Pipeline officials to be invited back
Portland-Montreal Pipe Line executives will get a chance to make their case for pipeline safety to Bethel residents Feb. 27.
They were denied that opportunity Jan. 30 at a special town meeting.
At that meeting a resolution was approved that opposed a potential reversal of the direction of oil flow through a PMPL pipeline that passes through Bethel as it carries crude oil to Montreal.
Resolution supporters worry PMPL might reverse the flow in order to carry diluted bitumen (“tar sands”) oil from Canada to Portland, and that the composition of that oil would increase the likelihood of a pipeline break or spill.
The Jan. 30 vote was taken before the oil industry representatives, several of whom traveled here from Portland and Boston, could speak. A motion to “call the question” (stop debate and vote) was quickly made and approved after only three people had spoken, all of them in favor of the resolution.
“That’s not the way we do business,” said Selectman Don Bennett at Monday’s board meeting.
He said that after the town meeting ended, he regretted he hadn't spoken up to allow more debate.
Town Manager Jim Doar said, “Any one of us sitting up at that table could have, should have."
Selectman Peter Southam said he believed that many people at the town meeting were “rusty” on their understanding of the rules of order of a meeting, resulting in confusion when the vote was taken on calling the question.
Added Bennett, “I had questions myself for [the officials] that they might not want to answer.”
After Monday’s discussion selectmen decided to hold a public forum, with a presentation by pipeline officials and a question and answer session, Feb 27 at 7 p.m. at the Telstar High School Auditorium.