The controversial Canadian tar sands oil is being produced far from Vermont, but environmental groups are worried the oil might one day flow through the state. That's why lawmakers are considering a bill that would require an Act 250 permit for it to be piped through Vermont.
The 236-mile Portland pipeline runs from Maine to Montreal, carrying oil through the heart of the Northeast Kingdom. Critics worry the owner of the pipeline has plans to reverse the flow as part of a larger effort to export the tar sands oil. Portland Pipeline Corp. CEO Larry Wilson says there is no such project in the works, but says he would like to pursue one in the future. He calls Vermont's pending legislation discriminatory.
"They have natural resources the world needs and for us to say if they want to move their natural resources through your pipeline then we want to potentially delay or impede the ability to do that, I struggle with that quite frankly," Wilson said.
Portland Pipeline says the market will dictate if and when such a reversal project makes economic sense. The company that controls the tar sands oil says it has no plans to use the Portland pipeline.