Although energy companies deny that they plan to ship tar sands oil through New England, the possibility of the west-east route has triggered growing protest around the region.

Activists have staged demonstrations the possible pipeline, including one that grew violent last month in Burlington. Environmentalists say a recent regulatory decision in Canada is strong evidence that energy firms eventually plan to ship the fuel from Alberta to Maine.

Late last month, hundreds of protesters staged what they called a human oil spill in front of a Burlington hotel where New England governors and eastern Canadian premiers were meeting the next day. A few of the protesters then tried to halt a bus that was carrying dignitaries to a dinner. They were dispersed by city police who used pepper spray and sting balls in a controversial show of force.

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