Federal Judge Allows South Portland Oil Pipeline Lawsuit To Move Forward

Dec 12, 2017

A legal challenge to the city of South Portland’s so-called Clear Skies Ordinance can continue now that a federal judge has refused to dismiss the suit.

The Portland Pipe Line Corp. is challenging the legality of the South Portland ordinance, which prohibits all bulk loading of crude oil at South Portland harbor.

The PPLC would like to reverse the flow of its 236-mile pipeline and send crude oil from Montreal to South Portland, something effectively prohibited by the ordinance.

Sean Mahoney of the Conservation Law Foundation says the city had argued that its ordinance wasn’t having a negative effect on PPLC because there’s no oil available in Canada to send south through the pipeline. The court notes oil market volatility as something that might contribute to the project’s success.

“The pipeline company can now go forward with its substantive challenge to the Clear Skies Ordinance and, if it is successful in that challenge, then it will be able to move forward with its plans,” he says.

In his decision, District Court Judge John Woodcock writes that the court remains convinced that, if there were no ordinance, PPLC would currently be taking active steps to reverse the flow of the pipeline.