Tar sands: about them, & Portland action Saturday

Tue, Jan 22, 2013


The first footnote to this article points to a piece ( that is extremely helpful if, like me, you’ve been a bit in the dark about the reality of tar sands. Several key points are: * Tar sand is called bitumen, it is thick and granular * To move it, it is diluted with volatile organic “diluents” and called “dilbit” * The diluents, like fracking fluid, are proprietary secrets * Dilbit is close to water’s density, but generally 50-70% of its components are heavier than water * In a pipeline spill on/in water, the dilbit might sink, or it might interact with silt and become heavy enough to sink, or the diluents will evaporate, leaving the heavier residue to sink * Cleaning up a spill that you can’t see on the bottom of a river/lake is far more difficult (and damaging to the bottom) than a crude oil spill. * The Marshall spill on the Kalamazoo river in 2010 was the worst in U.S. history, but also the first major dilbit spill. Crude spills tend to run about $2000/barrel to clean up. The Marshall spill was $29,000/barrel! * Shortly after the spill, dilbit was exempted from the tax on pipeline transmission that provides financing for spill cleanup. Dick ——– Original Message ——– This is going to be big. On Saturday, Jan. 26, people from all over Maine and the Northeast are coming to Portland to *stop ExxonMobil from using Maine as a conduit for it’s tar sands oil—the dirtiest oil on earth*. Exxon, the biggest of Big Oil, wants to use a pipeline built in 1950 to carry tar sands oil from Canada to Casco Bay, where it would be loaded onto tankers for export. Even worse? *The old pipeline passes right next to Sebago Lake.* *Will you come to the march and rally on Saturday, Jan. 26, in Portland? *The event starts at 11:30 a.m. in Monument Square, and we’ll march to the Maine State Pier for the rally, which starts at 1:00 p.m. Pipelines carrying this thick oil are more prone to spills, in part because enormous pressure is needed to move it through a pipeline. And tar sands spills are nearly impossible to clean up because the heavy oil tends to sink in water. [1] *A spill in the Sebago Lake watershed, or in Casco Bay, would be devastating. *The dirty oil also is an enormous threat to our climate. [2] We can stop the project by convincing President Obama and the U.S. State Department to require a thorough environmental review. But to do that, we need to show the president that the pipeline is extremely unpopular. And with the final with segment of the pipeline getting approved right now in Canada, there’s no time to waste. [3] Maine has nothing to gain and so much to lose from Exxon’s reckless project, and it’s going to take an army of us to go toe-to-toe with Exxon. Thanks for all that you do. Emily Figdor Environment Maine Director [1] Lisa Song, “A Dilbit Primer: How It’s Different from Conventional Oil,”, Inside Climate News, 26 June 2012. [2] James Hansen, “Game Over for the Climate,”, New York Times, op-ed, 9 May 2012. [3] John Balentine, “Filing Spurs New Volley in Pipeline Controversy,” Lakes Region Weekly, 6 December 2012. _______________________________________________ HCCN mailing list

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