Tar sands

To the Editor:

Have you heard about this new crude oil called Tar Sands? And how they could potentially be traveling through our backyards?

We just learned about tar sands in our class at Lyndon State College and we are concerned by the effects it has had on other communities and the risks it presents to our communities.

The Portland-Montreal pipeline is laid across forty miles of Vermont's Northeast Kingdom on its way to ports in South Portland, Maine. The pipeline runs through North Troy, Jay, Newport, Irasburg, Barton, Burke, Sutton, Victory, Lunenburg, and Guildhall as well as seven watersheds, and fifteen bodies of water.

Exxon-Mobil and Suncor are attempting to send a type of oil through the pipeline called tar sands. Tar sands are different from other types of oil due to its density. They are almost a solid substance. They are so dense that they need a five-to-one ratio of water, toxic chemicals, and an immense amount of pressure to push through hundreds of miles of pipeline.

The Montreal-Portland pipeline is over 60 years old and has outlived its lifespan. Tar sands are abrasive and can cause friction putting additional wear on the pipes which increases the possibility of a spill or leak. If this crude oil is transported through the Northeast Kingdom it has the potential to put our families, communities, and environment in jeopardy. Our drinking water, produce, wildlife, & air quality would be at risk should spills occur.

All across the country there have been serious consequences due to tar sands traveling through pipe lines. Devastating spills involving tar sands happened in Mayflower, Arkansas and Kalamazoo, Michigan, and most recently in Lake Michigan which is the drinking water supply for over one million people.

Our communities will not benefit from this. These tar sands would not be used as an energy source for New England. Instead they would be transported to Portland, Maine where they would be off-loaded and sent overseas destined for China. As a state known for its commitment to the environment we cannot allow large corporations to take advantage of our beautiful landscape by risking oil spills and breaks in the outdated pipelines.

The Portland, Maine community has shown us their courage. They came together and generated almost 4000 signatures in a petition to protect South Portland from tar sands. They passed a "Clear Skies Ordinance" which prohibits the bulk loading of crude oil, including tar sands, onto tankers on the waterfront, as well as new related infrastructure in the city. Their movement is inspirational and demonstrates how local democracy can stand up to the fossil fuel industry.

As we learned more about the risks tar sands pose to the NEK, we wanted to educate our community further so we are helping to organize an informational event. To learn more about the effect that tar sands has had on other communities, what effect it could have on ours, and how local democracy in Portland, ME has made a difference in this struggle, we invite you to join us at 6:00 pm on Wednesday, November 19th at Lyndon State College in the Moore Community Room. We will be holding an event featuring Jade Walker from 350 Vermont; K.C. Whiteley 350 Vermont board member and a Vermont delegate to the Healing Walk in Alberta, Canada; Eben Rose from Protect South Portland; and Bob Klotz from 350 Maine. Refreshments will be provided.

Al Pransky

Lyndonville, Vt.

Editor's note: Nine other people from the Macro Perspectives in Human Services class at Lyndon State College endorsed this letter. Their names are on file for review.


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