Hundreds of Local Businesses Call for Keeping Tar Sands Out of So. Portland

Media Releases

Environment Maine

South Portland—Protect South Portland this morning released a list of 216 South Portland businesses opposed to exporting tar sands out of Casco Bay. The businesses expressed deepseated concerns about the impacts tar sands could have on South Portland’s drinking water, air quality, coastal resources, economy, quality of life and property values.

“I’m proud to join with so many South Portland businesses and community members to protect our city from dirty tar sands,” said Barry Zuckerman, with Protect South Portland. “Business owners know that our city’s future depends on a healthy community, not dirty tar sands.” 

The 216 businesses include some of the city’s most popular eating establishments, like Scratch, DiPietros, 158, and JP Thornton’s; developers like Leddy Houser Associates; realtors; hotels; doctors; and others.

“South Portland’s future is a clean, healthy community with a diverse economy,” said Tom Howard, owner of JP Thornton’s Bar & Grille. “There is no place for tar sands in our city.” 

The businesses signed a statement outlining their major concerns with South Portland becoming the East Coast shipping capital for tar sands. The statement says (in part): As a local business owner, I am very concerned about Big Oil’s plan to transport tar sands oil through South Portland and out of Casco Bay…. The tons of toxic fumes produced by loading tanker ships will be burned off in South Portland. Oil company profits will come at the expense of the people of South Portland. I love our community and bay and want to keep them clean, healthy, thriving, and beautiful for our children and for future generations.

“I’ve been a real estate agent in South Portland for many years,” said Deb Huston, real estate broker with Keller Williams Real Estate. “Property values would plummet if two 70‐foot smokestacks were built on the pier next to Bug Light and tar sands came through our community.”

“My job is taking care of children. I worry about their health and safety every day,” said Martha Baldwin, owner of Little Tree Preschool. “I fully support keeping tar sands out of our city.” 

“When I see kids come to my ice cream shop during the summer, it is a reminder how important clean air and the outdoors are to our community,” said Paul Leddy owner of Willard Scoops and co‐owner of Leddy Houser Associates. “And those tar sands smokestacks are not just threatening our kids’ health, but my businesses too. I worry about my contracting business if this tar sands project is built in our city.”

The South Portland businesses join a vocal and growing local movement to keep tar sands out of South Portland. Portland Pipeline Corp. CEO Larry Wilson told the Vermont Legislature earlier this year that his company is “aggressively looking at every opportunity” to pump oil from Montreal to South Portland via its 63‐year‐old pipeline, and it could receive tar sands from the newly announced “Energy East” project.

In 2009, South Portland approved a project for a pump station, two 70‐foot smokestacks on the pier next to Bug Light, and other infrastructure required to export tar sands out of South Portland. The pipeline company’s South Portland permit expired a year ago, but the City said that it would apply the same standards in reviewing a new permit application. 

The proposed smokestacks, the tallest in South Portland, would be built between Bug Light and Spring Point Ledge Lighthouses. The smokestacks would be a new source of local air pollution, and they would damage the beauty of the South Portland coastline, since they would be highly visible from Bug Light, Willard Beach, Southern Maine Community College, and elsewhere.

“I fully support the Waterfront Protection Ordinance, and urge my neighbors to vote for it this November,” said Deb Huston, real estate broker with Keller‐Williams Real Estate. “It is the best way to protect the health, economy and way of life here in South Portland and it is best for our businesses too.”

Protect South Portland has qualified a citizen’s initiative, the Waterfront Protection Ordinance, for this November’s ballot to block the oil infrastructure required to export tar sands out of South Portland. A total of 160 volunteers attended the campaign’s kickoff event last week and dozens of volunteers knocked on neighbors’ doors to educate them about the initiative this past weekend alone.

South Portland voters will have the opportunity to vote for the Waterfront Protection Ordinance at the ballot box on Tuesday, November 5.