13 Towns Pass Anti-Tar Sands Resolutions
By Amy Kolb Noyes
Voters in Albany, Barton, Glover, Hartland, Jay, Richmond, Sheffield, Shelburne, Stannard, Stafford, Sutton, Westmore, and Wheelock passed anti-tar sands resolutions at Town Meeting this year.
The issue was also on the Town Meeting warning in Burke, but voters there decided to table a vote after some discussion.
According to the organization 350 Vermont, 41 Vermont towns to date have voted to oppose transporting tar sands oil through Vermont. The reason why this issue continues to be introduced at Town Meetings around the state is that Portland Pipe Line Corp., the owner of an existing pipeline that passes through the Northeast Kingdom, has expressed an interest in using that pipeline to transport tar sands oil in the future.
The Portland-Montreal pipeline, built in the 1950s, runs from Portland, Maine to Montreal. The pipeline intersects the Missisquoi, Connecticut and Barton Rivers, as well as Victory Bog. It also runs beside Crystal Lake.
Portland Pipe Line Corp. has considered reversing the pipeline's flow and using it to transport diluted tar sands bitumen from Canada to Portland.
Last April, District 7 Environmental Coordinator Kristen Sultan ruled that reversing the flow of the pipeline to carry the material would constitute a change of use and trigger Act 250 review. Portland Pipe Line Corp. appealed the Sultan's decision, and in September the district coordinator issued a revised jurisdictional order that upheld her original conclusion.