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

City is obliged to interpret referendum as it’s written

This is in response to “Another View: Waterfront editorial parroted industry argument,” Oct. 20.

State Reps. Scott Hamann, Terry Morrison and Bryan Kaenrath stated, “Who would enforce such a strict interpretation?” and “No one would insist that the city interpret it in that way.” They also say the ordinance would ensure “that businesses along our waterfront can continue doing business as usual.”

City personnel responsible for enforcing city ordinances are required to interpret and enforce to the best of their ability the words as written. They do not have the authority or latitude to consider what they think people intended or might want.

Section 27-922.5 of the proposed ordinance clearly prohibits new or increased capacity of existing facilities, which would not allow existing facilities to operate as they always have.

When you vote, please realize that an ordinance approved by referendum can be revised only by another referendum. Therefore, if this referendum is passed and does not work out, the ordinance and its effects will be on the books until another time-consuming referendum can be written and approved by the people.

We need to vote against this referendum and direct our City Council to issue a clear and concise ordinance to prevent the pumping of tar sands oil through South Portland.

An ordinance issued by the council provides for staff review and several layers of public input, and it can always be readily revised by the council if necessary.

Let us not panic and create a solution that is worse than the problem. Let us defeat this poorly written, conflicting and overly broad ordinance and implement an ordinance that is best for all of us.

If you do not understand the ordinance, please vote against it. By not voting at all, you would strengthen the chances of passage and prevent us from doing it right.

Stanley Cox

South Portland

Proposal would address threat to clean air, water

As longtime residents of South Portland, we have observed many instances in which both city officials and residents have debated the issues facing us in the vote for or against the Waterfront Protection Ordinance.

We are presently under siege from several sources of pollution: exhaust from car engines, aircraft and maritime traffic, to name a few. Now, it seems some of us are prepared to invite the threat of tar sands effluent to add to the mix.

The soot that our neighbors and I find in our birdbaths may seem insignificant to some, but to us, it represents the assault that the industrial burning of fossil fuels already inflicts upon our environment.

Please join with us and all those who value the blessings of clean air and water in voting for the Waterfront Protection Act on Nov. 5.

Winifred Slocum

Martha Williams

South Portland

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