In the news
SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine -
The South Portland City Council passed an ordinance Wednesday night that will prohibit loading tar sands crude oil in bulk onto marine tank vessels in the city.
The council passed the ordinance 6-1.
City officials said hundreds showed up to Monday's scheduled meeting and the council's chamber only seats 96.
Mayor Jerry Jalbert said the turnout was a hazard, so the City Council postponed the vote.
The vote is to be followed by planning board review July 15 and final vote July 21.
Mary Jane Ferrier lives down the street from a cluster of oil tanks.
She wants the skies over her home to stay blue and she's joining the effort to support the new clear skies ordinance, which would ban all bulk exporting of crude oil.
"When an industry is here, they also have to respect the needs and desires of the people who live here and if they want to do is going to significantly change the air, the water all of those things that people depend on then I think citizens have a right to say no we don't want that," said Ferrier.
The ordinance said if crude oil, like tar sands was allowed to become a new industry in the port, it could mean two large smokestacks would be built -- altering the city's skyline and polluting the air.
"I don't think that's what we really want in south Portland," said Ferrier.
Jamie Py, with the Working Waterfront Coalition, said South Portland could be on the edge of the American oil revolution. And this ordinance to ban all crude is overboard.
"It's really a knee-jerk reaction to the people who don't like tar sands. They were told to be scared of tar sands and a lot of people have concerns about it," Py said.
Last November, South Portland voters rejected an ordinance to ban oil companies from building or changing their infrastructure to import tar sands oil.
Py said this new ordinance is just rephrasing the same issue without really answering the tough questions.
"They just want the city not to have a problem and that's all fair, but let's get the true facts out on the table and make a reasonable decision and I don't think that's happened yet," Py said.