The fight to prevent New York State from becoming a massive distribution center for fossil fuels drilled in other states
Fracking has been banned in New York but we now face a potentially catastrophic threat from trains, barges and ships carrying highly volatile crude oil through communities all across New York State. Trains are bringing oil from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota to the port of Albany, where it is being transferred to ships and barges for a trip south to the swath of refineries between New York City and Philadelphia where it is refined into gas.
The crude is traveling down the Hudson River and going through communities in Greene, Ulster, Orange and Rockland Counties. Every community along its route runs the risk of spills, fires and explosions.
Pilgrim Pipeline – No Benefit to NY – Just Harm
Pilgrim Pipeline Holdings, LLC is planning a bidirectional pipeline that will run 178 miles down the NY State Thruway Right of Way to New Jersey refineries. It will go through Kingston, Newburgh and end in Linden, NJ. For a visual of this and other pipelines across the U.S., click here.
The pipeline would only bring risk, and no benefit to the towns affected. Many towns in New York and New Jersey are being proactive and passing resolutions against it. These include the Town and Village of New Paltz, City of Kingston, Marbletown, Woodstock, and Rochester as well as over 20 townships in New Jersey. Several more towns in Ulster County are considering similar resolutions including Esopus and Plattekill. In December 2014, the New Jersey State Assembly passed a resolution to oppose the pipeline on the basis of safety concerns for the over 3 million residents of New Jersey whose drinking water lies within the twisting route it would take through seven Garden State Counties.
Proponents of the pipeline say that transport would be safer than the current use of trains and barges now travelling down the Hudson, HOWEVER, many experts expect that the Pilgrim pipeline would only supplement the amount of fuel transported on the river, and not replace it. But regardless of how the crude travels, it exposes communities to same grave risks.
History of Crude Transport in NY
Crude oil transport started in 2012 when Global Oil was granted an air permit to transport oil from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota through New York State turning Albany, NY into a major hub for oil shipments. It is estimated that Albany receives up to 400,000 barrels a day, which is close to 25% of the output from the Bakken oil fields.
Bakken oil is fracked oil and is highly volatile and explosive because it contains a mix of dangerous quantities of toxic chemicals such as butane, ethane, and propane, which don’t generally exist in other oil. Oil transport brings the danger of catastrophic accidents, like the one on July 6, 2013 in Lac-Megantic, Quebec,. A train hauling more than 70 cars filled with volatile crude oil derailed, and the ensuing fire sent a fireball into the sky that destroyed 30 buildings and killed 47 people. This is why these trains that come to Albany are called “Bomb Trains”.
The Big Picture
By letting New York become a conduit for Bakken crude oil, we become complicit in the destruction of many parts of North Dakota where it is drilled and in all of the communities East and West through which the oil travels.
Despite the fossil fuel boom that has brought money to North Dakota, the people are fed up with the oil boom way of life - the “man camps”, unsafe communities, traffic, outrageous rental rates, crime and what its done to their wide open spaces.
If the build out of this oil infrastructure is allowed to go forward unchecked, we are headed for a country that is locked into fossil fuels for the foreseeable future and will suffer the potentially disastrous environmental, health, economic and social impacts of fossil fuel distribution. Catskill Mountainkeeper is fighting to make sure that doesn’t happen.