November 2, 2013

Letters to the editor: South Portland council’s delayed response on tar sands puzzling

Nearly a year after citizens first voiced their concerns, elected officials make ‘a last-ditch effort’ to halt the Waterfront Protection Ordinance.

For nearly a year, citizens across South Portland have been working to keep tar sands smokestacks, tanks, spills and pollution out of the city.

Last March, 400 residents packed the room, voicing disbelief and concern that the Portland Pipe Line Corp. could export tar sands out of Casco Bay. At that same hearing, CEO Larry Wilson said he would “love” to bring tar sands into the city.

This June, nearly 4,000 residents petitioned the city of South Portland to block a tar sands export terminal in the city.

This fall, hundreds of citizens have come together to pass the Waterfront Protection Ordinance, standing up to the oil industry in face of an onslaught of misinformation spread with record-breaking sums of money.

But now, just one week before the election and after refusing to do anything on the issue, the South Portland City Council is making a last-ditch effort to thwart the citizen-initiated ordinance.

Why didn’t the council do this three, six or nine months ago, when it was clear that city residents were overwhelmingly opposed to tar sands? A moratorium is a stop-gap measure, and the long-term solution is the Waterfront Protection Ordinance.

It is naive to expect that the American Petroleum Institute, ExxonMobil and the other oil industry players behind the $600,000 campaign to defeat the citizens initiative will sit back and let the council pass anything that could block a tar sands project.

The oil industry will fight any ordinance that has teeth, just as they have fought to defeat the Waterfront Protection Ordinance.

The Waterfront Protection Ordinance is a strong zoning rule that will keep tar sands out of South Portland and all of Maine. Please stand with us to vote for the ordinance Nov. 5.

Emily Figdor

director, Environment Maine

Portland 

Portland stakeholders group opposes waterfront measure

Recently, the Portland Waterfront Alliance conducted a poll of its members regarding the South Portland Waterfront Protection Ordinance.

The Portland Waterfront Alliance was formed in 1988 as a response to the changes taking place on the waterfront at that time.

The alliance is a membership organization interested in protecting and promoting a working waterfront in the Port of Portland and South Portland. Members include representatives from federal, state and local governments, transportation, waterfront businesses, pier owners, neighborhood groups and anyone else interested in preserving the working waterfront.

There are about 30 active members in the alliance. The poll was conducted by email through the Greater Portland Council of Governments, so that all members had a chance to vote. There were 22 responses: 21 opposed and one abstention.

I have been employed on the waterfront for 40 years in a variety of capacities including transportation, waterfront business, commercial fishing and, yes, even the petroleum industry. I am honored to be a part of this dedicated group who meet every month to aid and promote the working waterfront. I highly respect the opinions of these members who have spent so much of their time and energy for the success of the port.

In my opinion, the WPO does not protect the working waterfront. It is a poor piece of legislation with a narrow agenda and widespread consequences pushed by outside interests who have no stake in the port. It has the potential to impact the economy and employment on the waterfront far beyond the petroleum industry.

I urge the citizens of South Portland to reject the WPO so that one of the finest deep-water ports on the East Coast can remain a vibrant and viable economic entity.

Capt. Laurence E. Legere

chairman, Portland Waterfront Alliance

Cape Elizabeth 

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