Protesters rally against tar sands at Sebago Lake State Park

By Beth Brogan, BDN StaffPosted July 20, 2013, at 4:27 p.m. In the wake of the July 6 explosion of a train carrying crude oil from North Dakota through Maine to Lac-Megantic, Quebec, opponents of so-called tar sands crude oil gathered Saturday at Sebago Lake State Park to protest transportation of the bituminous oil across Maine and call attention to the threat to the lake from the pipeline.

Bill McKibben — one of the country’s foremost experts on climate change and founder of — told about 200 people gathered near the beach that their organized action against tar sands oil is working, but that the threat to the state, the country and the world from climate change is still very real.

Council of Canadians opposes the Energy East pipeline

TransCanada is proposing the Energy East pipeline. It would be a 4,400 kilometre pipeline stretching from Alberta to New Brunswick. It would carry 500,000 to 850,000 barrels of crude oil per day from Alberta and Saskatchewan. The company would convert 3,000 kilometres of an existing natural gas pipeline to Quebec and build an additional 1,400 kilometres of pipeline from there to New Brunswick. The pipeline to Quebec could be converted by 2017, the pipeline to New Brunswick completed and operational by 2018. It is expected that TransCanada will seek approval from the National Energy Board for the pipeline this fall.

To read a fuller overview, please see Council of Canadians climate campaigner Maryam Adrangi's Primer on the pipeline.

Among the dozen or so talking points to keep in mind that have been reflected in campaign blogs:


Lac-Mégantic: It’s not trains vs. pipelines, but why we’re relying on oil

Like so many in Canada and abroad, I have been deeply saddened by the horrible news of Saturday’s tragic train accident, oil spill and explosion in Lac-Mégantic. It is already known to have claimed 13 lives and the official death toll is expected to rise sharply.

From the point of view of human casualties, what happened in Lac-Mégantic is in a category of its own. The last major train accident in Quebec took place 14 years ago when one train collided with another that had derailed. Two CN employees were killed.

I was shocked on Saturday to see that, only a few hours after the tragic incident in Lac-Mégantic, pipeline cheerleaders were already hard at work.

Promoters of the TransCanada Keystone XL and the Enbridge Line 9B pipeline-reversal project were quick to assert that pipelines are safer than trains, and that if all of the pipeline projects that are currently on the table had already been approved that the accident in Lac Mégantic could have been avoided. Some even went so far as to blame environmental organizations for this accident.

Derailment fuels debate over rail vs. pipelines for oil transport

By Kevin Miller and Jesse Scardinajscardina Portland Press Herald

The debate over transportation of oil intensified in Maine and nationally Monday as Canadian officials investigated Saturday's deadly train derailment and explosion in Quebec.

After months of controversy over the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, the early-morning crash in Lac-Megantic drew national attention to the growing trend of sending crude oil by rail from North Dakota and Canada to refineries on the Eastern Seaboard.

Whether the disaster will influence debate over the Keystone XL project – which is still under review by the State Department – was unclear Monday.

Tar Sands Study Falls Short

From Wildlife Promise

By Carol Oldham


A study was released from the National Academy of Sciences this week about tar sands and pipelines. It is massive (more than 1,000 pages!) and filled with scientific jargon and acronyms, so we thought you might like to know what it means for you and for our potential Northeastern Tar Sands pipeline.

The Pipeline Hazardous Safety Materials Administration, known by people who focus on this kind of thing as PHMSA, commissioned the study from the National Academy of Sciences last year.

What it is

  • A summary of existing studies – they took several studies and looked across them for findings. It is basically what in the sciences is known as a literature review.

Gov. Shumlin Calls For New Federal Review of Proposed Tar Sands Pipeline

June 20 - 1:21 p.m. - In a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Gov. Peter Shumlin today highlighted the risks posed by a proposed pipeline reversal to carry tar sands oil from Western Canada to Portland, Maine, through Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, and called for a new federal environmental review of the project.

“The adverse impact this pipeline could have on carbon emissions, both from potential spills and the increased oil refining that may result from the additional flow of oil to the Montreal region, should be taken into account in any review of the pipeline reversal. The State of Vermont, through the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, has also raised air quality concerns in the Canadian permit review process,” the Governor wrote.

So. Portland Residents Far Exceed Signature Requirement for Tar Sands Initiative

South Portland, Maine—At a news conference this morning outside of City Hall, Concerned Citizens of South Portland delivered 3,779 signatures—four-times the number of signatures needed—to the South Portland City Clerk to qualify their Waterfront Protection Initiative for the November ballot. The signatures were collected in 11 days.

Sixth Maine Town Passes Resolution Opposing Tar Sands Oil to Protect the Crooked River

The Portland Montreal Pipeline crosses the Crooked River six times including once in Harrison. Photo courtesy of NRCM.


Harrison, ME – Harrison residents voted 156-59 Tuesday to pass a municipal resolution stating opposition to sending tar sands oil through ExxonMobil’s Portland-Montreal Pipeline, making it the sixth Maine town to publically and officially oppose the proposal. The 62-year-old pipeline, which stretches 236 miles from Montreal to South Portland, is being considered for the transport of tar sands, a form of toxic, thick oil that is associated with higher incidence of pipeline spills and can be nearly impossible to clean up. The pipeline stretches 5 miles through Harrison and crosses the Crooked River near the Plains Road. The pipeline also passes through critical wetland habitat along the Crooked River watershed.

Help Stop Tar Sands - Join the campaign in Portland Maine

The Concerned Citizens of South Portland, a local community group, just launched a citizens' initiative to protect their community from tar sands. This local, citizen-initiated ordinance could block the ExxonMobil tar sands project in South Portland, and would protect their community from proposed 70-foot smokestacks that would need to be built in order for  tar sands to be exported out of Casco Bay!

This group really needs your help!

To qualify their Waterfront Protection Ordinance for consideration on the November ballot in South Portland, they need to collect 1,400 signatures from South Portland residents before Monday, June 17th. That’s only two weeks away!