| SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine, July 22
SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine, July 22 City councilors
in South Portland, Maine, voted late Monday night to ban the
loading of crude oil onto tankers along its waterfront, throwing
up yet another roadblock to the export of Canadian oil sands
crude and setting up a showdown with industry which called the
The city of 25,000, known for its scenic lighthouses and
sweeping views of the island-speckled waters of Casco Bay, is
also the east coast's second largest oil port, located at the
southern terminus of the Portland-Montreal Pipeline, which
currently flows north to Canada.
The so-called "Clear Skies Ordinance" would prevent the
Portland Pipe Line company, principally owned by top Canadian
oil refiners Suncor Energy Inc, Imperial Oil Ltd
, and Royal Dutch Shell PLC, from reversing
flow for export from the Portland Harbor.
The ordinance comes against the backdrop of strong
environmental opposition to oil sands projects in the United
States over fears about the potential impact of spills, and
implications for climate change. The White House has for years
delayed its decision on whether to allow TransCanada Corp
to build the Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta into
Hundreds of supporters in light blue t-shirts, many from
neighboring towns that have already passed symbolic votes to ban
the transport of "tar sands" through their towns, packed a South
Portland Community Center to cheer the vote late Monday.
"This is not just a South Portland issue. This is not just a
great state of Maine issue. This is an international issue,"
said Peg Dilley, of nearby Casco, Maine, which lies along the
Pipeline company Vice President Tom Hardison told councilors
that his company had no plans to reverse the pipeline's flow,
but added environmental concerns were based on emotion, not
fact. The company and industry lobby group the American
Petroleum Institute have promised to fight the ordinance.
"I think it's a sad day when science and facts are lost in
favor of politics and popularity," Hardison said.
The Canadian government in March approved the reversal of
pipeline company Enbridge Inc's "line 9" pipe across
central Canada, potentially putting a new supply of Albertan
crude at Montreal's doorstep, and raising the chances oil could
flow south to Maine.
A reversal of Enbridge's line 9, however, may not be enough
to trigger a Portland-Montreal reversal, because the project's
300,000 barrel per day capacity would meet only part of the
demand from eastern Canadian refineries.
Maritime attorney Len Langer said South Portland's ordinance
could set a precedent, if it stands.
"The real question here is, can a municipality regulate
interstate and foreign commerce?" he said. "If the answer is
yes, then... we'll see a lot more municipalities more
aggressively regulating commerce within their borders."
South Portland Mayor Jerry Jalbert told Reuters the
ordinance was an exercise in local regulation.
"From the perspective of a locally elected official, it's a
simple issue. People fear this product could be damaging to the
community, and they have asked us to act."
(Reporting by Dave Sherwood; Editing by Richard Valdmanis and