Town of Raymond: Board of Selectmen Meeting on April 2nd addressed an amended resolution on oil sands. The amended resolution was adopted (it passed unanimously). It can be found as part of the Board of Selectmen's meeting e-packet. (See pg. 48 of packet.)
The Board of Selectmen, during the Feb. 12th meeting, heard a presentation by Healthy Waters Coalition on a proposed resolution on oil sands and spill prevention. The proposed resolution is here, although this version has since been amended. (PDF) Related materials were submitted as part of the e-packet, which is available on the Board of Selectmen webpage. During this meeting, this video of the Kalamazoo River clean-up (Michigan State Police footage) was shown as a comparison and illustration of what an oil sands spill requires for manpower, equipment, round-the-clock oil removal work and habitat restoration, which is still ongoing as of 2013. The chemical composition of the oil sands that spilled in the Kalamazoo River was a combination of Cold Lake (CL) and Western Canadian Select (WCS), two brands of oil sands products containing diluted bitumen. To see the presentation that was shown at the Selectmen meeting, find the presentation PDF at the coalition's website.
2013 State of Maine Legislation Proposed:
Currently there is a resolve to propose a two-year moratorium on tar sands (diluted bitumen) transportation in Maine. As of April 2013, it was referred to the State House Committee on Environment and Natural Resources (House) and referred to the State Sentate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources (Senate). For more information about this bill, please click here.
Local issues in Maine, Kalamazoo River Enbridge Spill in Michigan (2010) & Safety Concerns:
In southern Maine, Sebago Lake, a source of drinking water for many, plays a prominent role in the concerns of certain interests groups in Maine. In particular, there is concern about the town of Raymond, since there is a pumping station located here. What is the plan for the Portland-Montreal Pipeline, which passes through Raymond? It is unclear what--and when--such a change will happen. However, the PMPL acquired change-in-use permits, which specified a brand of diluted bitumen called Cold Lake, from the State of Maine in 2008. PMPL also acquired an air quality permit from the State of Maine Department of Environment Protection (DEP) in 2009 to build Vapor Combustion Units (VCUs) at the South Portland terminus. PMPL also acquired air quality and land use permits from the City of South Portland in order to build VCUs, also known as smokestack-like units, at the terminal in South Portland necessary to process oil sands before it can be safely transmitted to cargo ships. (Note: one of those two local permits expired in 2012; the other expires in 2013.The company would need to re-apply for those to proceed.) By federal law, this oil must go to global markets. The U.S. would have an opportunity to bid on the oil once it has reached global markets, but the U.S. is competing for the oil sands with other countries, which have increased demand for this type of product.
According to safety analyses, there are considerably higher risks for areas with pumping stations, such as Raymond. For a Pipeline Safety Analysis, a joint report by Natural Resources Defense Council, National Wildlife Federation, Pipeline Safety Trust and Sierra Club, click here. For Enbridge company information on pipeline safety policies, click here. Also see: Enbridge defends pipeline safety (MI). For a June 2012 example of a spill that occured at a pumping station along the Alberta-based pipeline transporting oil sands, see this story.
During the Kalamazoo River heavy crude oil spill in summer 2010, heavy rains carried the spilled "tar sands" oil 30 miles down river. Despite Enbridge's attempts to promote a successful clean-up of the tar sands spill in the Kalamazoo River, with a publicity campaign, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency called for an enforcement action because Enbridge's clean-up methods violated the Clean Water Act. For the details, see this document. See State of Michigan's Kalamazoo River Spill website: click here.
What spilled? According to Michigan DEQ's Enbridge Response Unit Chief, Enbridge indicated that the composition of the crude that was released during the spill was approximately 77.5% Cold Lake blend crude (CL) and 22.5% Western Canadian Select (WCS). Most recently, Enbridge and Michigan DEQ settled on a work plan, which outlines the continued work (oil removal, assessment, habitat restoration, etc.) well into 2018. But Enbridge has resisted some of this work in the agreed-upon work plan (as of January 2013). See this news story. To read the consolidated work plan (Enbridge, MI DEQ, EPA, etc.), click here.
On Dec. 4-5, 2012, the Coastal Response Research Center of UNH put on a training workshop, Oil Sands Products Training, by invitation only to staff of the State of Maine Dept. of Environmental Protection, the Coast Guard and EPA in Portland, Maine. For their agenda and links to their presentations & fact sheets, see this webpage.
What are oil sands, also known as tar sands?
Oil sands, also known as tar sands, are a mixture of clay, sand, water and bitumen, a heavy black viscous oil. The process extracts the bitumen from the other materials and requires other treatment before it can be refined. It is so thick it requires dilution with additional hydrocarbons before it can be transported through pipelines when it can be later turned into conventional oil. When people talk about transporting "tar sands," technically it refers to diluted bitumen. It is also referred to as heavy oil sands, Cold Lake crude and oil sands by Enbridge and other pipeline companies. In fact, there are many names for this group of oil sands products.
This process of transporting it in pipelines has many potentially hazardous impacts to human health as well as water and other natural resources in the event of a spill. Once the diluted bitumen is transported, the process of turning it into conventional oil is not cost-effective or sensible. The process releases more than double the harmful greenhouse gasses than conventional heating oil does during production. (See Scientific American.) Currently, the bulk of the tar sands originate in Alberta, Canada—where large pools called tar pits have replaced wetlands. These tar pits are big enough to be seen from space. Most of the wastewater involved with the tar sands production ends up in streams and rivers throughout the boreal forest, contaminating the wetlands and threatening bird and wildlife habitat. For Alberta’s Government webpage on oil sands, click here.
Analyses, Reports, Resources, Maps & Fact Sheets:
Map showing Pipeline through Casco, by Pam Edwards
Video: Info Forum held on Nov. 1st. See video.
Maine DEP Report: Natural Resources at risk posed by transportation of oil sands by rail in Maine, December 2012
Characteristics of Oil Sands Products, by Center for Spills in the Environment, Canada Natural Resources, December 2012
Kalamazoo Case Study: Oil Spill Response Technology Report by EPA, December 2012
What are the Increased Risks from Transporting Tar Sands Oil? (NOAA research)
Going in Reverse: The Tar Sands Threat to Central Canada & New England - Report by NRDC, June 2012
Pipedreams: Jobs Gained, Jobs Lost by the Construction of the Keystone XL by Cornell University, January 2012. This report is a good source of information on the analysis of job creation for a new pipeline construction. This document also answers some questions about pricing of crude oil vs. conventional oil as it has applied in the Midwest. (This was referenced at the 9/25 RCC meeting.)
NTSB Accident Report on Enbridge's Kalamazoo River Spill, July 2010 - "Hazardous Liquid Pipeline Rupture and Release" by Enbridge Inc. (Published in 2012)
Tar Sands, "Trailbreaker," Exxon Mobile fact sheet by NRDC (contains extensive list of media reports and links to useful analyses)
National Energy Board (CAN) - Major applications before the NEB: On October 11, 2012, Enbridge Pipelines Inc. (Enbridge) filed a project description for the Line 9B Reversal Project. This will allow Enbridge to transport crude oil between Montreal and Ontario. This is one of the steps involved in a larger project, which includes the Trailbreaker piece going from Montreal through Maine. There are three arms of the pipeline reversal update project, including Sarnia & North Westover. (Trailbreaker is a former name for this third phase of this project.) For more information, visit the NEB website. For project description, see this. For Enbridge's description of Line 9, visit the company's website. For a powerpoint presentation given by Enbridge to its partners in 2012, demonstrating a strategy to move heavy oil sands to Montreal markets and beyond, see this PPT.
Manomet Natural Capital Report: Valuing Maine's Nature (May 2012) showing $ values in Sebago Lake watershed. Based on this report, the ecosystems in Cumberland County are valued higher in dollars than any other part of the State of Maine. The value of nonurban, noncoastal wetlands, for instance, in the State of Maine is over $4 billion.
Media Press, Blogs & Further Reading:
HWC Members Interviewed: Environmental Groups call for study of tar sands oil before it is transported through Maine, Channel 6 News, May 23, 2013 (Video)
Bill Nemitz: Lobbying for tar sands oil is pretty slick, Portland Press Herald, April 23, 2013
NH Governor seeks review before any tar sands oil flows, Associated Press, April 22, 2013
Arkansas spill raises concerns about piping tar sands oil through New England, Boston Globe, April 10, 2013
Raymond passes tar sands resolution, by John Balentine, Lakes Region Weekly, April 5, 2013
TransCanada moves forward on West-East oil pipeline plan, Reuters, April 2, 2013
Healthy Waters Coalition Informs Citizens on Oil Sands, by Leah Stetson, Lakes Region Weekly, March 31, 2013
Oil sands through Maine? The battle is on despite "no plan", by Scott Thistle, Sun Journal, via Bangor Daily News, March 27, 2013
Letters to the Editor: PROs and CONs of Tar Sands, submitted by various citizens, Portland Press Herald, March 12, 2013
Portland area residents: No tar sands pipeline, by Tux Turkel, Portland Press Herald, March 11, 2013
Waterford passes "anti-tar sands" resolution, by Beth Quimby, Portland Press Herald, March 2, 2013
Guest column: Game over if 'tar sands' ship sails, by Heleyne May, Lakes Region Weekly, February 28, 2013
Tar sands oil fight moves to Maine towns by Leslie Bridgers, Portland Press Herald, February 17, 2013
Video: Tar sands cause heated environmental and economic debate (Bangor Daily News, February 1, 2013
Another View: Oil industry underplays danger of tar sands oil spills, by Emily Figdor, Portland Press Herald, February 1, 2013
Maine Watch with Jennifer Rooks, coverage of Tar Sands Protest, February 1, 2013 (An interview with Larry Wilson, PMPL and Dylan Voorhees, NRCM
WGME 13 coverage on tar sands Portland Town Council meeting, January 23, 2013
Movement underway to make Portland tar sands free by Susan Sharon, MPBN, January 23, 2013
Town of Casco First Maine Town to Pass Oil Sands/Tar Sands-related Resolution:
"Casco says no to plan for tar sands oil" - Casco residents passed a municipal resolution on Satrdurday, January 12, 2013, opposing the transmission of tar sands oil (also known as heavy oil sands) through the Portland-Montreal Pipe Line. For Portland Press Herald coverage, see this article. For a related story, see this article. A full copy of the Casco resolution is available at this link.
Letter to the Editor: Say no to tar sands by Martin Shuer, Windham January 18, 2013
Portland Councilors to vote on not using fuel from tar sands oil, by North Cairn, Portland Press Herald, January 18, 2013
Groups: Pipeline proposal a sign tar sands oil is headed to Maine, by North Cairn, Portland Press Herald, December 4, 2012
Maine Officials Preparing for Tar Sands Oil Spill by NRCM, December 4, 2012
Enbridge: Tar Sands Opponents Distorting Pipeline Change Plans, by Susan Sharon, Maine Public Radio, November 30, 2012
Line 9, Shipping Tar Sands Crude East by Joyce Nelson, Watershed Sentinel, December 2012
Windham residents, town councilors talk tar sands by Bill Cleary, The Windham Independent, November 30, 2012
Enbridge's Line 9 reversal touted as good oil sands PR by Max Paris, CBC News, November 9, 2012
Groups say local pipeline project is problematic (The Journal, CAN) Nov. 9, 2012
EPA Worries "Dilbit" Still Threat to Kalamazoo River, Two Years After Spill Inside Climate News, October 11, 2012
Federal Officials Interrupt Enbridge's Greenwash of Kalamazoo River Tar Sands Spill Huffington Post, October 11, 2012
New England Tar Sands Pipeline Plotted "Behind Closed Doors" - ReaderSupportedNews.org Common Dreams - October 11, 2012
Pipeline Leak Detection systems miss 19 out of 20 spills - by Anthony Swift, Natural Resources Defense Council blog, September 19, 2012
U.S. Boom in oil production spells peril for Candadian crude The Globe & Mail, Sept. 11, 2012
Opinion: Another View: Turns out Canada does want to send oil east via pipelines (Portland Press Herald, Sept. 2, 2012)
Maine may be central as oil flow shifts east (Portland Press Herald, June 2012)
Maine Voices: Kalamazoo River tar sands spill disaster should be a lesson for Maine (Portland Press Herald, July 2012)p
In through the backdoor: Is Enbridge Inc. trying to bring tar sands to Central Canada and New England? (NRDC blog, April 2012)
Keystone XL tar sands pipeline leak detection system (related to Kalamazoo spill and other spills) by Anthony Swift, NRDC blog, June 2011
PowerPoint Presentations & Videos:
Video: Tar Sands Forum hosted by Loon Echo Land Trust, Western Foothills Land Trust & Natural Resources Council of Maine, Casco, Maine (summer 2012) Lakes Region Television
Environmental Advocates Caution Mainers about Potential for Tar Sands Oil to go Through State Pipeline - Bangor Daily News, October 10, 2012
"Tar Sands: Wildlife Impacts & Overview" by Jim Murphy, National Wildlife Federation (PDF)
"Tar Sands & the Northeast" by Kate Colarulli, Sierra Club, Feb. 2012
Tar Sands: Say No to the Keystone XL Pipeline (Video) -What's at stake, NRDC video (2011)
Michigan - Enbridge Spill - Clean-up, Fly-over videos (Michigan State Police footage)
Information and video footage of Portland Harbor, Maine including oil tankers coming and going
Healthy Waters Coalition Meeting January 23, 2013 at Jordan Small Middle School, 6PM. This is a small regional group that meets monthly to discuss activities related to informing and educating the people of Sebago Lakes Region, Maine. Most of its recent activities have related to this oil sands & pipeline issue and potential impacts on the local watershed.
Tar Sands Rally, Saturday, January 26, 2013 at around 11:30am Monument Square on Congress St. in Portland, ME For more information, contact Todd Martin at Natural Resources Council of Maine, email@example.com
Info Forum Co-Sponsored by Raymond Village Library on Nov. 1st, 2012
The Raymond Village Library co-sponsored an information forum on the Portland-Montreal Pipeline and "tar sands" issue on Nov. 1st at 6PM. A panel of speakers, including Shelley Kath of NRDC, Eliot Stanley of Sebago Lake Anglers' Association, Emily Figdor of Environment Maine and others, spoke about the potential environmental and economic impacts of the proposed reversal of petroleum flow in the Portland-Montreal Pipeline. Fifty people attended this forum. A map showing the path of the pipeline through Raymond, including the pumping station, is available here.
Recap from April, Sept. and Dec. 2012 RCC Meetings:
At the April 2012 RCC meeting, a member gave a brief report on "tar sands" and potential impacts to residents of Raymond. Residents may have heard about the Keystone XL proposal, which has gained national attention. In the past year, there has been some press coverage (see below) regarding a New England-based proposal by the Canadian oil company, Enbridge, for a Montreal-Portland pipeline update formerly called "Trailbreaker," which would involve reversing the flow within the 60-year-old pipeline to transport diluted bitumen. Diluted bitumen comes from crude oil called "tar sands."
"Tar sands oil spills" or heavy oil sands-related spills, are treated differently than conventional oil spills. In fact, the U.S. Government does not consider diluted bitumen, or related oil sands products, the same as conventional crude (U.S. House of Ways and Means Committee). Around the country, there have been several widely known spills of this type, notably the Kalamazoo River spill in Michigan in 2010, which is still contaminated and undergoing a clean-up process. "The U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration said that Enbridge paid a $3.7 million penalty for the 2010 incident. U.S. investigators suggested the company knew of line defects five years before the accident." See: Pipeline owner faces $3.7 million penalty
Even though this Alberta-based company, Enbridge, is a different company than the one that owns and operates the Portland-Montreal Pipeline, which we know to pass through Raymond, what is important to understand is that oil sands is very difficult to clean up in the event of a spill, no matter whether it's in Michigan, or Maine, or managed by one company, or another. PMPL has acquired certain permits from Maine DEQ and the City of South Portland for change-in-use and air quality. The change-in-use permit for the pipeline that runs through Raymond specifies Cold Lake crude, a brand of oil sands (diluted bitumen), a variation on the same brand (Cold Lake) that spilled in the Kalamazoo River in Michigan in 2010.
Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM): http://www.nrcm.org/
NRCM's page on "Dirty Fuels" e.g. tar sands: http://www.nrcm.org/issue_dirtyfuels.asp
Portland-Montreal Pipeline: http://www.pmpl.com/about.php
Tar Sands Free Northeast: http://tarsandsfreene.org/
EPA's webpage on the Enbridge spill at Kalamazoo River (with frequent updates, analyses, reports, current as of Oct. 2012): http://epa.gov/enbridgespill/
State of Michigan's Kalamazoo River spill website: http://www.michigan.gov/deq/0,1607,7-135-3313_56784---,00.html
"The Portland Pipeline" by Wayne R. Holmquist, Raymond-Casco Historical Society
Healthy Waters Coalition - a collaborative work group in Sebago Lakes Region
The Raymond Conservation Commission most recently reported on this issue at the meeting in January 2013. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the commission members via this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org