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July 22, 2014

South Portland enacts crude oil ban

Oil industry officials said they will take the city of South Portland to court after it enacted a ban on the loading of crude oil into marine vessels or related developments Monday night.

The Bangor Daily News reported that the South Portland City Council voted 6-1 in its final vote on the crude oil ban, which effectively blocks the export of so-called tar sand oil from the city waterfront.

The measure will ban the loading of crude oil onto marine vessels and development of any facilities related to that purpose — a measure that was previously sought in a failed referendum last year, calling for wider restrictions on waterfront development.

Portland Pipe Line Corp. Vice President Tom Hardison said the ban will hurt the company's ability to adapt to the growing demand for tar sands oil. An attorney for the company said the city's new ordinance is "illegal" and "would clearly be preempted by federal and state law," though he did not specify the next steps the company will take to challenge South Portland in court.

The committee that drafted the ordinance has said that loading crude oil onto marine vessels could increase air pollution, and that vapor combustion facilities used to mitigate the pollution would negatively impact the city's waterfront aesthetics. The ordinance has been supported by environmental groups, including the Natural Resources Council of Maine.

Read more

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