The Council of Canadians expresses solidarity with Protect South Portland, the Conservation Law Foundation and others who are seeking to uphold the municipal Clear Skies ordinance that bans Canadian tar sands bitumen from their harbour.
The CBC has explained, “[South Portland] has provided imported oil by pipeline to Canada since 1941… The oil moves north from Maine through New Hampshire to Montreal via the Portland Montreal Pipeline, a subsidiary of the Canadian parent company that is owned by three companies involved in the Alberta oilsands: Shell, Suncor and Imperial Oil.” But people are concerned that the flow of the 600,000 barrels-per-day Portland Montreal Pipeline could be reversed to facilitate the export of tar sands bitumen from Alberta to the United States and beyond.
The 378-kilometre pipeline passes various waterways including Sebago Lake, the primary source of drinking water for the Greater Portland Region.
Their concerns have now increased given, as the Associated Press reports, “the Portland Pipe Line Corp. is suing the city over a ban adopted last year. The city’s ordinance is designed to prevent the South Portland-to-Montreal oil pipeline from being reversed. That would allow Canadian oil to come into Maine.” The Bangor Daily News adds, “Passed 6-1 by city councilors [in July 2014], the [Clear Skies] ordinance authorizes the restriction of ‘bulk loading’ of unrefined tar sands onto ‘marine tank vessels’ at the city’s port, along with all related infrastructure.”
The lawsuit, filed in US District Court by Portland Pipeline Corp. and American Waterways Operators, claims that, “one-third of the oil imported into the United States comes from Canada; that Canada respects the environment and existing regulations that are in place; and that the ordinance reflect a misunderstanding of Canada’s oil sands product.”
The record of the Harper government is clear. Contrary to what the lawsuit asserts, it tells us that Canada does not ‘respect the environment’ and that ‘existing regulations’ have been severely diminished to facilitate the export of tar sands bitumen to places like South Portland. Harper has gutted every serious regulation protecting freshwater in this country, leaving the vast majority of lakes and rivers with absolutely no protection from pollution and exploitation. He has stopped more than 3,000 environmental assessments on potentially hazardous projects and tried to silence dissenting scientists and environmental groups.
South Portland opposes tar sands exports from its port (March 2014 blog)