Congresswoman Pingree Rallies Biggest Anti Tar Sands Protest in Northeast in Portland – Today

Congresswoman Pingree Addresses the Crowd at Maine State Pier.

By Carol McCracken  (Post # 1,280)

“I’m going to ask President Obana to conduct a full environmental impact study of any proposal to pump tar sands oil through the Portland Pipeline, including an examination of the effects of tar sands oil on global warming,” Congresswoman Chellie Pingree told a cheering crowd of over 1,000 people who jammed the Maine State Pier to protest the Exxon/Enbridge plans to pump the thick, (it was once used to waterproof canoes in Alberta),  filthy oil through a 62-year old pipeline from Alberta, Canada to Portland Harbor where it’ll be  shipped to the Gulf of Mexico refineries and where oil executives hope to find the least amount of resistance to the project. She also said she would ask the US State Department to require a new Presidential Permit application.  Unless that happens, there may not be a permit application or adequate public input to the process.

If that is true, oil executives couldn’t have been more wrong about New Englanders resistance.  Over a thousand  protestors from all over New England braved the cold and occasionally windy,  but sunny day to listen to a myriad of speakers including Portland’s Mayor Michael Brennan and a dozen or so others  make the case for why tar sands oil does not belong in New England and especially Portland.  Busloads of people came from Massachusetts to Vermont.

“I”m here to stop the tar sands pipeline from going through Vermont because fossil fuels will kill all the species on this planet,” said Don Hooper, staff member of the National Wildlife Federation, Montpelier, Vt.  “The climate change crises is the most important challenge that human civilization has ever faced.  Every prediction by climage scientists about climate change has been too conservative,” said Conrad Willeman, Newburyport, MA.  “We are currently in the anthropocene era, which means that man has more impact on the changes on earth systems than previously. It’s no longer about volcanos.”   He is a member of 350.org.

According to Pingree because the 236-mile pipeline is already in operation, proponents say little additional environmental review is required.  The current pipeling has a Presidential Permit, which is required when a pipeline crosses a US border.  But reversing the flow and pumping the tar sands oil, which is much more corrosive and is pumped at higher pressure, would constitute a change of use and require a new Presidential Permit.

Opponents of tar sands oil gathered in Monument Square around noon. Just after 12:30 began they marched down Exchange Street to the Maine State Pier on Commercial Street.  Although some oil executives are now claiming they have no specific project in mind, some of them appeared at Wednesday night’s City Council meeting. They testified in opposition to  the Council’s environmental resolution opposing  the use of tar sands fuel in Portland City operations.  The resolution was sent back to Committee.  (Please see Post # 1,276, dated 1/23/13 herein for more background on this matter.)

Lisa Pohlman, executive director of the Natural Rescources Council of Maine, said:  “This crowd is fabulous.  I hope President Obama can hear us down in D.C.  If he’s going to take climate change seriously, he has to say NO to Exxon.”

Please visit www.nrcm.org/tansands.asp for more information. There is an abundance of interesting  information about the tar sands in Alberta, Canada on-line.