South Portland—Portland Pipe Line Corp. filed suit against the City of South Portland today over the City’s landmark Clear Skies Ordinance, which was passed 6-1 by the City Council at the end of July.
“We’re disappointed, to say the least,” said MJ Ferrier, spokeswoman for Protect South Portland, the several hundred-strong citizens group. “Our whole community came together to stop the threat of smokestacks at Bug Light Park and toxic air pollution. But we’re ready to come together again to continue protecting South Portland.”
The group vowed that it would work just as hard to defend the ordinance as it did to get it enacted and intends to intervene in the lawsuit.
“South Portland has spoken. The tar sands industry is trying to reverse the will of the people, and we won’t let that happen,” said Ferrier.
Joining Protect South Portland will be two other groups involved in the effort to enact the South Portland Clear Skies Ordinance, including Environment Maine and the Natural Resources Council of Maine.
In addition, the Conservation Law Foundation will work to defend the ordinance as well. “The City of South Portland engaged in a thoughtful, transparent and exhaustive process in exercising its authority to protect the health and well-being of its citizens,” said Sean Mahoney, Executive Vice-President of Conservation Law Foundation. “The Clear Skies Ordinance is a rational and appropriate response to a proposed industrial activity that had no precedent whatsoever in the city and that would have posed serious health risks to nearby residents.”
The American Petroleum Institute, the Washington, DC-based lobbying arm of the oil and gas industry, threatened a lawsuit against the city as early as last December, and hinted at this action before the ordinance was passed. However, the City Council decided not to be intimidated by the oil giant.
“For more than a year now, Portland Pipe Line Corporation has been claiming that it has no plans to bring tar sands to Maine,” said Taryn Hallweaver, Director of Environment Maine. “If this lawsuit isn’t proof enough of their intent, I don’t know what is. We’re proud to be standing with Protect South Portland and our partners to defend the Clear Skies Ordinance against this attack.”
“Portland Pipe Line has finally shown all its cards,” said Lisa Pohlmann, Executive Director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “This action shows it doesn’t care about the will of the people of South Portland or their health and well being. They are putting profits first for the company and its parent Exxon-Mobil.”
This past fall, two new councilors were elected to the South Portland City Council, both of whom ran publicly in strong support of the Clear Skies Ordinance. Michael Pock, the only councilor who voted against the ordinance last July, was voted out of office.
“It’s very frustrating that the oil industry would file this lawsuit after our city has spoken so loudly and clearly,” said Ferrier. “But we’re ready.”