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South Portland "Clear Skies" Ordinance Will Stand after Company Dismisses Court Appeal

Biden Climate Summit
Robert F. Bukaty
A man walks on an athletic track in the shadow of massive oil tanks owned by the Portland Pipe Line Corp., 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 city of South Portland's "Clear Skies" ordinance, which bans the loading of oil onto tankers in parts of the city's harbor, will stand after a pipeline company dropped its federal lawsuit on Thursday.

The ordinance was passed by the South Portland city council seven years ago, following a plan by the Portland Pipe Line Corporation to reverse the flow of oil in a pipeline and send it from Canada to South Portland. The company sued to block the ordinance in 2014. The case wound its way through several courts, with the Biden administration filing a brief in support of the ordinance last month. The company ultimately agreed to drop its appeal on Thursday.

South Portland Mayor Misha Pride says the court victory strengthens the city's ability to protect the environment.

"We can continue making the strides towards improving our air quality, towards a cleaner environment for South Portland and neighboring communities, without worrying about a company being able to come in and stop us, using federal law," Pride says.

In a statement, Portland Pipe Line President Chris Gillies says the company is "voluntarily dismissing its appeal as we do not currently have any plans to reverse the flow of crude oil in the Portland-Montreal Pipe Line system."