The battle over “tar sands” oil and its possible transmission into South Portland involved several back-and-forth announcements Thursday.
First, the group Protect South Portland, which has launched a a citizen-driven Nov. 5 ballot measure that would prevent a tar sands export installation in South Portland, held a press conference in which local physicians, coaches, seniors and the American Lung Association spoke out “to express their growing concerns about the health impacts of a tar sands project on the South Portland waterfront. The group is particularly troubled by the oil industry’s continued denials that air and water quality will be adversely affected,” the group reported.
Opponents of the ballot measure, who have warned recently that the ordinance could economically cripple the waterfront in South Portland, issued documents seemingly aimed at bolstering the case that no tar sands project is imminent.
The advisory, “Portland Pipe Line Corporation formally surrenders sole remaining 2009 project permit — reiterates no present, pending or proposed project,” included a statement from Portland Pipe Line Corporation President and CEO Larry Wilson.
“We have been committed to providing service to our community for over 70 years with truth and integrity, a pledge that will never waver,” he said. “With that in mind, and to further assure the community on this issue, we have formally filed with DEP a ‘Surrender of Air Emission License #A-197-77-1-A’. Requests to surrender permits are rare according to DEP, and we have asked that this request be processed promptly.”
The statement elicited a swift response from Protect South Portland.
Cathy Chapman, spokesperson, said, “It is way too late for Larry Wilson and Portland Pipe Line to try to win public trust on tar sands. A year ago, Wilson denied they had a tar sands project. Then in 2012, the company applied to renew its tar sands air permit, and this spring Wilson told 400 people in South Portland, the Vt. legislature and many others that the company would ‘love’ to bring tar sands to Maine. Today he is back to denying it.”