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VNRC acts to halt potential Vermont tar sands pipeline

The Vermont Natural Resources Council said this morning it is joining with groups in Canada and New England to oppose what it fears is a plan to ship tarsands oil from Montreal to Portland, Maine through a pipeline that passes through the Northeast Kingdom.

Jake Brown, a spokesman for the Vermont environmental group, said a Canadian tar sands developer is seeking to avoid full environmental assessment of the pipeline in Canada by separating it into segments and seeking an exemption from that assessment.

VNRC decided to join Environmental Defence of Canada and other groups in asking the Canadian National Energy Board not to grant the exemption.

“We wanted to be on the record as soon as possible, sending a note of caution about shipping tar sands across New England,” Brown said. “We are still doing research about exactly what this would be.”

According to a story in Friday’s Montreal Gazette, the plan is to ship tarsands crude through a pipeline to Montreal. It was not clear whether the oil would be refined in Montreal, or whether it would be shipped south in its crude form. An existing pipeline carries oil from Portland, Maine to Montreal. It passes through the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. According to the Gazette, the pipeline company is considering reversing the flow through that pipeline, so it could carry product from Montreal to Portland.

Brown said if the U.S. pipeline were to carry tarsands crude, that would be of concern because of the possibility of a pipeline rupture.

The full Montreal Gazette story is here: http://bit.ly/VTtarsands

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