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Press Release

For Immediate Release
April 22, 2013

Contact:
Communications Office
(603)271-2121

Governor Hassan Calls on Federal Government to Protect NH from Potentially Dangerous Tar Sands Oil Pipeline
Sends Letter to Secretary of State Kerry Calling for Scrutiny of Potential Pipeline Changes

CONCORD - To ensure that New Hampshire's economy and environment are protected from potentially dangerous diluted bitumen oil, or "tar sands oil," pipelines, Governor Maggie Hassan sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry calling for the State Department to conduct a thorough environmental and permitting process before allowing any existing pipelines in New Hampshire to transport tar sands oil.

Currently, two conventional crude oil pipelines owned by the Portland Pipe Line Corporation (PPLC) travel through five New Hampshire towns and end in Montreal. PPLC has considered changing the contents of those pipelines to tar sands oil, which is more difficult to clean up following spills than conventional crude.

Under federal law, the Secretary of State has the authority to issue Presidential permits for the construction, connection, operation, or maintenance of certain facilities, including pipelines, at the borders of the United States with Canada. This authority applies not only to all new border crossings, but to all substantial modifications of existing crossings at the international border.

Any plans to change the direction of the flow of the pipelines and/or its contents demands a new permit application and all environmental reviews that come with it, Governor Hassan said.

"I am writing to ask you to act to protect New Hampshire's economy and environment," Governor Hassan wrote. "The State of New Hampshire has limited authority over pipelines that cross state borders and therefore relies heavily on federal review and regulation. It also receives little or no benefit from their presence in the state. However, should anything go wrong with such a pipeline - a leak or worse - New Hampshire's taxpayers bear the responsibility and cost of cleanup.

"Moreover, the residents of the five towns through which the decades-old pipeline crosses - Lancaster, Jefferson, Randolph, Gorham and Shelburne - are likely to suffer the most direct impact of any spill or leak," Governor Hassan continued. "It is also likely that our rivers and streams would bear the brunt of the environmental impact of a release, threatening the vital tourism industry and natural resources on which the entire state relies."

There is currently a lack of consensus surrounding best practices for tar sands oil pipelines. The Transportation Research Board (TRB), with the National Academy of Sciences, is now studying whether diluted bitumen is more likely than other crude oils to cause leaks, spills or other disruptions in pipelines. Findings from the study are expected to be released next spring.

"With such concerns at the forefront of our minds, I hope that you agree that the State Department should require a new Presidential Permit and conduct a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act, for any change in the use of this pipeline," Governor Hassan wrote.

Full text of the Governor's letter to Secretary of State Kerry is below.

April 22, 2013

The Honorable John Kerry
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC, 20520

Dear Secretary Kerry:

I am writing to ask you to act to protect New Hampshire's economy and environment.

Two pipelines owned by the Portland Pipe Line Corporation currently have the capability to carry conventional crude oil in a westerly direction, starting in Maine, traveling through five New Hampshire towns, and ending in Montreal.

In 2008, the PPLC sought to reverse the direction of the pipes and pump diluted bitumen oil - frequently referred to as "tar sands oil" or "dilbit" - instead of conventional crude. Although that plan stalled, we remain concerned that the project will be resurrected - with potentially devastating consequences for New Hampshire.

If PPLC seeks to transport Canadian diluted bitumen oil through the infrastructure that historically has been dedicated to conventional crude oil, I respectfully request that the State Department require a new Presidential Permit and conduct a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act. Such a request from PPLC would constitute a major substantive change in the use of the pipeline, which requires those important reviews.

The best practices for transporting diluted bitumen oil are unclear. The Transportation Research Board (TRB) with the National Academy of Sciences is now studying whether diluted bitumen is more likely than other crude oils to cause leaks, spills or other disruptions in pipelines. A committee is expected to release initial findings by next spring.

Such uncertainty about the risks and best practices for dilbit must also be put in the context of current regulations over pipeline infrastructure.

The State of New Hampshire has limited authority over pipelines that cross state borders and therefore relies heavily on federal review and regulation. It also receives little or no benefit from their presence in the state. However, should anything go wrong with such a pipeline - a leak or worse - New Hampshire's taxpayers bear the responsibility and cost of cleanup.

Moreover, the residents of the five towns through which the decades-old pipeline crosses - Lancaster, Jefferson, Randolph, Gorham and Shelburne - are likely to suffer the most direct impact of any spill or leak. It is also likely that our rivers and streams would bear the brunt of the environmental impact of a release, threatening the vital tourism industry and natural resources on which the entire state relies.

So many pipelines crisscross our state and nation that it could become easy to be complacent about their safety, but we are obliged to ensure that the pipelines crossing our state are sufficiently safe for transporting substances such as dilbit.

If the experience of the residents in Marshall, Michigan is at all instructive, we must be vigilant about any changes to the pipeline in New Hampshire.

In 2010, a six-and-a-half foot tear erupted in a carbon steel pipeline in the community. Two years later, the cost of cleanup has exceeded $765 million, miles of the Kalamazoo River have been compromised, 150 families have been permanently relocated and the environmental rehabilitation is ongoing.

With such concerns at the forefront of our minds, I hope that you agree that the State Department should require a new Presidential Permit and conduct a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act, for any change in the use of this pipeline.

With every good wish,

Margaret Wood Hassan
Governor