By Carol McCracken (Post # 1 ,232)
This morning at a news conference on the waterfront, a coalition of environmental groups, announced that ExxonMobil is actually a major owner of the pipeline that cuts across Maine and New England – this pipeline is the subject of an emerging proposal to transport tar sands through it. The press conference was held at the Casco Bay Ferry Terminal, 56 Commercial Street.
“Tar sands is not only the dirtiest oil on earth, it is also heavier and much more corrosive than the refined oil currently going through the Maine pipeline. The pipeline crosses vital salmon spawning habitat in the Crooked River, traverses Sebago Lake; the drinking water supply for Portland and winds through the picture-postcard communities of the Lakes Region to Casco Bay,” said a press release issued by the Natural Resources Council of Maine.
For months, ExxonMobil’s local subsidiary, the Portland Pipeline Corporation, has sought to deflect rising concerns in Maine about tar sands transport by denying that there is an ‘active’ proposal to reverse the use of the existing pipeline to transport tar sands. However, documents just released, reveal that the company met with Governor Paul LePage and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection last year, specifically to discuss Canadian tar sands. That meeting happened in October 2011, several months after an application had been submitted in Canada to reverse the Canadian portion of the project in order to carry dangerous tar sands oil eastward. Furthermore, half of the 10 members of the Portland Pipe Line Corporation’s Board of Directors, work for all companies in Alberta. Alberta is the home of the tar sands, while others are from Ontario or Texas. Only one board member is from Maine and he serves as president of the Portland Pipeline Corp.
“This information is a double whammy-not only is ExxonMobil, the largest oil company in the world, behind the plan to transport dangerous tar sands oil through Maine, but its local representatives have misled the public about the status of the project,” said Environment Maine Director Emily Figdor.
“This pattern of misleading statement and trying to hide what is really going on is troubling,” said Glen Brand, Executive Director of the Sierra Club Maine. “Clearly these pipeline companies are worried that if Maine people and others really see the full picture of what is going on to bring tar sands through the region, they will face greater public opposition. Exxon and Enbridge have dirty track records with oil and tar sands, so it is understandable why they prefer their dealing to be behind closed doors.”
ExxonMobil is responsible for the disastrous Valdez oil spill off the Alaskan coast in 1989. It was also responsible for the July 2011 Silvertip Pipeline spill that dumped 42,000 gallons of oil into the pristine Yellowstone River in Montana. While that oil spill happened to be conventional crude oil, the pipelines is also used to move corrosive tar sands ‘diluted bitumen’, which has proven nearly impossible to clean after it spills.