Albany – More than 3,500 New Yorkers submitted a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo requesting that his administration reject two fossil fuel infrastructure proposals that could turn Albany into “Oilbany,” making the capital city a global focal point of transshipped crude oil.
These projects – the Pilgrim Pipelines and Global Companies LLC’s desired expansion of the oil heating facility at the Port of Albany – would jeopardize small communities and waterways, harm our climate, and further compromise air quality, putting residents of communities like the South End of Albany in harm’s way.
The letter reads, in part, “An oil heating facility at the Port of Albany and the Pilgrim Pipelines both serve one purpose: moving crude oil through our communities and off to the global market as quickly as possible. The weight of these two proposals cannot be ignored, as the pipelines and the port are part of a grand scheme we can easily call “Oilbany.” Simply put, approval would stake the state capital's role as a global oil shipping hub for years to come.”
The continued build-out of New York’s fossil fuel infrastructure would also render it nearly impossible for Governor Cuomo to achieve his climate and clean energy goals, which include generating half of New York’s electricity from clean, renewable sources by 2030, and ending the use of fossil fuels entirely in less than 33 years.
Conor Bambrick, air & energy director at Environmental Advocates of New York said, “Governor Cuomo has the opportunity to establish New York as a clean energy hub – something taking on even greater importance due to reckless decisions we are witnessing from the Trump Administration. Allowing Big Oil to build-out more fossil fuel infrastructure would be a step backwards, lining up with the Trump doctrine. These projects are dangerous to their core. They hurt people and communities. We strongly encourage Governor Cuomo to build upon his promise of a New York that is fossil fuel-free by rejecting all plans to turn Albany into Oilbany.”
Dr. Dorcey Applyrs, Albany Common Councilmember for the First Ward said, “Residents in Albany's South End have been fighting for their right to breathe clean air. Pollution from oil transport, vehicle traffic and other sources continue to have a negative impact on the community's health. For example, asthma rates are the highest among children and adults that call the South End home, compared to other parts of the city and state. The long-term health impacts have not been studied and are unknown. In a unified voice, we say NO to additional oil related projects that compound the environmental injustices experienced by our community.”
Dominick Calsolaro, former Albany Common Councilmember, and member of People of Albany United for Safe Energy (PAUSE) said, “The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will soon be conducting a year-long air quality study in Albany's South End, including measuring benzene levels in the vicinity of both Global's facility and the Port. A resident-initiated health survey showed that almost half of the households in the Ezra Prentice Homes have at least one person suffering from asthma. So, it would be foolish for New York State to allow Global to construct an oil heating facility to make it easier for them to transload the filthiest petroleum product available, Alberta tar sands oil. Furthermore, it would be an outright affront to the residents of Ezra for the State to approve the Pilgrim Pipelines, leading to an increase in the amount of crude oil coming through the Port that is already negatively affecting the health of this Environmental Injustice community. It is past time to put people above profits.”
The proposed Pilgrim Pipelines would likely carry Bakken shale crude oil 170 miles from Albany to New Jersey, and refined products would return, traversing more than 200 state-regulated waterbodies and crossing the Hudson River twice. Bakken crude has already flowed through Albany in bomb trains and is particularly volatile, and will put communities and water at direct risk. The project is currently under environmental review by the DEC following determination of several environmental impacts.
The expansion of the oil heating facility at the Port of Albany would facilitate the transport of the dirtiest and most climate-intensive fossil fuels on the planet – Canadian tar sands oil – on the Hudson River. Tar sands oil is heavier than common crude, making it virtually impossible to clean up if it spills into a waterbody. The expansion would also increase dangerous oil train traffic through New York State. An environmental review remains ongoing after a controversial 2013 ruling by the DEC that initially deemed the project to have “no” negative environmental impacts – a ruling reversed in 2015.
In light of the Trump Administration’s devastating federal climate rollbacks, including dismantling the Clean Power Plan, approving the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipeline projects, and proposing staggering cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it is now up to states like New York to protect the environment and public health. Governor Cuomo’s ambitious goal of generating half of the state’s energy from renewable sources like wind and solar by 2030 is a significant step towards a cleaner future, and cannot be accomplished by furthering fossil fuel infrastructure in New York.
Source: Environmental Advocates of New York