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N.H. Has Authority Over Any "Sizeable Change" To Portland-Montreal Pipeline

A.F. Litt
Flickr Creative Commons

The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services says it might have authority over a controversial project to reverse a crude oil pipeline that crosses the North Country. In a memo DES says while pipelines are regulated by the federal government, it would need to issue a permit for any quote “sizeable change or addition” to line. It does not specify if it considers reversing the flow of the line would be considered such a change.

This matters because, for monthsenvironmental groups have been saying that the owners of the Portland-Montreal Pipeline are planning to reverse the line and ship crude from the Alberta oil-sands across the Granite State.

The company has consistently said that no such plan is in the works, but the CEO of the company, Larry Wilson, did recently tell the Vermont Legislature this.

Wilson: I want to be clear, while we do not have a project today, we’re aggressively pursuing every opportunity to make use of these excellent assets, and that includes the possibility of reversing our pipeline, and it includes the possibility of moving oil from the western Canadian Oil sands.

If the pipeline were reversed, it would carry the same oil that is envisioned for the embattled Keystone XL pipeline. Environmentalists have been protesting the extraction of that oil, saying that it takes more energy and more environmental damage to extract it. They also say when this oil spills, because it is 

Credit wikipedia
The pipeline crosses through the North Country along Rt. 2.

  heavier, it is much more difficult to clean up.

One bone of contention is whether this oil is more likely to spill. The National Academy of Sciences is engaged in study that is attempting to determine if oil-sands crude is more corrosive to the interior of oil pipelines, the results of which are expected in the spring of 2014.

Sam Evans-Brown has been working for New Hampshire Public Radio since 2010, when he began as a freelancer. He shifted gears in 2016 and began producing Outside/In, a podcast and radio show about “the natural world and how we use it.” His work has won him several awards, including two regional Edward R. Murrow awards, one national Murrow, and the Overseas Press Club of America's award for best environmental reporting in any medium. He studied Politics and Spanish at Bates College, and before reporting was variously employed as a Spanish teacher, farmer, bicycle mechanic, ski coach, research assistant, a wilderness trip leader and a technical supporter.

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