The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Historic Win in Maine’s Battle Over Tar Sands
An historic vote in Maine reaffirms that residents want to keep toxic tar sands at bay.
Yesterday, South Portland City Council voted 6-1 to pass the Clear Skies Ordinance, which prohibits bulk loading of tar sands onto tankers at the waterfront and the construction of any infrastructure that would be used for that purpose.
Natural Resources Council of Maine staff members (from left) Judy Berk, Lisa Pohlmann, Emmie Theberge and Dylan Voorhees give the "thumbs up" to South Portland City Council's vote in support of the Clear Skies Ordinance. Photo credit: Natural Resources Council of Maine
A number of groups, including Protect South Portland, Natural Resources Council of Maine and Environment Maine, have weighed in on the issue after finding that the pipeline transfer and bulk loading of tar sands on the waterfront would increase toxic air pollution, including volatile organic compounds; contribute to climate change threats; pose unacceptable risks of pipelines leaks into lakes and rivers; threaten wildlife; and harm property values.
The bulk loading of crude has never been done in South Portland, and the city plans to keep it that way. This is the first time in which a U.S. city considering loading tar sands oil onto tankers has banned the activity.
“Tonight’s victory shows that no one is above the democratic process, and when out-of-state oil interests try to throw their weight around to pollute a Maine town, we know how to say ‘no,’” said Lisa Pohlmann, executive director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “As South Portland goes, so goes the nation. Communities everywhere are waking up to the fact that tar sands are a dirty, toxic energy source.”
Photo credit: Protect South Portland
In March, the National Energy Board of Canada approved a proposal by Enbridge to reverse the flow and increase the amount of tar sands oil flowing through its pipeline from Ontario to Quebec, connecting Alberta’s tar sands to Montreal. This has raised concern among Maine residents and other New Englanders that ExxonMobil’s Portland-Montreal pipeline will be the subsequent route for the oil industry to access an export port to send tar sands overseas. A number of towns in Maine have passed resolutions opposing sending tar sands through the Portland-Montreal pipeline.
The passing of the ordinance is seen as “a true David versus Goliath victory.” “The oil industry is not invincible, and the exploitation of tar sands is not inevitable,” said Environment Maine Director Emily Figdor. “From Nebraska to Maine, citizens are standing up, and powerfully so, to protect their communities—and we are winning. We’re hopeful that South Portland’s action will empower other communities threatened by new tar sands infrastructure to protect themselves."
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Emily Deanne
Shower shoes? Check. Extra-long sheets? Yep. Energy efficiency checklist? No worries — we've got you covered there. If you're one of the nation's 12.1 million full-time undergraduate college students, you no doubt have a lot to keep in mind as you head off to school. If you're reading this, climate change is probably one of them, and with one-third of students choosing to live on campus, dorm life can have a big impact on the health of our planet. In fact, the annual energy use of one typical dormitory room can generate as much greenhouse gas pollution as the tailpipe emissions of a car driven more than 156,000 miles.
By Lorraine Chow
Kokia drynarioides is a small but significant flowering tree endemic to Hawaii's dry forests. Native Hawaiians used its large, scarlet flowers to make lei. Its sap was used as dye for ropes and nets. Its bark was used medicinally to treat thrush.
States that invest heavily in renewable energy will generate billions of dollars in health benefits in the next decade instead of spending billions to take care of people getting sick from air pollution caused by burning fossil fuels, according to a new study from MIT and reported on by The Verge.
Hawaii's Kilauea volcano could be gearing up for an eruption after a pond of water was discovered inside its summit crater for the first time in recorded history, according to the AP.
By Kristin Ohlson
From where I stand inside the South Dakota cornfield I was visiting with entomologist and former USDA scientist Jonathan Lundgren, all the human-inflicted traumas to Earth seem far away. It isn't just that the corn is as high as an elephant's eye — are people singing that song again? — but that the field burgeons and buzzes and chirps with all sorts of other life, too.
Humanity faced its hottest month in at least 140 years in July, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said on Thursday. The finding confirms similar analysis provided by its EU counterparts.
By Hans Nicholas Jong
Indonesia's president has made permanent a temporary moratorium on forest-clearing permits for plantations and logging.
It's a policy the government says has proven effective in curtailing deforestation, but whose apparent gains have been criticized by environmental activists as mere "propaganda."