SoPo Residents Far Exceed Signature Requirement for Tar Sands Initiative

Nearly 1,500 people marked the streets of Portland on January 26, speaking out against the Portland-Montreal Pipeline.

By Carol McCracken  (Post # 1,444)

Concerned Citizens of South Portland delivered 3,779 signatures to the City Clerk  this morning to qualify their Waterfront Protection Initiative for the November ballot.  This number of signatures is four-times the number of signatures required. The signatures were collected in eleven days.

Earlier this month, the Concerned Citizens announced the beginning of a new initiative that would keep the city safe from tar sands oil.  Called the Waterfront Proection Ordinance, it would change the city’s zoning ordinance to block ExxonMobil, the majority owner of the Portland-Montreal pipeline, from building two 70-foot smokestacks next to Bug Light and other oil infrastructure needed to export tar sands out of Casco Bay. ExxonMobil,  the majority owner of the Portland-Montreal pipeline has proposed to build these smokestacks on the pier in order to export tar sands out of the country.  The collection of so many signatures this morning outside City Hall insures that the initiative will be on the November ballot.

At the morning news conference, South Portland Mayor Tom Blake, as a private citizen and his wife Edrie signed the petition, adding the two final signatures.  “Many residents have worked hard to chart a plan for a suitable, prosperous future for South Portland,” said Mayor Blake.  “Tar sands and the related industrial development planned here are not consistent with these efforts.  Smokestacks and toxic air pollution should not be part of our plan for a healthy future.  These are some of the reasons we are supporting the Waterfront Protection Ordinance.”

On Tuesday, June 12, Harrison residents voted 156-59 to pass a municipal resolution stating opposition o sending tar sands oil thrugh ExxonMobil’s Portland-Montreal Pipelne, making it the sixth Maine town to publically and officially oppose the proposal.  The 62-year-old pipeline, which stretches 236 miles from Montreal to South Portland, is being considered for the transport of tar sands, a form of toxic, thick oil that is associated with higher incidence of pipeline spills and can be nearly impossible to clean-up.  The pipeline stretches 5 miles through Harrison and crosses the Crooked River near the Plains Road.  The pipeline also passes through critical wetland habitat along the Crooked River watershed, according to a press release issued on June 12th.

Harrison residents collected over 250 signatures from registered Harrison voters at the polls last November and worked with the town selectment to put the resolution on Tuesday’s ballot.

Please see post # 1,434, dated 6/6/13 for more background information on the subject.