The South Portland marina, where a 'Clear Skies Ordinance' will prevent the loading of tar sands. (Joe Shlabotnik / Flickr / Creative Commons)
A small city in Maine strikes a blow against Canadian tar sands extraction (updated below x2)
Opponents of tar sands—the massive bituminous oil deposits in Alberta, Canada with a greenhouse gas impact four times greater than that of standard crude—have inched one step closer to a major victory.
On Wednesday night, the City Council of South Portland, Maine voted 6-1 to pass an early version of an ordinance that would ban the loading of crude oil onto ships and related infrastructure within city limits. It’s a local land use issue with staggering global implications: The oil industry, activists worry, wants to reverse the flow of the Portland-Montreal Pipe Line, a series of pipelines first built in World War II that now ships imported crude from the coast of Maine to Montreal. Amid ongoing tar sands extraction in Canada—and a dearth of export routes there—it would make more economic sense for the pipelines to flow the other way.
As it stands, two hotly contested pipeline proposals in Canada—TransCanada’s Energy East and Enbridge’s Line 9 expansion—would, if approved, transport tar sands oil from Alberta to eastern Canada. From there, the industry still needs access to overseas markets. By closing the door on exports from South Portland, the local ordinance essentially eliminates one potential path to the sea—the Portland-Montreal Pipe Line. This matters in Alberta: As a recent International Energy Agency report found, future tar sands extraction depends heavily on export capacity......continued here