The House Science, Technology and Energy Committee heard HB 1376 on February 18.
The bill, as introduced, would require the the Department of Environmental Services to examine the potential harm to the public and the environment resulting from the transportation of tar sand oil through the Portland-Montreal Pipeline.
Representative Marcia Hammon introduced the bill on behalf of herself and its other sponsors, outlining the plan for such transportation and some of the anticipated risks. Testimony intended to allay fear of these anticipated risks was given by the Canadian consul.
A DES representative explained that the Department has limited expertise and no regulatory authority with respect to pipelines; if the bill were passed, it would have to sacrifice staff time and budget intended for other responsibilities.
Others testifying in favor of the bill were Cathy Corkery for the Sierra Club; Katie Thomson, a UNH student just completing a research study of the potential impact of the transmission of tar sands oil across northern New Hampshire on local culture, business and tourism; Carol Foss, Audubon Society of New Hampshire; Trudy Mott-Smith and Doug Whitbeck of 350NH.In consideration of further written testimony and an amendment by Rep Marjorie Shepardson spelling out in more detail what would constitute the examination of potential harm to the public and the environment, the Committee appointed a subcommittee to revise the bill.
The revised bill will replace DES with a special legislative committee to carry out the examination, and will possibly expand the charge to include transportation of tar sands oil by truck and rail.