I have recently spent time in a couple of courtrooms: same judge, same lawyers, same case. Even though I am not a party in the case (it is my city being sued), my very life depends on it. The quality of our air is critical to me. I have chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder.

Actually, I hope this case is critical to everyone. I am sure that others have noticed that the summers are hotter and there are more days of high dew points and poor air quality. So what does that have to do with sitting in court?

I am sitting in court, as a citizen of South Portland, supporting our Clear Skies Ordinance. The City Council passed it resoundingly, years ago. But it’s not over. Even though Portland Pipe Line said it had no plans to export crude oil, which the ordinance prohibits, the company is suing South Portland. They tell us that our ordinance is unconstitutional.

What? Just because Portland Pipe Line already has a pipeline in the ground (regardless of how old it is or that a leak might threaten), apparently, they have a right to run anything through it regardless of the impact on others. We the people (not to mention all other living beings, the earth, the water and the air) do not seem to have rights against a corporation.

If a corporation closes its doors, it is seen as a kind of murder, not a natural death. So, in “self-defense,” Portland Pipe Line can take actions that could make my life more difficult, and undoubtedly shorter. Where are my constitutional rights? Where are the home rule rights of my hometown? None of this came up in the courtroom. It all seems to be about the rights of the corporation to prosper, nothing about the rights of a community to clean air and water.

Louise Tate

South Portland