An oil tanker owned by Irving Oil is pushed towards a dock by tugboats Friday, April 23, 2021, in South Portland, Maine. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

The administration of President Joe Biden has submitted a legal filing that supports South Portland’s local authority to prohibit the loading of crude oil onto tankers in its harbor.

The city created a Clear Skies Ordinance in 2014 to block oil companies from building a tar sands export terminal.

The Portland Pipe Line Corporation has challenged the ordinance, saying it’s preempted by federal law. But in a filing submitted to the US First Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday, the federal government disagreed with that argument.

The National Wildlife Federation, which has joined efforts to shut down a pipeline in Michigan, is praising the Biden Administration’s position in South Portland’s case. A staff attorney says it affirms that “states have the right to protect public health and natural resources by determining where an oil pipeline can be located.”