Groups opposing the Keystone XL oil pipeline have expressed concern about the safety of transporting Canadian crude oil. An incident in 2010 in Michigan was the costliest onshore spill and responders are still cleaning up regional waters because of lingering environmental effects.
John Stoody, director of government relations for the U.S. Association of Pipelines, told the Maine Public Broadcasting Network that heavier oil has a 25-year record of safety behind it.
"In terms of the government and safety statistics the record just isn't there to support a concern over diluted bitumen and oil sands," he said.
Residents and environmentalists in Maine, Vermont and elsewhere in the region expressed concerns over a potential shift by Portland-Montreal pipeline group to heavier Canadian crude.
"If there was a spill the tar sands would go to the bottom of (Casco Bay) and could have very adverse impacts," former Department of Marine Resources Commissioner George LaPointe said.
Maine Public Broadcasting reports the National Academy of Sciences is expected to publish a study on tar sands oil by the summer.