Possible Portland-Montreal pipeline reversal concerns NH lawmakers

New Hampshire’s congressional delegation is urging the State Department to thoroughly review any proposal by the operator of the Portland-Montreal Pipe Line to use it carry oil from Canada’s oil sands to the United States.

The pipeline is currently permitted to carry oil from Portland, Maine, on the Atlantic coast, to Montreal, via New Hampshire, the New Hampshire Union Leader reported.

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But its operator, the Portland Pipe Line Corp. (PPLC), has studied in recent years whether it could be used, along with other pipelines in Canada, to bring oil from Alberta’s oil sands to Portland. Canadian officials have already approved carrying oil sands products in the Canadian portion of the pipeline, the Union Leader said.

The proposed Keystone XL pipeline is also designed to carry oil from Alberta to the U.S. for refining. Environmental groups have objected, saying oil sands petroleum is harmful to the environment.

In their letter last week, New Hampshire’s delegation said the PPLC’s operating permit in the U.S. allows Secretary of State John Kerry to review any proposal to reverse the pipeline’s flow.

The delegation said that if the PPLC proposes to move oil sands products, “it is important for the State Department to conduct a transparent and thorough environmental and safety review of the proposal as part of a new presidential permit process.” The letter was signed by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D) and Kelly Ayotte (R) and Reps. Carol Shea-Porter (D) and Ann McLane (D).

Despite the study and Canada’s approval, a PPLC spokesman told the Union Leader that there is currently no plan to reverse the pipeline’s flow to carry oil out of Canada.