The South Portland Conservation Commission has issued a letter asking city officials to develop a formal plan to promote a transition to sustainable energy sources and update city ordinances to discourage further expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure.

As described by the commission, the plan would apply to all municipal, business and residential development within the city.

The letter comes as the City Council and city planners review a controversial proposal from NGL Supply Terminal Co. to build a 10-acre liquefied petroleum gas depot at Rigby Yard. The city also is in federal court defending its so-called Clear Skies ordinance, passed by the council in 2014, which effectively blocked the Portland Pipe Line Corp. from reversing the flow of its pipeline to bring Canadian tar sands oil into the city.

“The commission questions the enduring investment of South Portland’s limited resources into matters pertaining to the perpetuation of fossil fuel infrastructure,” the commission wrote. “It is time to move to a more comprehensive and ambitious public policy that promotes an accelerated process of conversion (to sustainable energy sources) within a framework of purposeful goals and well-reasoned incentives.”

The letter, emailed Wednesday to Mayor Linda Cohen and the other councilors, was born out of several commission discussions, drafted by a few members and approved by a 10-1 vote, with member Suzette Bois in opposition.

Commission Chairman David Critchfield said he believes it’s important for citizens’ groups to weigh in on issues of public concern.


“This is something we need to pay attention to for the long run,” Critchfield said.

Bois couldn’t be reached for comment Thursday.

Commission members are appointed by the council to act as a research, advisory and advocacy group on environmental issues relating to the city. Its duties include reviewing and issuing recommendations on development projects before the Planning Board; keeping an index of open spaces in the city; and recommending programs to better protect or develop those areas.

Some city residents have expressed concern about the potential for a catastrophic explosion if NGL built a propane depot at the 245-acre rail yard, which sprawls between the Cash Corner and Thornton Heights neighborhoods off Route 1. The council is scheduled to discuss the NGL proposal and a possible moratorium on fuel depots during a workshop on Monday.

Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: KelleyBouchard

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