Casco resolution: Tar sands oil unwelcome

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

CASCO — For several residents of the area, the idea of a potential tar sands oil spill is scary.

Those community members spoke out against a proposal to use an existing pipeline to pump tar sands oil from the boreal forest in Canada to Portland for export. Representatives of a Canadian company, Enbridge Inc., and Exxon Mobil Corporation have repeatedly denied there is such a plan, which would call for reversing the direction of the pipeline flow, according to residents’ reports.

But, people are convinced the pipeline plan is on the drawing board and they want it in writing that the transportation of tar sands oil is unwelcome here. The 60-year-old pipeline crosses under Crooked River and also areas of Sebago Lake.

A town-wide resolution to promote alternatives to using the pipeline for tar sands oil is among the issues that will be voted on at a Special Town Meeting on Saturday. The meeting starts at 9 a.m., and will be held at the Casco Community Center.

At Tuesday night’s Casco Board of Selectmen meeting, a handful of residents spoke in favor of the resolution, and urged community members to support that warrant at town meeting.

One local resident, Connie Cross, said that the town manager of neighboring Raymond had been visited by representatives from one of the companies involved in the alleged pipeline proposal. Then, Cross asked Casco Town Manager Dave Morton if he has had a sit down with company officials.

Morton answered, “I did have a visit with representatives from Portland Pipe Line (Corporation.) This was significant because it had never happened before.”

“They said they had no plans for reversing the pipe, and they said no plan was on the table, and they talked about their wonderful track record,” he said.

According to Morton, the Portland Pipe Line employees indicated their willingness to appear at a selectmen’s meeting. They also provided Morton with brochures to pass on to the board members.

Selectman Tracy Kimball asked Morton if he thought a pipeline flow reversal plan was in the making.

“I am not sure I can clarify that. They said they had no plans to reverse the flow,” Morton said.

Author of the resolution, Eric Dibner, who also chairs the Casco Open Space Committee, provided additional information about the pipeline project. He also clarified the purpose of the proposed resolution.

“Enbridge has received the permits to reverse pumping in Montreal. That is the last place before going our way,” he said.

The resolution “doesn’t say we can stop this project. We are dealing with Exxon Mobil — that is the parent company,” Dibner said.

If passed, the resolution would promote the town’s support of clean fuel for the region, he said.

“Finally, the town writes a letter for a clear review of any permitting that needs to happen so that Exxon Mobil doesn’t bowl us over,” Dibner said.

Other warrant items for the Special Town Meeting include allocating additional funds to the legal services fund.

Following several lawsuits in 2012, the town’s legal bills added up to approximately $18,000.

“We had a number of unexpected lawsuits. The one that took up most of the money was filed by Jeannine Oren. We have to cover those costs so we have money to operate for the remainder of the fiscal year,” Morton said.

According to the warrant, $13,500 is needed to cover legal services through June 30.

Also to be voted on during Saturday’s town meeting is the appropriation of funds for Casco’s Animal Control department. According to the warrant, $27,500 would be re-allocated from the Undesignated Fund Balance to the animal control budget.

“We had an emergency with a cat hoarding issue. We still need to provide animal control services into the new fiscal year,” Morton said.

Another warrant item, which was tabled at Town Meeting in June 2012, would create a contract zone for Camp Sunshine. Currently, Camp Sunshine shares zoning with Point Sebago Resort. If passed, the warrant would state that Camp Sunshine and Point Sebago Resort are two separate entities when it comes to zoning.

Representatives of Camp Sunshine have been pursuing the contract zone change prior to appearing before the Casco Planning Board with expansion plans.

A copy of the warrant is available on the town’s website, www.cascomaine.org

 

Please follow and like us: