October 24, 2013

Letters to the editor: Editorial feeds anti-tar sands fears

More readers weigh in on the Waterfront Protection Ordinance on the South Portland ballot.

Newspapers share with us the printed word; we don’t read them for garbage!

click image to enlarge

“There can be no sand” in the oil pumped through this Portland Pipe Line network, as that would destroy the pumps, a reader says.

2013 File Photo/John Ewing

A recent editorial is headed by a photo captioned “… prevent the importation of tar sands.” The piece is titled “Our View: Waterfront vote affects more than tar sands” (Oct. 17). Its second section is subtitled “MORE THAN TAR SANDS.”


No one is proposing importing tar sands. Tar sands is simply a source from which oil may be obtained. Oil is a refined, filtered liquid that finds use in lubricating fine machinery, like car engines; heating homes by spraying it through ultra-small mist jets into a furnace; even used as a raw material in the synthesis of plastic materials.

In the case of South Portland, the discussion seems to hinge on the flow of oil, backward, from Canada to the sea, through the Portland-Montreal Pipe Line network. This oil is pumped – pumped – through the pipes by hugely expensive, meticulously maintained electric pumps. There can be no sand in this oil. Sand would destroy the pumps.

The chemical makeup of oil obtained from tar sands may be different from that of conventionally obtained oil – some stories assert “corrosive” characteristics – but certainly there is no economic gain to be derived from destroying the pipeline and shipping tons of sand from Canada to the U.S.

If the Press Herald will offer us your view, please expunge the dramatic rhetoric used these past few weeks by the Republican Party and our dear governor. You must do better!

Pete Mickelson, P.E.


Ordinance will help shield investment in real estate

The South Portland shipyards are gone; the bicycle factory, the piggery and the cannery have closed, and the fishing fleet has long since departed Simonton Cove.

South Portland just ain’t what she used to be. Times change, people and businesses adapt. In our case, we’re cleaner, greener and more prosperous now than we ever were as an industrial city.

We don’t owe our current fortune to a pipeline, a mall or a semiconductor plant, and much as we appreciate those businesses, we shouldn’t get too attached. Businesses come and go with the fickle winds of global economics.

The economic engine we should fight to protect is our real estate. For most of us, our homes are our greatest investment. As we maintain and improve them, we add value for ourselves and our community.

In my neighborhood, a dozen or more houses are under construction. Each projects means good wages flowing to the skilled carpenters, painters and landscapers on the job. These are local jobs, and the money gets spent multiple times in the local economy.

People want to live in South Portland because it’s beautiful, safe and affordable. They come for beaches, bike paths, new schools, the short hop to Portland and, admit it, they come for Scratch Bakery.

Seriously, the real estate ads say “walk to Willard Beach and Scratch Bakery.” I haven’t seen one yet that says “walk to oil pipeline” or “unobstructed views of smokestacks.” That stuff only sells houses cheap as people flee.

If you live here and love what South Portland has become, if you have invested your hard-earned money in a piece of this beautiful city, I hope you will join me in protecting its future by voting “yes” for the Waterfront Protection Ordinance.

Peter Stanton

South Portland

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