SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- After months of heated debate, voters narrowly defeated a Waterfront Protection Ordinance designed to prevent the building of infrastructure needed to import tar sands oil from Canada to Casco Bay.
"We knew we had our work cut out for us, we knew it was going to take a lot of time, but we cannot thank the people of South Portland enough for saying let's protect the working waterfront, let's protect the port of Portland, and protect the major infrastructure and major energy hub for New England," said Jamie Py, President and CEO of the Maine Energy Marketers Association.
Fifty-one percent of voters rejected the proposed ordinance, which opponents claimed was too broadly written and could have had negative impacts on the oil terminals and other industrial businesses that are already operating on the waterfront.
"I'm really just happy and really elated that we didn't decimate and didn't put a death knell on to the people of South Portland by this ordinance, which would have been very detrimental to the working waterfront," stated Py.
Supporters of the ordinance say tar sands oil, which is being extracted from the ground in western Canada, is thicker than the normal crude oil which the Portland Montreal Pipeline transports from tankers to refineries and could cause catastrophic damage if there were a spill.
They also disapproved of a potential plan that would have called for the construction of two, seventy foot tall smokestacks on the waterfront that could have been built to burn off chemicals that allow the tar sands oil to flow through the pipes.
Despite the outcome, the issue will not be going away any time soon. Py says he hopes the two sides can come together and have a conversation about what the oil terminals in the city do and how they will operate moving forward.