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Coalition Files Petition to Tighten Tar Sands Pipeline Transport Rules

A coalition of conservation and environmental groups is asking the federal government to tighten regulations governing pipeline safety standards as concerns rise over the possibility that tar sands oil may be shipped through a line across New England.

Members of the coalition held a conference call Tuesday morning to announce that they have filed a petition with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline Hazardous Material Safety Administration.  National Wildlife Federation Lead Counsel Jim Murphy explains that new rules are needed due to what he calls the unique risks inherent with tar sands oil.

The Portland Montreal Pipeline carries oil through New England. While the company has repeatedly said it has no current plans to reverse its flow in order to transport tar sands, it would welcome such an opportunity. Art Greene, a director of the Ammonoosuc Chapter of Trout Unlimited New Hampshire, worries that the pipeline is too old to handle the material safely.

The pipeline cuts through a small corner of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, including part of Brent Kinsley’s property.

American Petroleum Institute Pipeline Director Peter Lidiak says the groups filed their petition based on an incorrect premise.

The coalition filing the petition includes 56 groups and individuals from the Northeast and Midwest.

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