SOUTH PORTLAND — My name is Jeff Leary. I live in South Portland and I’ve worked at Portland Pipe Line Corp. for more than 23 years. 

The company provides good jobs, hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax revenue and reliable, safe energy that drives our economy. I’m proud to be part of a team that meaningfully works to protect and support the community and the environment every day.

I have read a number of misleading claims about tar sands oil and the Portland Pipe Line Corp.

If you’re like me and have lived in South Portland your entire life, you object to the scare tactics and distortions by a vocal minority that seeks to undermine an industry and company that have been our good neighbors for more than 70 years. I appreciate your taking the time to read my response. 

First, about my company:

Portland Pipe Line has been operating in South Portland for 72 years as an indispensable part of our community, culture and working waterfront. 

The author of a recent op-ed (“Maine Voices: Unconventional crude too big a risk to be piped through Maine,” July 31) says that ExxonMobil is the “majority owner” of the company, which is false and designed to somehow lead you to believe our company is an outsider here. 

The truth is the company is a joint venture, through its parent company Montreal Pipe Line Limited, of Shell, Suncor and Imperial Oil. 

ExxonMobil is a part owner of Imperial. It’s a distinction with a real difference. Portland Pipe Line Corp. is its own entity, operated with its own policies and procedures, and run with its own management team that lives and works locally.

Second, about the pipeline:

Critics of tar sands oil cite the pipeline’s age as a way of scaring you into thinking a catastrophe is imminent. However, they lack the necessary context and truth that would put you at ease. 

Yes, the pipeline was built years ago, and since then it has safely transported more than 5 billion barrels of oil.

During that time, I can attest that the pipeline has been continuously maintained, monitored and upgraded with the latest technology to ensure maximum safety in accordance with the highest industry standards. Every minute of every day we focus on ensuring safe, efficient and environmentally responsible operation of the pipeline.

Third, about Kalamazoo and tar sands oil:

Critics cite this unfortunate incident that occurred three years ago in Michigan and make a tortured and wholly unsupportable connection to our company in order to scare you into thinking our pipeline specifically, and tar sands oil generally, are inherently dangerous. They are not.

We are all deeply committed to protecting the environment. I live in South Portland, and let me tell you: I care deeply about our environment and the future for our children and grandchildren.

I also care deeply about good jobs that the company and oil industry create locally, helping our working families — mine and yours — pay their bills, feed their kids and send them to school.

I care deeply about the hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax revenues that my company and the oil industry generate locally, supporting our police, our firefighters, our teachers, our roads and bridges. 

I care deeply about affordable energy that my company and oil industry deliver and originate locally, that lets me afford a tank of gas and keep my family warm. 

I care deeply about my company and the oil industry here in South Portland because they are good neighbors who have proven that they can be trusted.

Actions speak louder than words. To me, the actions of Portland Pipe Line Corp. and the oil industry in South Portland — good jobs, essential tax revenue, affordable energy, proven safety records, environmental friendliness, being good neighbors — speak far louder than the tired words of a vocal minority bent on scaring us into taking leave of our common sense.

As a lifelong resident of South Portland, I ask you to please join me in standing with our friends who make up our working waterfront and opposing the Waterfront Protection Ordinance in November.

Jeff Leary is a resident of South Portland and a longtime employee of Portland Pipe Line Corp. 


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