Bill To Require Act 250 Review Of Pipeline Change

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Less than a year after Vermont became the first state to ban hydraulic fracturing, lawmakers may again look at the environmental impact of fossil fuels.

David Deen is a Westminster Democrat who chairs the House Fish,Wildlife and Water Resources Committee. He’s introduced a bill that would require a state Act 250 land use permit for any change in use for existing oil pipelines in Vermont.

Environmentalists are concerned that a pipeline that now carries oil from Portland, Maine to Montreal would be reversed to carry tar-sands oil from western Canada across Vermont.

Deen says tar-sands oil is more abrasive and is transported at hotter temperatures than regular crude oil, increasing the risk of an accident.

"The fact is that the pipeline goes through some very sensitive areas, Victory Bog and up into the Lake Willoughby area," he said. "And those are pretty sensitive areas. And you’re going to change the dynamics of that pipe. It’s going to be hotter than if it is at it moves oil."

Energy companies have said they have no firm plans to reverse the flow of the pipeline.

But environmentalists say the developers are putting the project together in piece-meal fashion. They point to a recent decision that would allow the fuel to flow east from Ontario to Montreal. They worry the next step would involve the Vermont section of the line.

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