I am here today representing the members and supporters of the Natural Resources Council of Maine, especially those who reside in South Portland. NRCM was founded by Maine people exactly 55 years ago today, and is the state’s leading environmental advocacy group, representing more than 16,000 members and supporters.
I would like to commend the City Council for its thoughtful, transparent, and inclusive process in drafting the South Portland Clear Skies Ordinance. You selected a balanced and knowledgeable Draft Ordinance Committee to study this issue and gather public input from stakeholders. The ordinance before you today has been drafted through the Committee’s thorough process and achieves the objectives you requested.
NRCM has been concerned about the threat tar sands may pose to the people and environment of South Portland. We have worked alongside the citizens of South Portland in their efforts to stop the potential use of their port for loading tar sands and other crude oil into tankers. We share their concerns about the threat associated with this activity including toxic air pollution, and adverse impacts on property values, the community’s natural assets, and quality of life.
Local governments have an important role to play in protecting our environment. They also have the responsibility and the authority to protect citizens and the character of their community from harms imposed by inappropriate land use. In this case, the City of South Portland has taken a decisive step to protect local air quality for its citizens. Such action falls squarely within the principles of the South Portland Comprehensive Plan, which is based on the aspirations and wishes of local residents.
NRCM believes that the Draft Ordinance Committee has achieved the balanced and moderate approach sought by the City Council. This ordinance will protect South Portland residents from the harms of loading tankers with tar sands or other crude oil. We congratulate the Committee for its work and we urge you to adopt the “Clear Skies Ordinance” at the Council’s meeting in July, without alteration or delay.
– Lisa Pohlmann, NRCM Executive Director