Large turnout delays tar-sands vote in South Portland

Keep Me Current | July 8, 2014 | Column by Kayla J. Collins

An overwhelming number of supporters and opponents who turned out Monday at South Portland City Hall to discuss a proposal that would prevent tar-sands oil from coming into the city forced that portion of the council meeting to be rescheduled.

Kayla J. Collins Packed house Supporters and opponents of South Portland’s proposed Clear Skies Ordinance pack the council chambers Monday for a first reading on the ordinance. Due to the overcapacity, the meeting was postponed.

A preliminary vote by the city council on proposed amendments to the city’s so-called Clear Sky Ordinance was postponed until Wednesday, at a larger location to be determined, after the Current’s deadline.

More than 200 people packed into the council chambers Monday evening – about 100 more than the limit – a half-hour before the meeting was set to begin at 7 p.m., and people kept pouring in. Mayor Gerard Jalbert said because the City Hall could not accommodate such a large unexpected turnout, the council would have to postpone taking action on the proposal.

“One of my concerns is, we want to have a stable, peaceful, respectful meeting,” said Jalbert. “That’s one of the things we have been driven to do this year despite some of the acrimony that’s occurred over the last year or so. That’s one of the reasons it’s been postponed.”

While supporters of the ordinance banning tar sands wore light blue shirts, members of the Working Waterfront Coalition for the first time showed up en masse wearing bright red shirts that read “American Energy” on the front and “SoPo Jobs” on the back to publicly oppose the city’s proposed ordinance.

Members of the South Portland Draft Ordinance Committee have said their two priorities are to protect current activities on the city’s waterfront while also prohibiting the import and export of all crude oil products, including tar sands, from Canada.

Under the proposed ordinance, the city would ban the “bulk loading of crude oil onto marine tank vessels” and the “construction, installation and operation of related facilities, structures or equipment.”

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PAUSE, People of Albany United for Safe Energy
PAUSE is a grassroots group of individuals who have come together to promote safe, sustainable energy and fight for environmental justice. We engage the greater public to stop the fossil fuel industry’s assault on the people of Albany and our environment.