The Pilgrim Pipelines are a $1 billion project proposing to construct two parallel oil pipelines—the first ever in New York—running between Albany, NY and Linden, NJ. One pipeline would carry oil from North Dakota’s Bakken shale 178 miles south from Albany, across environmentally fragile areas and critical water resources in the Hudson River Valley and New Jersey Highlands, to refineries in Linden New Jersey. The other pipeline could be used to send refined products back north along the same route to Albany. These pipelines could be used in any way that the industry deems necessary, including for one-way transportation of oil either to or from Albany, NY. The plan is to use these pipelines to greatly increase the capacity of Albany to process oil headed for New Jersey refineries.
While the company responsible for this project, Pilgrim Pipelines Holdings, LLC, has stated that pipelines are much safer than bomb trains and oil-laden barges, this statement fails to consider that the oil flowing through the Pilgrim Pipelines would not replace oil travelling along the Hudson River by train and barge. The oil traveling through these pipelines would flow alongside the oil currently being transported by rail and barge, which is not slated to decline.
The Pilgrim Pipelines would pose an unacceptable risk to the health and safety of communities between Albany, NY and Linden, NJ. It would exacerbate our already-unhealthy dependence on fossil fuels at precisely the time when we need to aggressively move towards a clean energy future built around renewables in order to combat climate change. We need to protect ourselves, our communities, and our environment from the impacts of dirty and dangerous energy extraction, transportation, and use.
Catskill Mountainkeeper is opposing this project using multiple strategies. We are on the Steering Committee of the Coalition Against the Pilgrim Pipelines (CAPP), which is working on a strategy to support individual towns along the route to organize opposition to the project. We are applying pressure on the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC) to make sure that the process pertaining to this project is transparent and that potentially affected individuals have the time and support needed to provide public input and respond to any future environmental impact statement. We act as advisors and communicators on behalf of the individuals and communities who will be forced to bear the burden of oil pipelines running through their towns and backyards. We are working on the state legislative level to build awareness and garner support for a bill to ban this project.
Our work at the national level with groups fighting Bakken oil extraction and transportation projects, as well as our leadership in the victorious New York State fracking fight, enables us to bring a bigger picture and clearer understanding of the impacts that the Pilgrim Pipelines project will entail. Our New York State-specific expertise will help us to lead a successful campaign to protect New York residents. By bringing in voices of affected stakeholders from North Dakota to public forums in New York, we help to illustrate the dangers that these pipelines pose.
This work dovetails with our efforts as part of the statewide coalition United Against Fossil Fuels (UAFF), which is working on all the infrastructure fights in the state including the Seneca Lake storage project, the Dominion market project, and the CPV gas generating facility in Orange County. It is also related closely to our work around the Port of Albany in opposition to a tar sands boiler and the increased amount of Bakken oil stored and transported from our state’s port. The Pilgrim Pipelines project would further fuel the transformation of the Port of Albany into a fossil fuel hub, which would largely serve to export fossil fuels from New York while placing the environmental burden on New Yorkers themselves.
On September 14, 2016, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the New York State Thruway Authority - as co-lead agencies pursuant to SEQR, published a positive declaration, which requires the preparation of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Pilgrim Pipelines project. They have also agreed that there will be a scoping process and an extended comment period on the draft scope once it is published so that the public and other agencies can be involved to help determine the scope of subjects that will be studied in the DEIS concerning the Pilgrim Pipeline