We are a rapidly growing coalition coming together to limit the expansion of dirty and dangerous tar sands into the northeast and Eastern Canada.
Oil production from the Alberta tar sands, a region in western Canada rich in tar-like bitumen deposits, has more than doubled in the past ten years. The Canadian and Alberta governments, along with the tar sands oil companies, hope to continue this rapid rate of expansion – but landlocked Alberta lacks the refining capacity.
There are many tar sands pipeline proposals in the works, including:
- TransCanada’s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, which would carry up to 900,000 barrels per day (bpd) of tar sands from Alberta to Texas.
- Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline, which would transport up to 525,000 bpd of tar sands to Kitimat on the Northern British Columbia Coast for tanker transport through sensitive waters to the U.S. Northwest and Asia.
- An expansion of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline to Vancouver, which would increase its capacity to as much as 850,000 bpd from its current 300,000 bpd enabling a greater flow of tar sands to the Canadian west coast.
However, in their attempts to bring tar sands oil to distant refineries and the global market, oil companies are meeting broad resistance from farmers, ranchers, indigenous communities, unions, students, and other large groups of people intent on blocking the transport and export of tar sands oil from Alberta to the south and west. Therefore, Canadian producers and pipeline companies are now turning more of their attention eastward, to refineries and ports in the Northeast.
For instance, tar sands companies, including fossil-fuel giant Enbridge (a parent company of Gaz Metro, Green Mountain Power’s owner), have clearly stated their interest in accessing eastern markets for tar sands exports. The complete reversal of Line 9 and the Portland-Montreal pipelines would link tar sands oil production centers to international shipping facilities in Maine.
In addition to these pipeline reversals, Enbridge’s $2 billion “Eastern Access” initiative would include expanding the volume capacity of a pipeline known as Line 6B, from Indiana to Ontario. Line 6B is the same pipeline responsible for the massive 2010 Kalamazoo River tar sands spill. When the line ruptured, line operators back in Alberta repeatedly overrode the alarms and increased the pressure, thereby not shutting the pipeline down for more than 17 hours after the spill began and letting more than one million gallons of tar sands crude contaminate the river.
The Line 6B expansion is now part of Enbridge’s response to that spill, but it was in the works before the spill.
As a whole, Enbridge’s pipeline reversal project (known as “Trailbreaker”) would transport tar sands oil through some of the most important natural and cultural places in Ontario, Quebec, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. An oil spill from the pipeline could devastate wildlife, pollute water, and compromise the health of local residents.
Enbridge is openly pursuing the Line 6B expansion and Line 9 reversal. If these are not blocked, Enbridge will be poised to break a trail for tar sands bitumen to flow into New England. A new tar sands pipeline is unnecessary and would bring only risks to central Canada and New England. The Trailbreaker project should not be put into operation.
In order to protect the environment and public safety from the potentially dangerous impacts of tar sands oil pipelines, we need to take action and call on our governments to do thorough reviews of all oil pipelines that might carry tar sands, to conduct long-range clean energy plans before committing to large-scale infrastructure that would increase oil consumption, and to embrace policies that would reduce oil demand. Please step forward with us now.
350.org, National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, Environmental Defence Canada, Equiterre, Friends of the Earth, Better Future Project, Climate Summer, Environment Maine, Sierra Club Maine, 350 Maine, 350 Massachusetts, Natural Resources Council of Maine, 350 Vermont, Vermont Natural Resources Council, VPIRG, Sierra Club Vermont, 350 Connecticut
Find out more about Tar Sands companies' plans to expand into the Northeast: