2013-10-25 / Letters

Reader changed mind

To the editor:

I flipped a of couple times on tar sands/ Waterfront Protection Ordinance.

Start: While coming out of the bakery, the pro side asked me if I wanted to sign a petition to prevent tar sands from being pumped to South Portland, which would then require refining before being put on ships. I don’t want New Jersey-style smoke stacks on my waterfront so I signed right away.

Flip: Next I read quotes from people I respect telling me they wished they had read the ordinance before signing it because the wording was loose and could prevent current waterfront businesses from continuing current operations or updating equipment. I thought maybe we should wait before enacting such an ordinance until better wording could be crafted. After all, Portland Pipeline says they have no plans to reverse the flow of oil so we have time to do something through the city’s zoning and planning process, right?

Flop: Then the Waterfront Protection Ordinance handed me a copy of a letter from the Maine DEP extending a permit, valid through February 2014, to reverse the flow of oil in the pipeline. That week, I heard on the news that Portland Pipeline is willing to relinquish its DEP permit to show that it has no plans to bring tar sands to South Portland. Sorry, Portland Pipeline and its majority shareholder, Exxon-Mobil, you no longer pass the straight face test. If you would so glibly explain such a permit as “keeping your business options open” while also stating that you have no plans to use it, I have to believe that after you defeat the Waterfront Protection Ordinance, you would then re-apply for the same permit. I’m voting yes because I no longer believe we have time to perfect the language to every lawyer’s satisfaction. If this ordinance could actually be interpreted to prevent our existing businesses from running their existing operations, there would be a massive outcry that would mandate those portions of the ordinance be removed. I’m voting yes.

Dan Hogan
South Portland

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