For months, residents of South Portland have pressured their city to curb huge oil tanks spewing noxious smells – tanks they say hurt their health and are an eyesore.

Global Partners just responded, claiming it will:

Spend $400,000 to install odor-control equipment on its tanks.

Contribute $15,000 to an air-monitoring system that the Department of Environmental Protection deployed in South Portland.

• Set up a website where residents can log air-quality complaints.

South Portland Mayor Claude Morgan said, “Global has listened to the residents. We’ve been meeting with Global folks and we’ve been telling them, ‘Forget about the consent decree and focus on what you’ve heard.’ There’s been a sea change and they’re responding to it.”

Respectfully, I disagree with the mayor. Global “heard” South Portland, but didn’t listen. Its air-quality complaint website is tantamount to the fox guarding the henhouse.

Many here want to replace the tanks with something better. We certainly deserve lovely parks no less than Cape Elizabethans, and beautiful development no less than Portlanders. And maybe South Portland wants to sequester carbon by planting trees on the land under the tanks.

Nothing short of removing these tanks would amount to “listening.”

Still, I applaud South Portland’s mayor and City Council. Councilor April Caricchio and other officials have been stellar climate leaders.

But let’s be clear: The value of Global’s concession is smaller than the momentum of this movement. And it is far smaller than the lost tax revenue, ecological services and alternative development that these tanks are forestalling.

Michael Kebede

South Portland

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