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Green Mountain Global Formum and 350 Vermont present a film on Tar Sands Oil

An Article from Green Energy Times:

November 5, 2012

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WAITSFIELD, VT— Canadian pipeline company Enbridge Inc. appears to be reviving a previous plan to transport tar sands oil through some of the most important natural landscapes in eastern Canada and New England. In Vermont this would impact the nine towns of Jay, Troy, Newport, Irasburg, Barton, Sutton, Burke, Victory, and Guildhall via the existing Portland-Montreal pipeline, which crosses fifteen bodies of water, including the Crystal Lake and Lake Memphremagog watersheds, and the Missisquoi and Connecticut Rivers; it also runs through Victory State Forest.

Tar sands oil is a highly corrosive mix that has been likened to liquid sandpaper that frequently ruptures through the pipe in which it’s traveling, resulting in massive inland oil spills. On July 25, 2010, there was a tar sands oil spill near the Kalamazoo River, Michigan. Over one million gallons of tar sands oil reached the river. Cleanup continues to this day, at a current price tag of over $800 million.

The current plan in question would reverse the direction of oil flowing through two major pipelines—Enbridge Line 9 and the Portland/Montreal Pipeline. But under the plan, the pipelines would not carry conventional oil, but Canadian tar sands oil—the dirtiest oil on the planet—along an approximately 750-mile route. The pipelines’ route would run east through Ontario and Quebec, and down through New England, finally ending in Portland, Maine’s Casco Bay, for export. A new analysis released early in October by environmental groups finds that ExxonMobil is the majority owner of this pipeline and it is apparently partnered with Enbridge in this venture. ExxonMobil’s subsidiary Imperial Oil Limited owns 76 percent of the pipeline, while Canadian oil giant Suncor Energy owns the remaining 24 percent.

The removal of tar sands oil from the ground is a destructive business in which large swaths of Alberta’s Boreal forest are destroyed, and a massive amount of carbon dioxide is emitted in the extracting and refining processes. Because of the corrosive qualities of tar sands oil, its transport poses unique risks that aging conventional oil pipeline systems—like the Portland-Montreal pipeline which is 62 years old—are not equipped to handle. A spill along this pre-existing pipeline could harm the rivers, lakes, and bays that are vital resources for millions of people in Canada and the U.S.

To educate the public about the environmental and health risks of tar sands oil in general and the proposed plan for this pre-existing pipeline in particular, so that we can block its use in our communities by way of respective town resolutions, the Green Mountain Global Forum, in conjunction with 350 Vermont, is hosting two upcoming events in the Mad River Valley. On Sunday, November 11, a documentary entitled Tipping Point: The Age of the Oil Sands, will screen at the Big Picture Theatre at 7:00 p.m. A panel discussion will follow on Tuesday, November 13, also at Big Picture, also at 7:00 p.m. Participants in the panel discussion will include Shelley Kath—National Resources Defense Council consultant and attorney based in Montreal; Jim Murphy—Senior Counsel for the National Wildlife Federation, based in Montpelier; Ben Walsh—Clean Energy Advocate at VPIRG in Montpelier; and Jean Binette—Canadian citizen/Environmental Activist/Leader of the Dunham committee for the environment (CEDunham).

Both events are free and open to the public.


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