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South Portland passes ordinance to block tar sands

South Portland passes Clear Skies Ordinance to block bulk loading of crude oil, including tar sands, in city.
tar sands

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- With a 6-1 vote, South Portland City Councilors have made history by passing an ordinance to block the loading of crude oil, including tar sands oil.

According to the Natural Resources Council of Maine, South Portland is the first community to pass such an ordinance.

A crowd of about 300 people turned out to hear the vote on the Clear Skies Ordinance Monday night.

The council held the meeting at the South Portland Community Center to accommodate the large crowd.

Environmentalists have supported the ordinance, saying tar sands oil is dangerous and harmful to air and water quality.

Opponents of the ordinance, including members of the oil industry, say the action will limit future development in South Portland's waterfront.

During public comment Monday night, most of the speakers voiced support for the ordinance.

"Thank you for the great care that you and the [Draft Ordinance Committee] have taken," said Rev. Priscilla Dreyman to the councilors, "and the courage that you have demonstrated in openly addressing this enormous issue."

A representative from the Portland Pipeline Corporation had strong words for the councilors.

"I think it's a sad day when science and facts are cast aside in the name of politics and popularity," said PPL Vice President Tom Hardison. "Make no mistake: the Portland Pipeline and petroleum terminals in South Portland will be harmed by this ordinance."

Monday's vote will most likely not be the end of the battle.

According to a statement by the Working Waterfront Coalition, the ordinance will be challenged:

"The men and women of the Working Waterfront Coalition – whose livelihoods were treated as casual collateral damage throughout this process – will evaluate all political and legal means available to us to overturn this ordinance. The fight is not over."

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