A letter from John O’Brien (“South Portland’s Clear Skies Ordinance will prevent creation of jobs,” Nov. 28) suggested that South Portland’s recently codified Clear Skies Ordinance will stand in the way of expanded opportunities for U.S. shipwrights if Canadian tar sands are otherwise allowed to be exported from Casco Bay.

This argument draws its strength from hopes for the enforcement of the Jones Act of 1920 – one of the last remaining protectionist laws in an era of free trade deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

This argument falls flat for two reasons: First, Canadian oil producers are seeking export to the international market, where benchmark crude oil prices are higher than the U.S. benchmark prices, even during the present slump. Such export was never about U.S. jobs or U.S. crude oil supply.

Second, the Jones Act is porous in its enforcement – or at least it is not transparent. This year, several crude oil tankers of foreign build with foreign crew operating under foreign flags have unloaded cargo to Portland Pipe Line at Pier No. 2, even though AIS tracking data (which is publicly available at various online sites) show Texas or Louisiana as their last ports-of-call. Tankers unloading what appears to be domestic crude oil is a new development for South Portland.

The Customs and Border Protection agency in Portland (the enforcer of the Jones Act) is not willing to discuss this law, or potential violations of it, with the public.

However, Portland Pipe Line claimed earlier this year that at least one of these tankers was laden with foreign-sourced oil. The Jones Act apparently is not enforced under such circumstances. So much for protecting U.S. jobs.

We will have to look to other industries for our sustainable jobs of the future. I am grateful that South Portland’s inspired leadership agrees.

Eben Rose

South Portland