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Is Tar Sands Crude Coming to New England?

Common Dreams

While much attention has been paid to the possibility of Canada's tar sands crude coming to the U.S. via the Keystone XL pipeline, some signs indicate that Canada is quietly pushing for the crude to flow to the U.S. through a Montreal - Portland, Maine pipeline, according to Foster's Daily Democrat.

Oil Sands

Enbridge, Inc., which has an existing pipeline running from Western Canada east, attempted to reverse the flow of tar sands crude through its pipeline in 2008 but abandoned the idea. But environmentalists on both sides of the border think the company may be renewing their plan.

In addition to reversing the flow to west-east, the company would use the existing Portland-Montreal pipeline to finish the tar sands journey into the U.S..

Enbridge has already filed a request with Canada's National Energy Board to reverse the flow in one segment of its pipeline, and the operator of the Portland-Montreal Pipeline has begun building a new pumping station.

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New Hampshire Foster's Daily Democrat: Tar sands oil heading east? Controversial crude could make its way to New England via pipeline

[T]he Keystone XL pipeline isn't the only transportation path for tar sands oil. Oil suppliers have explored a number of ways to move the controversial petroleum product to market, including pathways through the Northeast.

One of Canada's largest pipeline operators, Enbridge, Inc., developed a plan in 2008 to reverse one of its existing lines to begin moving tar sands oil east from Western Canada, where the industry is set to boom.

Enbridge's Line 9, which starts in the western part of the country, would be capable of delivering tar sands oil to Montreal if the company reversed the flow of the entire line. [...]

To move the tar sands oil on the final leg of the journey from Montreal to Maine, the company proposed utilizing the existing Portland-Montreal Pipe Line.

PMPL stretches more than 200 miles, cutting through Vermont and northern New Hampshire. It currently transports crude in the other direction, from Maine to Montreal.

Enbridge officials have since scrapped the Trailbreaker project, citing a sour economy. But environmental groups in both Canada and the United States believe recent actions indicate the company is working to revive the proposal incrementally. [...]

Dylan Voorhees, director of the clean energy project at the Natural Resources Council of Maine, which was been following the issue, worries it's only a matter of time before the pipeline operators decide to renew the project.

Voorhees said the situation is concerning because moving tar sands presents a greater risk for an oil spill than moving conventional crude oil.

Tar sands is more acidic — and therefore more corrosive — than conventional crude oil, and it must be transported at hotter temperatures and faster speeds, according to Voorhees.

"I think that's one of the concerns that people in New Hampshire might have, is, 'What are the resources and special places that this pipe passes through?'" Voorhees said.

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