Days before what they are billing as the biggest anti-tar-sands rally ever in the Northeast, environmental activists gathered first at Portland City Hall and then outside of the Portland Pipe Line Corporation headquarters in South Portland this morning.
At City Hall, mayor Michael Brennan and city councilor Dave Marshall spoke in support fo a new Environmental Performance Policy that would make the city "tar-sands free" by directing city manager Mark Rees "not to purchase any oil-based fuels from refineries that process tar sands."
A group of environmental organizations is calling attention to the fact the ExxonMobil -- the world's largest company by revenue -- is the majority owner (at 76 percent) of the oil pipeline that runs through Maine, past the Androscoggin and Crooked rivers, and Sebago Lake. This is the pipeline that I wrote about earlier this summer -- the one that oil giants want to use to pump tar sands from Western Canada to the Portland Harbor.
Anyone who thinks that January's much-hyped news about the Keystone XL pipeline is the ultimate victory against tar sands oil is sorely mistaken. In fact, there is a plan in the works to potentially pump such heavy, viscous oil into Portland.
Next week, the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Council of Maine will bring national enviro experts to the University of Southern Maine to outline about what this could mean for Maine, our environment, and our drinking water (Bill McKibben, who was in town just recently and is a leading activist against Big Oil, will supposedly be Skyping in).