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.

In addition to urging federal review, the Governor also noted the importance of the State of Vermont’s oversight of any pipeline reversal through the state land use law, Act 250, saying, “I believe state oversight regarding environmental and other impacts within our borders is critical, and I am committed to the State of Vermont having oversight regarding such a project within our borders,” he wrote to Sec. Kerry. “My opposition to the transport of tar sands oil through the reversed PMPL is based upon the impacts of such a project in Vermont and concerns for Vermont’s economy, environment, and natural resources in the event of a spill. I am also worried about the potential climate change impacts associated with the extraction and burning of tar sands from western Canada.”

The pipeline now carries 600,000 barrels of conventional oil daily from Maine to Montreal. But The Portland Pipe Line Corporation/Montreal Pipe Line Limited is considering reversing the pipeline to accommodate increased tar sands oil flow from an area known as the Alberta Tar Sands in western Canada, potentially routing that project through New England states, including Vermont. That plan is opposed by environmental groups, including the Sierra Club and the Vermont Natural Resources Council.

“The State of Vermont recognizes the risks that such a substantial change in the function of this pipeline would pose to our state,” the Governor told Sec. Kerry. “For the sake of the people of Vermont and all those who would be affected by a potential spill, I hope you will require a new Presidential Permit and Environmental Impact Statement.”

A separate pipeline proposal would carry tar sands oil from Western Canada through the central United States. 

To view the Governor's letter, click here.