Protecting New England from the Devastation of Tar Sands Gas

Sean Mahoney | @SeanCLF

tar-sands

Emergency crews work to clean up an oil spill in Mayflower, Arkansas.

In the battle to arrest and then decrease our collective carbon emissions, tar sands oil is the equivalent of a carbon bomb. The process of extracting oil from this primordial ooze makes the end product the most carbon intensive fuel in the world — not to mention the corresponding environmental devastation to extraction sites. For these reasons, any group serious about climate change, including Conservation Law Foundation, vigorously opposes the efforts by oil companies like Shell or ExxonMobil to expand the markets for this bomb through pipelines or rail transit.

New England is very much at risk, because of the proposed reversal of the pipeline that now carries oil from Portland, Maine, to Montreal, coursing through communities in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont and along, under or over prized rivers, lakes and wild life areas. The proposed reversal would see tar sands oil pumped from Montreal to South Portland and then out through Casco Bay — a proposal that has concerned communities in all three states since it was first raised years ago. You can read more about the threat of this proposal in this Fact Sheet. The transport of tar sands oil from western Canada to markets in the U.S. presents real and catastrophic risk to communities and natural resources, as we have so tragically learned from spills in the Kalamazoo River in Michigan, and the towns of Mayflower, Arkansas and Lac-Mégantic, Quebec.

Tar sands oil also poses the very real threat of dramatically increasing the carbon foot print of gasoline in the Northeast, taking us backwards in our efforts to combat climate change. As this recent report from NRDC makes clear, at present, the region is virtually tar sands free but if ExxonMobil and others have their way, as much as 18% of the regions fuel supply could be derived from tar sands oil. CLF is committed to ensuring that tar sands-derived gas does not play a role in our energy future and is instead continuing to work to enact a clean fuel standard for the region.          

While most in New England have yet to experience firsthand the devastation wreaked by the extraction and processing of tar sands in Western Canada, CLF is proud to sponsor, along with other partners, a speakers tour of people with unique perspectives who live with and have recorded this travesty. The tour will be making stops in Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Maine. Listening to the stories of people directly impacted by tar sands oil extraction is an opportunity to make tangible just how damaging this carbon bomb is today. I hope you’ll join us at one of the venues. 

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