gray hairs,” Whitley said on a conference call with reporters. His attitude changed, however, when workers returned months after construction to do a visual inspection. The workers dug a hole in the ground of Whitley’s property, and he got his first look at Keystone.

“It changed my attitude seeing what was running underneath my property,” Whitley said, noting that there were two red marks on the pipeline that said “dented, cut out.” The pipeline, he said, was resting on a rock.

The report cites more than 125 excavations in 250 miles of possible problems with pipe that had been buried for months. The report says TransCanada is touting the excavation and subsequent pipe replacements as a demonstration of its commitment to safety, but Public Citizen’s report says the company is in danger of of repeating its tainted history of problems with pipeline construction and safety. From the report:

During the construction of Keystone I, TransCanada pledged to meet 50 special conditions. But more than 47 anomalies along the line in four states had to be retested, and the Keystone I line spilled 12 times in the first year of operation.

In July 2011, TransCanada’s Bison natural gas pipeline exploded within the first six months of operation, blowing out an approximate 40-foot section of pipe. TransCanada had been warned of potential quality problems with construction and inspection.

In the 1990s, Iroquois Pipeline Operations, a subsidiary of TransCanada Pipelines Ltd., and four senior executives pleaded guilty to knowingly violating environmental and safety provisions of the pipeline construction permit. Iroquois executives had promised a pipeline of exceptional safety. [It crosses the historic territory of Iroquois Confederacy thru present-day NY & CT!]

The report also calls on Congress to hold oversight hearings to make sure that PHMSA investigates and addresses the safety of the pipeline. Smith said PHMSA should perform two tests: A so-called “Hydro test,” which pressurizes the pipeline to levels higher than it would normally experience, and an “caliper inline inspection,” which would look for problems on the inside of the pipeline.

“The consequences of a failure would be grave,” Smith said. “Our goal is to try and make sure if it operates it is operated as safely as possible and that the line itself secures the product to make sure that we don’t create additional problems down the line.”

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