Objection to tar sands in Vermont

To the Editor:

As a resident of the Northeast Kingdom, I am writing in opposition to any proposal to reverse the ExxonMobil's Portland to Montreal Pipeline to transport Canadian tar sands crude oil- some of the dirtiest oil on the planet. Extraction and refining Tar sands takes vast amounts of energy, water and harmful chemicals while destroying large swaths of Alberta's Boreal Forest while generating three times the global warming pollution than most conventional oil. The potential of having this oil transported through all three of Vermont's major regional watersheds through Orleans, Caledonia and Essex Counties in some of Vermont's largest wild contiguous ecosystems and is a matter of great significance that gives me an uneasy feeling.

Tar Sands moving through the Northeast Kingdom's pipeline would present a huge risk to wildlife habitat, our health, quality life, and ecosystem services while supporting the continued disregard to the connection to fossil fuel extraction and public use of these fuels to climate change.

The pipeline here periodically transports conventional crude oil north from Portland, Maine to Montreal. Because of the physical properties of tar sands oil being transported in the reversed direction in this aging pipeline would compromise the system. There have been two spills on this line, which is enough, but a Tar Sands spill is much more difficult to clean up and would leave lasting damage in the watersheds. In 2010, 800,000 gallons of this substance spilled from an Enbridge Pipeline in Michigan, covering 40 miles of the Kalamazoo River with oil, sinking to the bottom and mixing with sediment. Three years and $1 billion dollars later the spill is still not cleaned up. Last March, a pipeline very similar to the Northeast Kingdom pipeline in age and size burst in Mayflower Arkansas, devastating entire neighborhoods, causing widespread health issues, polluted water supplies and destroyed wildlife habitat.

All of these hazardous risks are liabilities for Vermont in exchange for no community assets or benefits. Enbridge, ExxonMobil and other fossil fuel companies would gain enormously at the expense of Vermonters, the beloved nourishing landscape and at the sacrificed possibility of having an industry driven dependable renewable energy sources without further delay.

We have the responsibility to be proactive about resist the flow of the Tar Sands through our communities before the industries gains ground. A fully developed extraction of the Alberta Tar Sands would be destroy forest ecosystems the size of Florida, and would contbrute to global warming temperatures rising far more than ~3 degrees Fahrenheit the internationally accepted threshold at which we will begin to see catastrophic effects of changing climate.

Last year, 29 towns throughout Vermont passed resolutions stating their opposition to the transport of Tar Sands through Vermont and I want my town to join them. The oil industries needs to know that we are watching them and that we will stand up for water, air, and our children's future. I encourage everyone to join the effort by passing a resolution in our town and making an effort where you can to reduce your contribution to our looming climate crisis.

Sarah Damsell

Westmore, Vt.


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