2014-01-31 / Front Page

Committee sets sights on April

By Sean P. Milligan
Contributing Writer

SOUTH PORTLAND – The South Portland City Council chose three members for the Tar Sands Drafting Committee, a group that will be charged to create a city ordinance to keep bituminous oil from entering the city. Michael J. Conathan and David Critchfield, both of South Portland, and Russell B. Pierce Jr. of Portland were selected from the field of 12 applicants.

The committee was decided by a ranked-voting system where the city council expressed their preferences with scores of one through 12; those with the three lowest point totals were named to the positions.

Conathan, the applicant with the best score, is the director of Ocean Policy for the Center for American Progress. In addi- tion to a master’s degree in marine affairs from the University of Rhode Island and a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Georgetown, the Cape Cod native served along side U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation’s Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard.

Critchfield, a South Portland resident for more than 15 years, is the president and chief executive officer for EMSOURCE Blue Hill, LLC. He has a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Virginia and a master’s degree in business administration from Southern Methodist University. According to his company biography page, Critchfield has served on the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C., and as an environmental designer for Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline.

Pierce, an attorney at the firm of Norman, Hanson, and Detroy, is the lone attorney on the ad hoc committee. He is a Brown alumnus and graduated magna cum laude from the University of Maine School of Law.

The committee members received 18, 21, and 25 points respectively, with a drop-off in points for Peter Stanton, the fourth-place selection, who received a score of 35.

The city council also chose Edelstein Associates of East Waterboro as the committee’s facilitator, thanks to a recommendation from City Manager Jim Gailey’s office. According to his company’s website, Jeffery L. Edelstein focuses on water qual- ity and resource management, as well as habitat protection and restoration.

Edelstein declined to comment, but did say, “After the process is underway we will establish press protocols.”

There was at least one dissenting voice in attendance at the meeting, which was held in the lecture hall in the new wing of South Portland High School.

“I just don’t agree with this whole attack on Portland Pipeline because Portland Pipeline has brought a lot of money to this town,” said Chris Owen, who said he was born and raised in South Portland and is now a Steep Falls resident. “The whole airy-fairy notion about the evil of tar sands, I just don’t agree with it. I think the Canadians have done a wonderful thing.”

The drafting committee will hold its first meeting Thursday, Feb. 6 with a proposed first reading of the ordinance occurring April 7 before being proposed to the South Portland Planning Board. In the event that the ordinance passes both of those tests the second reading before the city council will be held April 23. The moratorium blocking any construction or any drastic changes on the city’s waterfront is set to expire the first week in May.

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