Maine city bans oil sands exports

South Portland, Maine, approved zoning changes Monday that ban exports of Canadian oil sands from the city’s port.

The changes were meant to stop the possibility that the 73-year-old Portland-Montreal Pipe Line could be reversed and used to bring petroleum from the oil sands in Canada’s interior to South Portland’s waterfront for export, the Portland Press Herald reported.

The owner of the pipeline has not formally proposed to reverse it, but it has commissioned studies.

Nearly 300 people came to the city’s community center Monday night to support the vote. South Portland’s city council voted 6-1 in favor of the moratorium.

Tom Hardison, vice president of the company that runs the pipeline, told the Press Herald that Monday’s vote was “against jobs, energy and the waterfront,” and called it a “rush to judgment.”

Oil sands petroleum is a heavy variety of crude oil that is found in Alberta. Companies developing Alberta’s oil sands are seeking ways to export it, including the controversial Keystone XL pipeline through the middle of the United States, which has not yet received federal approval.

Environmentalists want to stop production from oil sands, which they say has higher greenhouse gas emissions than other crude. South Portland officials also said loading the oil from the pipeline to ships would pollute the air.