The Vermont Senate has advanced legislation that would toughen environmental review over an oil pipeline if its use sees significant changes.
Preliminary approval came Friday without any substantial debate on the bill. It follows concerns voiced by environmental groups that owners of the Portland Montreal Pipe Line are looking to reverse its current east-to-west flow and begin shipping so-called tar sands oil from western Canada through northern New England for loading onto ships in Maine.
The Senate was to take up the bill on Thursday but delayed action until Friday after a law firm representing the pipeline's owner pointed to potential legal problems with the bill.
Approval came on an overwhelming voice vote.
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