2014-09-05 / Letters

City took a stand

To the editor:

During the campaign last year leading up to the vote on the Waterfront Protection Ordinance, the corporations opposing the ordinance swayed public opinion by spending more than $600,000 (about $135 for each no vote) on misleading ads and fliers. The recent letters in the Aug. 15, 22 and 29 editions of the Sentry rehash some of the oil industry’s misinformation and add indignation directed at the South Portland City Council for passing the Clear Skies Ordinance and at so-called liberal thinking, rabid rulers, Utopia theorists, uber-liberals and a far left political spell.

The science and experience confirming the dangers of transporting by pipeline and processing crude oil have been often cited in this newspaper by proponents of both the Waterfront Protection Ordinance and the Clear Skies Ordinance. Also expressed in these pages is confirmation that some (reflecting many?) who oppose the import of tar sands oil into South Portland via antiquated pipelines from Canada voted against the Waterfront Protection Ordinance because they were told repeatedly (and falsely) that its enactment would shut down not only the Portland Pipeline Co., but also the entire working waterfront.

The close vote last November did not reflect the socalled will of the people, but rather the effectiveness of an expensive campaign of misinformation and fear waged by forces tied to the oil industry. Exxon Mobil’s CEO, Rex Tillerson, expressed his company’s ethos succinctly: “My philosophy is to make money.”

History teaches us that many corporations incentivized primarily by profit behave responsibly only when they are forced to by government regulation or popular resistance.

The South Portland City Council expressed the will of the people when it passed the Clear Skies Ordinance. A careful reading of the ordinance reveals that its intent is to protect our health, environment and property values by blocking the “Refining of petroleum or other flammable liquids or the manufacture of petroleum products or other flammable liquids…” and the “Loading of crude oil in bulk onto any marine tank vessel.” The current practices of unloading oil from ships and maintaining existing facilities and equipment required for this activity are not hindered.

I applaud the actions of the council in resisting pressure from an industry that cares more for its profits than for the health and welfare of “the people.” The next task for the citizens of South Portland will be to surmount the well-financed legal challenges that will no doubt be forthcoming from the oil industry.

William Fritzmeier
South Portland

Return to top