Vermont News Briefs

Shumlin writes Kerry to oppose reversal of pipeline flow to pump tar sands

Last week, Gov. Peter Shumlin wrote to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, establishing his firm opposition to the potential piping of tar sands oil through the Portland-Montreal Pipeline, which passes through the northeast corner of Vermont.

Shumlin asked Kerry to require a new presidential permit and a federal Environmental Impact Statement — in the event the Portland Pipe Line Corp. sought to reverse the flow of its line to pump tar sands oil from Montreal to Portland.

The secretary of state has authority over presidential permits for cross-border pipelines that pump liquids, and an Environmental Impact Statement is the result of a survey for a project “significantly affecting the quality of the human environment.”

Portland Pipe Line presently has no contracts to pump tar sands oil, but its CEO has repeatedly said that the company is very interested in the proposition.

Shumlin has said in the past he does not support the flow of tar sands oil through Vermont, and now he is actively advocating against this potential project.

“My opposition to the transport of tar sands oil through the reversed PMPL is based upon the impacts of such a project in Vermont and concerns for Vermont’s economy, environment, and natural resources in the event of a spill,” Shumlin wrote. “I am also worried about the potential climate change impacts associated with the extraction and burning of tar sands from western Canada.”

In the letter, Shumlin also asserted the state’s land-use authority over the pipeline. In a jurisdictional opinion, Act 250 land-use coordinator Kirsten Sultan wrote that if Portland Pipe Line wants to pump oil from Alberta’s tar sands region through Vermont, the company would need an Act 250 permit. The company has appealed, arguing that the decision to apply the state’s governing land-use law to this prospective project was based on “misleading” information.

Although the appeal process is in its nascent stages, Shumlin wrote that he is adamant Vermont have environmental regulatory power over the project.

“While the company challenges Vermont’s law, I believe state oversight regarding environmental and other impacts within our borders is critical, and I am committed to the State of Vermont having oversight regarding such a project within our borders,” he wrote.


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Andrew Stein

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  • Connie Godin

    I think this is very good news.

    • Pam Ladds

      And we all need to keep his feet to the fire on this issue.

  • Brian McAllister

    If they want Shumlin to bless this, all they have to do is get Green Mountain Power to say they are for it. After all, he is so deep in their pockets that his suit is made from lint.

    • Jim Barrett

      You are right on and I’m shocked to see what he has done to this state when it comes to power. He created a huge monopoly and not one word from anyone in Montpelier as to why . We are being bought and sold like a bunch of slaves.

  • Dave Stevens

    Why is it that folks in this state vent a steady flow of frustration with the administration’s policies and at the same time continue to cast votes for Governor Shumlin? If your upset with Governor Shumlin, then why not express your displeasure with your vote? Be brave and break free from the rank and file. The complacency with voters in Vermont is staggering.

    • Brian McAllister

      Some of us did do that, but our guy did not win. Am I still allowed to vent Dave?

      • Dave Stevens

        Hey Brian, thanks for responding. My post was pointed at Shumlin supporters who continue to show support for the governor despite their discontent and fear of change politically speaking. Sorry, I thought I was clear on that. Therefore, you are still allowed to vent Brian.

        • Brian McAllister

          LOL, okay. I do feel you though. This is Vermont, and it is somehow normal here. I noticed first YEARS ago with my Grandfather. All he did was complain about Dean (and he was right to complain about him), but then we would vote for him again. That seems to be the norm here in Vermont.

          I was told last year that I should run for selectman or another office in the state by a bunch of people where I live. They then got upset with me when I told them that I would not do it for two reasons.

          1. I have a bad habit of saying what I mean (which is political suicide).

          2. they would just end up voting for the same people they are upset with and want me to replace anyway.

          The “old boy network” is alive, strong and well here in Vermont.