Waterfront Protection Ordinance Talking Points

Please note: there are numerous “Talking Points” in support of the Waterfront Protection Ordinance. Consider prior materials, the Protect South Portland Fact Sheets – and the additional points below:            

1. South Portland – and the Portland Pipeline Co. (PPLC) – has enormous potential to support a sustainable community.  

  • As a premier energy company in Maine, the PPLC has the economic and experiential power to support a sustainable future – both for itself, South Portland (which it indicates it supports) and the larger regional, national and global needs regarding energy.
  • There is also a federal responsibility – given ExxonMobil’s (EM) majority ownership of PPLC.  EM pays minimal taxes on 45 billion profit – with a responsibility to develop and promote clean energy
  • Given South Portland’s commitment via their Comprehensive Plan, the sign-on to the Mayor’s Climate Agreement in 07  & Sustainability resolve in 2011, adoption of Greater Portland Council of Government  Sustainability principles - and a host of sustainable efforts (solar projects across the community, increasing prevalence of hybrid and electric vehicles, etc.), South Portland is positioned for a larger sustainability commitment.

2. Current financial realities associated with PPLC:

  • PPLC pays $700,000 in yearly taxes paid to South Portland – based on an $80 million budget.
  • PPLC came into town in 1941 based on a tax break – and have been getting one ever since. The  pipeline was put in as a national defense pipeline to help Canada get in the war; it had no regulations at all, let alone environmental regulations.  Given the lack of planning and public input, do we really want to reverse and gamble on an infrastructure 70 years old.
  • Despite references to a “mixed use” waterfront, South Portland is a “petroleum use” waterfront. Of 10,000 foot of waterfront frontage in South Portland, there is 30% more petroleum-use than residential
  • If half of that petroleum-use property were residential, the tax revenue could potentially triple. Are oil tanks the best use of expensive and fragile shore land?
  • PPLC apparently has the resources to turn a profit using resources in SoPo; why do they need tar sands as a revenue source?

 3. Other PPLC considerations:

  • Larry Wilson (PPLC CEO) recently sold his home in Cape Elizabeth; having identified himself as a “neighbor”,  is he deserting us now that he reports that his profitable business is at risk?
  • PPLC jobs = 35 (spread between South Portland and Montreal); how many live in SoPo? Very few. Entire petroleum industry = 85 (compared to other industries – including restaurants; i.e., Scratch Bakery has 30 or so = a clean and sustainable industry)

4. Negative impacts of the oil industry locally:

  • The issue of leaks vs. spills  - and under-reporting given “threshold” reporting: PPLC should fully disclose ALL leaks and ground/water impacts…not just spills.
  • Negative impact on tourism
  • Kaler school – surrounded by 19 oil tanks: a “failed” school; connection – and can we afford further risk . Why only Kaler? Has the school department done a study?
  • Why black seaweed at Bug Light Park; has it been tested?

 5. Firefighter realities:

  • Their process in support of Working Waterfront Coalition (WWC) and the PPLC skirted public opinion and inappropriately influenced voters (including via fear-mongering and inaccurate information).
  • @ least 30 firefighters were absent from the vote; implying that a majority of firefighters supported the vote is faulty
  • Interesting that they never had public input about the petrochemical industry (other than identification of caution on their website) until they were lobbied by them – with ads paid for by them.
  • Approximately 10% of the South Portland firefighters live in South Portland 
  • Approximately 1% of firefighters wages are due to PPLC tax contributions
  • recent advertising, etc. – fully paid by the WWC – including their full page ads in all 3 SoPo weeklies

“South Portland is home to one of the largest oil ports on the east coast, with seven bulk liquid petroleum terminals, the largest rail yard in New England, a chemical storage facility, two semiconductor plants, and the largest retail complex north of Boston.  These commercial facilities present a challenge to our first responders. The department spends hundreds of hours annually to train for these unique hazards not found in other communities in Maine.”

6. Who is in control @ City Hall – who is representing the citizens?; consider:

  • The height restriction is 40 feet in South Portland – how did two 70-foot smokestacks get approved?
  • Why did city hall not start a process to involve the public given the outcry against Irving 12 yeas ago
  • 5 of 7 City councilors contradicted their public support of a citizen-based process – and potentially influenced (possibly illegally) the public.  Were public funds used to render a legal opinion on how to skirt public process?
  • How can the WWC have trucks selling their propaganda at Wainwright Field when just 3 years ago Renew SPHS was denied the right?  Is it okay that they are buying votes with free coffee, cocoa, donuts and giveaways – including soccer balls for kids?
  • Why was the WWC allowed to put up big signs at the transfer site - blocking city signs - giving the appearance the city allowed it?

7. Other considerations

  • Cruise ships stop in Portland – NOT South Portland…arguably the infrastructure exists. 
  • Gas prices NOT the lowest in the state; the suggestion that are gas prices will increase has no merit

 And what did really happen on June 10th – the initial date of a reported “pipeline incident” ? Despite a promise of full transparency and incident reporting, citizens received quite the runaround (from City Hall to PPLC to Unitil to the Portland Water District) over the course of multiple days when pursuing an answer to what had transpired.


Listen to your neighbors - not out of state money (money that is from profits made from us!). Remember: the Waterfront Protection Ordinance IS a citizen’s initiative!