On Monday, December 3, 2018, at the John Joseph Moakley Courthouse on Boston’s waterfront, the Conservation Law Foundation of New England (CLF) honored Protect South Portland (PSP) for their work to ban the transportation of tar sands oil through the Portland Montreal pipeline through the city’s harbor and Casco Bay.
Mary-Jane Ferrier, RSCJ, received the award on behalf of PSP, a grassroots community group based in South Portland, Maine, with the mission “to promote actions and practices that serve to protect the environment, health and welfare of South Portland.”
Ferrier was featured in a short video outlining the organization’s efforts that ended in the passage of the Clear Skies ordinance.
Residents formed Protect South Portland in 2013 to stop a pipeline company from exporting Canadian tar sands oil through the city’s harbor and Casco Bay.
Opposition to the plan meant standing up against some of the biggest names in the oil industry, including ExxonMobil, Imperial Oil and the American Petroleum Institute. But Protect South Portland was undaunted, going door-to-door to build support and not giving up even when Big Oil scuttled a local referendum that would have effectively stopped the plan from moving forward.
Protect South Portland next took their fight to the city council, rallying overwhelming support for the passage of the Clear Skies Ordinance. Written with help from CLF, the ordinance prohibits the loading of crude oil onto tankers in the city. When Big Oil challenged the ordinance in court, Protect South Portland mobilized once again to raise money to support the city’s effort defending the ordinance.
Last August, a federal judge upheld the ordinance. Thanks to the work begun by Protect South Portland five years ago, the Clear Skies Ordinance is now a model for communities across the country that wish to protect their public health and quality of life from dangerous fossil fuel infrastructure.
Mary-Jane was joined that evening by Roberta Zuckermann, Rachel Burger and Taryn Hallweaver, all representatives of PSP, along with Magee Cappelli, RSCJ, and Fran de la Chapelle, RSCJ.
Also in attendance was Congressman Jospeh P Kennedy III, who received the President’s award and spoke movingly of the urgency of climate disruption that faces us.
There will be an upcoming appeal on the ordinance, which will take place in the same courthouse where the Gala took place.
Text, video and photos courtesy of CLF and Mary-Jane Ferrier, RSCJ