Your Dec. 18 editorial (“Our View: Moratorium allows South Portland time to craft tar sands policy”) accurately describes last month’s election in South Portland as a vote for a specific ordinance, rather than a vote on tar sands. We agree that “city councilors have done the right thing” by passing a six-month moratorium to keep tar sands oil from being shipped from Casco Bay, and “by creating a framework in which this discussion can proceed in a focused and effective manner.”

However, we disagree that the oil industry should have a seat at the three-person committee that is charged with drafting a new ordinance to prevent tar sands infrastructure in South Portland. Should this happen, the task force will be neither focused nor effective.

Though the Waterfront Protection Ordinance was narrowly defeated at the polls, public opinion in South Portland is firmly against tar sands. The oil industry knows this: They ran away from tar sands as fast as they could this fall, deliberately focusing all their attention on the proposed ordinance. We know this, after having spoken with thousands of voters. And the City Council knows this, or it wouldn’t be taking these steps. Mayor Jerry Jalbert explained, “People’s feelings are clear … they don’t want to be known as the tar sands capital of the United States.”

Now that the oil industry has shown its hand on tar sands (“Oil industry threatens lawsuit over S. Portland tar sands moratorium,” Dec. 12), placing the industry on the committee will undermine public confidence in the process and most certainly slow progress towards the stated goal.

The industry should be allowed ample opportunity to provide input and weigh in through the public participation process. But the South Portland City Council is right to leave the task at hand to unbiased land-use attorneys.

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