The most striking aspect of the Waterfront Protection Ordinance is its vision. Using clear, well-crafted language the petroleum industry’s assumed playground within the Shipyard District will have a clearly defined fence placed around it. The fence, simple and smart in its design, has no loopholes.

Within the clearly marked boundaries of the petroleum industry’s assumed playground are specific rules it must follow. These rules have no impact on current functions and day-to-day operations of the Shipyard District and those dependent on the Shipyard District; their activities will continue uninterrupted.

By establishing physical boundaries and limiting activities to what is occurring in the present, the ordinance minimizes the impact on future generations from the petroleum industry’s eventual decline; when terminals shut down, when tanks and equipment are left to rust and for the local community to clean up. The end of the petroleum industry will not occur in my lifetime, but hopefully in my children’s; no kicking the can of financial responsibility down the street.

The ordinance sends a message to other communities in Maine to draw a line in the sand if you value what Maine has to offer. Consider the ongoing mismanagement (intentional?) of Maine’s DEP led by former lobbyist Patricia Aho, missed deadlines, weakened mining regulations; consider the Governor’s targeting of clean-air standards.

Some argue that within those confines necessary upgrades will not be possible. Why must the footprint grow? Isn’t the mantra of efficient management and production “we must work smarter; we must learn and develop ways to do more with less”? Possibly the petroleum industry could take a lesson from the industries it impacts; cars are more fuel efficient because of redesign, change in weight and materials. Allowing free reign dis-incentivizes the petroleum industry from “working smarter.”

There is concern that passage of the ordinance will lead to future expensive court action, a financial battle South Portland cannot sustain against the petroleum industries outside money and legislative dark money. However, this is not South Portland’s problem, it is Maine’s problem. As is evident, South Portland or Maine cannot depend on the current leadership in Augusta or the DEP for support.

The answer to a long-term court battle resides in electing a Governor and legislature that understands the economic future of Maine is not in supporting declining industries; rather it is building on the wealth of natural resources Maine has to offer for the tourist industry. As well, as a home for knowledge innovation to attract those desiring to live in one of the most naturally beautiful parts of the country.

The big kid (Big Oil) on the playground and its cousin Tar Sands, do not like anyone challenging their perceived entitlement to play the games they choose without limitations. They will take every action to give those getting in their way a “bloody nose.” Hopefully, the citizens of South Portland will give Big Oil a good kick in the shins first.

Thomas Czyz


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