In this file photo, signs announce a past community meeting called by an activist group in South Portland. Credit: Courtesy Sabrina Shankman via InsideClimate News

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When LD 163 passed in the Maine Legislature in June 2021, the people of South Portland and other communities surrounding petroleum tank farms breathed a sigh of relief. The bill requires twice a year actual testing and continuous fenceline monitoring of the toxic chemicals in the emissions so we would know if the air is safe for us to breathe.

It was alarming to learn from news articles that two of the tank farm companies were found to be in significant violation of their permits.

But it’s not over. LD 163 is now going through the rulemaking process with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) submitting draft rules to the Board of Environmental Protection (BEP), which then goes to the Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) Committee before being voted on by the Legislature. There are many important issues being addressed in the Legislature this session and there’s a concern that the rulemaking on LD 163 will be held over until the next legislative session, which will not be completed until June 2023.

As things stand now, the testing and fenceline monitoring will not even begin until nine to 18 months after the rulemaking process is completed. We appeal to the DEP, BEP and ENR committee and Legislature to find a way for the rulemaking on LD 163 to be completed in the current legislative session. It is crucial to ensure that the air is safe for all of us to breathe.

Roberta Zuckerman

South Portland