Letter: Breathing easier after South Portland tar sands ban

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I want to thank the mayor and City Council of South Portland for creating the Clear Skies Ordinance. They realized that although the Waterfront Protection Ordinance lost by a slim margin, the majority of the citizens, including many of the city councilors themselves, were against tar sands. Our councilors knew that another election would further divide the city. They realized they needed to create a new ordinance that would prohibit tar sands, while at the same time protect the working waterfront. They appointed a volunteer Draft Ordinance Committee,  of three land-use experts who spent over eight months reading thousands of pages of documents, and meeting with experts, stakeholders, businesses and the oil industry.

The DOC drafted a very narrow ordinance that prohibits the loading or export of crude oil, unrefined oil, which includes tar sands. No oil company in South Portland has ever loaded crude oil before; no one is doing it currently, nor is there any future plan to do so. Crude oil will continue to be unloaded, imported, to go up to Canada to be refined. The Clear Skies Ordinance has nothing to do with any refined products, including gasoline, diesel, home heating oil or jet fuel. It has no effect on the prices of refined products or the jobs associated with them. As I have asthma I am relieved to know that I will literally be able to continue to breathe easy now that the Clear Skies Ordinance has been made into law.

Catherine Chapman
South Portland

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