After hours of public comment on Monday night, the Portland City Council altered a resolution from “opposing” Tar Sands oils from Canada to merely expressing “concern“ about blasting the heated mixture under Sebago Lake through the Portland-Montreal pipeline.
I am writing because I find it highly disturbing that City Council members Ed Suslovic, Nick Mavadones, and Cheryl Lehman can claim ignorance to the issue of transporting Tar Sands under Portland’s water supply. Time and again, national news has reported the devastating and damaging effects of Tar Sands spills upon property, burning toxic chemicals into the air, and spilling and mixing into drinking water.
During the Monday night meeting I inadvertently sat next to a Canadian representative for the oil industry and several representatives from the Portland Pipeline. There were dozens of people from all walks of life who expressed support for the resolution and only a few men who spoke against the resolution. In fact, the only person not tied to the transport of oil in Portland who supported Tar Sands admitted that he was a child of the oil industry.
Bitumen is a chemical contained in the “proprietary blend” of Tar Sands, which will be burned and released into the air through smoke stacks in South Portland. Bitumen and possibly other chemicals such as benzene contained in the blend are known carcinogens. It is against the common good of people in Maine to support foreign oil corporations who intend to poison our basic resources in order to transport their toxic product for export.
The admitted ignorance of the City Council can only be countered with a strong push by constituents to inform their representatives. Suslovic, Mavadones, and Lehman should ask their children and grandchildren if they would like to be breathing in bitumen for years to come. I do not believe that merely “concern” about pervasive chemicals in our land, air, and drinking water is enough. Should we be lead to believe that representatives on City Council are only “concerned” about the higher rates of cancer linked to burning and spilling Tar Sands, but not opposed to it? I think not.
Here is the Portland Press Herald article about the resolution: