The city of South Portland, Maine banned the export of oilsands crude from local port facilities this week.
Portland, the suburban community of 25,000 is the Atlantic terminal of the Portland Montreal Pipe Line, which currently carries millions of barrels of oil from the coast to refineries in Montreal. The city council is currently seeking to draft a law that would ban Portland Pipe Line Corp. from using Portland facilities to move western crude to the eastern seaboard.
“We applaud the City Council for their strong leadership in standing up to the oil industry,” said Roberta Zuckerman of Protect South Portland, a citizens group, told the Financial Post. “But now the City Council must turn the temporary ban on shipping tar sands out of our city into permanent legal protections.”
The ban expires on May 6. By then the community hopes to have new regulations in place that permanently ban the transport of diluted bitumen along the pipeline from Montreal.
When South Portland’s city council began workshops on the ban, the American Petroleum Institute sent a fiery five-page letter claiming that it would violate state and federal law, as well as the US constitution.
South Portland isn’t the only city council willing to stand up to oil companies that put profits before environmental stewardship.
In Vancouver, British Columbia earlier this month, Mayor Gregor Robertson tabled a motion for city council to intervene in coming National Energy Board meetings about the proposed expansion of the Kinder Morgan Transmountain Pipeline.
The mayor decided to speak out after a federal report found that Canada’s spill response system was not adequate to the current level of tanker traffic. According to the Kinder Morgan proposal, tanker traffic would soar from the current rate of five tankers per month to 34.
“Today we received further evidence from staff that the threat of a major oil spill in or near Vancouver’s waters poses unacceptable risks to our local economy and environment,” he said.
“The City of Vancouver’s intervention in the National Energy Board’s hearings will outline Vancouver’s significant concerns about a seven-fold increase in oil tanker traffic, and help ensure that our harbour, our local economy, and Vancouver treasures like Stanley Park are safe from the untold risks of a catastrophic oil spill.”
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