2014-03-21 / Letters

Everyone can check the facts

To the editor:

John Quinn’s letter last week, purporting to clear up some details, really illustrated how it’s not just profit and greed that motivates big oil’s PR push to bury the truth about its plans to pump tar sands through our city for export to overseas markets.

No, it’s arrogance as well.

It’s arrogant to attempt to marginalize and diminish local efforts by well-meaning and honest citizens to that of “activists with a narrow, off-oil agenda.” We are Citizens, a front group backed by the American Petroleum Institute (the main trade group and lobbying arm of the oil industry fighting climate change legislation … and the group that sent a letter to the South Portland City Council, in response to the tar sands moratorium, threatening to sue South Portland), is here to educate and empower citizens – with misinformation, misleading statements and outright lies. We are not dealing with neighbors and friends when listening to Energy Citizens. If you really want the truth, simply go online and type in “tar sands” in your search engine. There is great deal of incontrovertible truth that unequivocally disproves how tars sands is “just oil.”

It’s arrogant to claim that Portland- Montreal Pipeline’s plan to reverse the flow was non-existent last year, when the pipeline itself, in a cynically crafted maneuver just before the Waterfront Protection Ordinance vote, voluntarily surrendered its final state permit (due to expire February 2014) relating to an existing plan to reverse said pipeline, construct two 70-foot VCUs (volatile combustion units) near Bug Light, and export tar sands. How can you surrender a permit for a plan that doesn’t exist in the first place?

By the way, you can see the actual permit and view renderings of the then-proposed 70-foot units at: http://votesopo.org/smokestacks.

It’s arrogant to suggest that the Waterfront Protection Ordinance failed because it would have destroyed the working waterfront. The lynchpin of this argument rested on the oft-quoted Lawton’s study, for which the Working Waterfront Coalition paid $15,000. This report focused on what the economic impact would be if South Portland’s working waterfront were simply to disappear. As Lawton himself reported afterward, “The premise was, ‘What would be the impact of a decision by the operators of the oil terminals and pipeline to undertake an orderly shutdown of their business?’” Lawton wasn’t asked if the Waterfront Protection Ordinance would shut down the waterfront, but rather what would happen if the oil industry packed up and left. Legions of lawyers, paid industry canvassers, reams of flyers and mailers, and $650,000 helped to transform this false premise into a hard-boiled truth.

Last fall, the industry came out in force to convince South Portland residents that the ordinance was too broad, and that there was no plan to bring in tar sands, and therefore no need for any ordinance. Now that there’s a moratorium in place and a committee charged by the city council to draft an ordinance that would keep tar sands from polluting our community, they’re back; this time they have the arrogance to clamor that tar sands isn’t dangerous, that it shouldn’t even be called tar sands, that it’s “just oil” – and, hey, there is still no proposed, pending or imminent plan to reverse the flow of the pipeline.

But yet they’re spending all this time, effort and money to convince us of all these so-called facts. I would ask them, “If there’s really no plan, then why go to all this trouble?”

Because there is such a plan.

As a backdrop to all this taking place locally, there’s now the imminent reversal of Enbridge’s Line 9, which will pump tar sands to Montreal, where it connects to the Portland-Montreal Pipeline. Hmmmmm, where could it possibly go from there?

South Portlanders, arm yourselves with the facts. Don’t take my word for it, and don’t take the industry’s word. Search for the truth. It’s out there … literally at your fingertips.

And when you’re doing so, follow the money.

William Duffy
South Portland

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