A toxic new threat to Sebago Lake

ExxonMobil wants to use an antiquated oil pipeline that passes right next to Sebago Lake to transport highly corrosive tar sands oil from Canada to Casco Bay for export. A tar sands spill in the Sebago watershed, or near any of Maine’s waterways, would be utterly disastrous.

We’re urging Maine’s elected officials to do everything in their power to stop this reckless project. 

The dirtiest oil on earth

Tar sands oil is very different than conventional oil.

Tar sands isn’t even a liquid. It’s a sticky, peanut butter-like substance, diluted with benzene and other chemicals to allow it to flow through pipelines. 

Tar sands oil is much more corrosive to pipelines than conventional oil. And because it’s thicker (as much as 70 times more viscous) than conventional oil, enormous pressure is needed to move it through pipelines. These factors, and others, greatly increase the risk of spills, like Enbridge’s spill of 1 million gallons of tar sands oil into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River in July 2010.

Tar sands oil spills are nearly impossible to clean up, since the heavy tar sands sink in water, making the tools we use to clean up conventional oil spills, like booms and skimmers, practically useless. The EPA has determined that a 30-mile stretch of the Kalamazoo River is essentially permanently polluted.

Tar sands oil also is the dirtiest oil on earth. Increased reliance on tar sands oil is frustrating our ability to limit global warming and, if fully developed, would mean “game over for the climate,” according to Dr. James Hansen, NASA’s top climate scientist. In addition, the production of tar sands oil is destroying vast swaths of boreal forest, harming wildlife, and much more.

Tar sands oil is oversupplied in Canada and the Upper Midwest, so oil companies are pushing feverishly to get it to an oil port in order to access the world oil market and increase their already massive profits.

At risk: A Maine treasure

Sebago Lake is a Maine treasure—we escape there on hot summer days, we drink its water, and we watch our kids grow up on its shores. Families visit summer after summer, generation after generation to enjoy the lake and all it has to offer.

In addition to being a favorite place to swim, boat, and fish for generations of Mainers, Sebago Lake provides clean drinking water to the Greater Portland Area. It’s one of only a few drinking water supplies around the country that is so clean it doesn’t require an expensive filtration system.

We like to think Sebago Lake will always be as pure and welcoming as it is today. But if ExxonMobil succeeds with their dangerous plan to pump tar sands right through the Sebago watershed, the threat to the lake will be enormous.

With your help, we can protect Sebago Lake and keep Maine tar sands-free

Sebago Lake should remain pristine—a source of pure, clean drinking water and a place our families can enjoy for generations to come. And tar sands should remain in the ground. We have vast untapped reserves of clean energy and energy efficiency that don’t pollute and never run out.

Citizens, land owners, sportsmen, community leaders, and many others in Maine and across the region are coming together to stop the pipeline project. 

We’re asking our elected officials at the local, state and federal levels to do everything in their power to stop the pipeline.

That means passing local resolutions and ordinances opposing the pipeline, passing legislation in the State House to create a Tar Sands Oil Spill Fund, convincing the EPA and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to establish rigorous safety standards for pipelines carrying tar sands oil, and convincing the State Department to require a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement.

Going toe-to-toe with ExxonMobil and other oil industry giants is no easy task and will take a powerful movement of people coming together to keep Maine tar sands-free. If enough of us speak out, we can protect Sebago Lake.

Join our campaign by sending your senators a message today.

Issue updates

News Release | Environment Maine

Hundreds of Local Businesses Call for Keeping Tar Sands Out of So. Portland

South Portland—Protect South Portland this morning released a list of 216 South Portland businesses opposed to exporting tar sands out of Casco Bay. The businesses expressed deepseated concerns about the impacts tar sands could have on South Portland’s drinking water, air quality, coastal resources, economy, quality of life and property values.

> Keep Reading
News Release | Environment Maine

Environment Maine Praises Senators for Confirming Gina McCarthy to Lead the EPA

The U.S. Senate today confirmed Gina McCarthy as the new Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King voted to confirm Ms. McCarthy. The confirmation comes just weeks after President Obama instructed the EPA to take historic action to cut carbon pollution from power plants as part of his plan to fight global warming. Environment Maine Director Emily Figdor issued the following statement in response:

“Gina McCarthy’s confirmation is great news for Maine’s environment.

> Keep Reading

Arkansas spill raises concerns on piping tar sands oil through New England

The recent spill of Canadian heavy crude oil from a ruptured ExxonMobil pipeline in Mayflower, Ark., which forced the evacuation of 22 homes, has added fuel to the heated debate over the proposed Keystone XL pipeline that would bring heavy crude from the tar sands of Western Canada to Texas refineries along the Gulf of Mexico. The Arkansas spill comes only a month after the Environmental Protection Agency ordered the Canadian firm Enbridge to conduct yet more cleanups on a 2010 rupture and spill of heavy tar sands crude in the Kalamazoo River in Michigan. Now at $1 billion, that cleanup is the most expensive for an onshore spill in US history. The National Transportation Safety Board determined that Enbridge ignored pipeline cracks for years and did not detect the rupture for more than 17 hours.

> Keep Reading


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