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Environment and Outdoors

Biden Administration Backs South Portland's Authority To Block Oil Pipeline

Biden Climate Summit
Robert F. Bukaty
An oil tanker owned by Irving Oil arrives in Portland Harbor to unload fuel, Thursday, April 22, 2021, in South Portland, Maine. President Joe Biden committed the United States to cutting emissions by up to 52% by 2030 at a virtual Earth Day summit.

The administration of President Joe Biden has submitted a legal filing that supports South Portland's local authority to prohibit the loading of crude oil onto tankers in its harbor.

The city created a Clear Skies Ordinance in 2014 to block oil companies from building a tar sands export terminal.

The Portland Pipe Line Corporation has challenged the ordinance, saying it's preempted by federal law. But in a filing submitted to the US First Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday, the federal government disagreed with that argument.

The National Wildlife Federation, which has joined efforts to shut down a pipeline in Michigan, is praising the Biden Administration's position in South Portland's case. A staff attorney says it affirms that "states have the right to protect public health and natural resources by determining where an oil pipeline can be located."