Portland Pipe Line Corporation et al. v. City Of South Portland et al.


Foley Hoag LLP advised the City of South Portland on the deal.

The City of South Portland (the City) obtained a victory before the Maine Supreme Judicial Court in a lawsuit seeking to overturn the City’s Clear Skies Zoning Ordinance. The Law Court issued a decision on Thursday October 29, 2020, finding that the local zoning ordinance, which prohibits the bulk loading of crude oil onto ships in certain districts on South Portland’s harbor, is not preempted by Maine’s Coastal Conveyance Act.

Portland Pipe Line Corporation (PPLC) sued to overturn the Clear Skies Ordinance in 2015, bringing a nine-count complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maine.

PPLC appealed the ruling to the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, which certified three questions of law to the Law Court. The questions generally asked whether the Clear Skies Ordinance was preempted by the Coastal Conveyance Act as local rule in “direct conflict” an “order” issued by the state Department of Environmental Protection. PPLC argued that the Oil Terminal Facility Renewal License it received from the Department in 2010 was “order” in “direct conflict” with the Clear Skies Ordinance.

The Law Court disagreed, ruling that the Oil Terminal Facility Renewal License is a “permission,” not an “order.”

The Court also held that the Ordinance furthers the legislative purpose of the Coastal Conveyance Act to protect Maine’s coast from oil pollution and does not conflict. The Court also observed that the Coastal Conveyance Act, consistent with Maine’s Constitution, broadly protects the “Home Rule” power of Maine’s cities and towns to pass local zoning ordinances like the Clear Skies Ordinance.

The case now returns to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit to rule on the questions of federal law appealed by PPLC.

The Foley Hoag team was led by Euripides Dalmanieras (Picture) and Jesse Alderman.

Involved fees earner: Jesse Harlan Alderman – Foley Hoag; Euripides Dalmanieras – Foley Hoag;

Law Firms: Foley Hoag;

Clients: City of South Portland;

Author: Ambrogio Visconti