Gov. Peter Shumlin says he doesn’t want oil from Canadian tar sands pumped through Vermont, but he is hesitant to support a bill that would give the state certain regulatory power over such a proposal.
“I don’t want to see tar sands pumped through Vermont,” he said on Wednesday at his weekly press conference.
The governor’s comments come a week after Larry Wilson, CEO of the Portland Pipe Line Corp., told the House Fish and Wildlife Committee that he is “aggressively” seeking opportunities to pipe oil from Alberta’s tar sands through Vermont.
Wilson’s company owns the Portland-Montreal pipeline, which cuts through the northeast corner of the state. If an oil company wanted to pipe a petroleum product from the tar sands region to Portland for export, it would need to use that line.
To ensure that the state has regulatory authority over a proposal of this nature, Democratic Rep. David Deen, who chairs the House Fish and Wildlife Committee, and Sen. Ginny Lyons, D-Chittenden, introduced bills that would require such an application to undergo review by an Act 250 commission. Act 250 is the state’s governing land-use law that controls most commercial development in Vermont.
While Wilson opposes any additional regulations on his company’s pipeline, environmental groups say the state already has that authority, and they have asked the Northeast Kingdom’s Act 250 commission to verify whether it has jurisdiction over potential changes to the pipeline.
“Right now the district commission is considering a jurisdictional question … about the pipeline,” Shumlin said. “I’m always hesitant to weigh in with legislation when you have a process under current law that is being debated and considered.
“I think the Legislature is doing good work and asking the right question,” he said. “Let’s see where that goes.”