WASHINGTON (June 19, 2012) — Controversial new pipeline plans threaten drinking water and many beloved natural areas in Central Canada and New England according to a new report released today. A broad coalition of 19 organizations is sounding the alarm about plans to bring tar sands oil through Ontario, Quebec, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. The advocates say the plan is unsafe and that a tar sands oil spill could harm the region’s waterways, wildlife and tourism economy.
The report, Going in Reverse: The Tar Sands Threat to Central Canada and New England, outlines an array of threats associated with the controversial fuel source, often referred to as the “dirtiest oil on the planet.” The unique corrosive properties of tar sands oil increase the prospect of oil spills and the United States federal government is currently studying whether the highly-corrosive toxic material can be safely transported through pipelines.
“Tar sands oil corrodes pipelines, creating a greater risk of devastating oil spills along the route,” said Danielle Droitsch, NRDC Senior Attorney. “We cannot afford to ignore the climate and environmental dangers that come with the increasing amounts of tar sands oil being pushed into the United States. Enbridge’s effort to bring tar sands east is just one piece of a massive invasion of Canada’s dirty oil---which has put Central Canada and the Northeast U.S. squarely on the front lines.”
The tar sands oil industry has been in a desperate search for a port of export since the Keystone XL and Northern Gateway pipeline projects have become mired in controversy. In 2008, Enbridge tried to pursue a plan to reverse pipelines they called “Traibreaker.” While that effort was shelved in 2009, the company is trying to pursue a nearly identical plan today. In late May, Enbridge announced it would reverse the flow of its 62-year-old pipeline bringing oil from Sarnia, Ontario to Montreal, Quebec. They have already requested a partial reversal of this pipeline with the Canadian National Energy Board. Reversing this pipeline brings Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire one step closer to the Trailbreaker scheme that Enbridge and the Portland-Montreal Pipeline Company previously proposed to push tar sands oil to Portland, Maine for export.
“Tar sands development poses a devastating threat to wildlife,” said Jim Murphy, Senior Counsel, National Wildlife Federation. “From leveling Whooping Crane habitat in Alberta to threatening salmon in the Crooked River, tar sands present an unacceptable risk. New Englanders will stand united in rejecting tar sands cutting through the heart of some its most sacred places.”
“Maine can’t afford to risk a devastating tar sands oil spill in our rivers, lakes and coastal waters just to provide big oil companies with bigger profits,” said Dylan Voorhees, Clean Energy Director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “The health of Maine people and our economy and our way of life depend on clean water for drinking, for tourism, for our fishing industry, and for recreation. The risk of pushing tar sands through this pipeline is too great.”
Tar sands expansion to Central Canada and the U.S. northeast also raises concerns about impacts on climate. The U.S. Library of Congress’ research arm released a report in May of this year confirming tar sands as the transportation fuel with the some of the highest levels of climate-changing carbon pollution on the planet.
"These companies have had a certain amount of trouble persuading Nebraskans and Texans to let their tarsands sludge endanger those states,” said Bill McKibben, President and Co-founder of 350.org. “My guess is that here in Vermont people will be at least as wary. We know that the carbon it contains makes another Irene that much more likely by warming the atmosphere. It's a bad bargain all around for Vermont."
“Enbridge’s plan would turn Ontario into a corridor for risky tar sands oil and help tar sands expand,” said Gillian McEachern, Deputy Campaign Director for Environmental Defence Canada, “The more tar sands oil we use, the worse global warming will get and the fewer clean solutions we will embrace.”
The groups called upon U.S. and Canadian regulators to reject Enbridge’s efforts to reverse its pipeline through Canada and to conduct full reviews of the entire project, including a complete study of risks to the environment and human health.
The full report and accompanying fact sheet can be found at http://www.nrdc.org/energy/going-in-reverse.asp