David Beats Goliath: Clinic Prevails Over Pipeline Company

The Environmental & Natural Resources Law Clinic (ENRLC) worked with Protect South Portland and others to design a local ordinance to protect their community and its residents from fossil fuel infrastructure. After a three-year court battle, the Maine Federal District Court upheld the constitutionality of the coastal city’s “Clear Skies Ordinance” that prohibits the bulk loading of crude oil onto tankers within the city limits, a decision that could have broad implications for local authorities that seek to protect citizens from pipeline companies. The ordinance was adopted in 2014, effectively blocking the Portland Pipe Line Corporation from reversing the flow of its 236-mile Portland-Montreal Pipe Line.

“This decision is an important one. It gives communities a powerful tool to fight big energy projects that have serious local consequences.”
Ken Rumelt, Professor of Law and Senior Attorney, ENRLC.

Along with Protect South Portland, the ENRLC worked with other local environmental groups and the Maine chapter of the Conservation Law Foundation to develop the legal strategy, draft the ordinance, advise client groups during the local political debate, and to provide strategic legal assistance during the litigation. Many Vermont Law School students have worked on this project over the past five years, conducting legal research and advising clients in South Portland.

You can learn more about the case here.