Enbridge pipeline controversy now on both coasts, Maine residents object to plan to send bitumen to Portland

It didn’t take long for the plans to send bitumen eastbound, perhaps as an alternative to Kitimat, to start controversy. The bitumen would go through the Montreal-Portland pipeline, thus the terminal could be at Portland, Maine.

The Maine coast is likely even more delicate than the British Columbia coast, and environmental groups are already gearing up to fight the pipeline as reported in the Kennebec (Maine) Journal, in tomorrow’s edition, June 21, 2012.

Tar sands oil transit meets objections

As speculation grows about the possibility of tar sands oil flowing from Canada through Maine, environmental advocates are banding together to oppose what they see as a risky proposition.

On Tuesday at Portland City Hall, [fisher Brooke] Hidell joined representatives from the Natural Resources Council of Maine, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the local chapter of the Sierra Club to protest what they say is a growing threat to Maine’s quality of life.

Enbridge Corp., a major petroleum company in Canada, has applied for a permit to reverse the flow of oil between Ontario and Montreal. Dylan Voorhees of the Natural Resources Council of Maine and others predict a similar reversal of the Portland-Montreal Pipe Line, so Canadian oil could be loaded onto tankers in Casco Bay, then shipped to refineries.

Voorhees said that would provide no real benefits to Maine but would threaten the environment while increasing profits for oil companies.

If Enbridge thinks the fight in British Columbia was a headache, it is likely that any plan to use Maine as a conduit for bitumen, will be as equal, if not more controversial.

The area is often home to prominent members of the American establishment.  The Bush family compound, summer retreat for presidents George W and George H. W. Bush, is in nearby Kennebunkport.

The state is also home to a large, vibrant and vocal artistic community.

Editor’s note:  Thirty years ago, in 1983, I took an Outward Bound course on the coast of Maine at the Hurricane Island School (it has since closed).  Unlike the rugged islands of the coast of British Columbia, the offshore islands where I sailed in Maine, are considered environmentally delicate and there are restrictions on the number of visitors and use of the island.