The centerpiece of Mountainkeeper’s fight against oil and gas infrastructure in New York is our “Stop the Albany Oil Hub Campaign,” which seeks to thwart industry’s plans to turn Albany into a major fossil fuel hub for the East Coast.
Albany has a long history of serving as a regional distribution center for heating oil and gasoline traveling to Vermont and already is a hub for trains that come from across the country and Canada. Albany is also a port on the Hudson River, allowing for oil transport by barge and tanker, and connects to a rail line that travels from Albany to the East Coast refineries. Albany would also be the starting point for the proposed Pilgrim Pipelines that would transport oil to and from refineries in Linden, NJ.
It is estimated that Albany receives 20-25% of the 400,000 barrels of Bakken oil that are transported by rail each day, but that number would greatly increase if the oil companies are allowed to follow through on their plans for a massive expansion of this capacity.
Our “Stop the Albany Oil Hub Campaign” includes strategic efforts to block a number of individual projects. Mountainkeeper and our allies have developed distinct strategies and tactics for each of these fights, but our overall goal is to stop the flow of oil into and out of Albany at key choke points that can be challenged effectively, and to fight for regulations ensuring that whatever oil does pass through our state in the interim, does so in the safest possible way.
After years of pressure from Mountainkeeper and our coalition partners, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) has finally agreed to hold regulatory hearings in the following areas:
Fight to deny Global Partners a Title V Air Permit - A 2012 Title V air permit that was granted to Global Partners by the NYSDEC to allow the company to transport crude by rail from the Bakken fields to the Port of Albany has expired. Rather than automatically renew the permit, the NYSDEC is requiring Global Partners to submit a new air permit application, which will be subject to a full environmental assessment under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA).
Fight to stop tar sands processing at the Port of Albany - The NYSDEC rescinded its declaration that a boiler to heat tar sands technically, diluted bitumen) at the Port of Albany would NOT pose a significant environmental risk, and asked Global to resubmit a new application, which will also be subject to a full environmental assessment under SEQRA.
Fight to stop the Pilgrim Pipelines - The Pilgrim Pipeline Holdings, LLC applied to build a bi-directional pipeline that would carry crude oil 178 miles from the Port of Albany down the NY State Thruway Right of Way—and beyond—to the refineries in Linden, NJ and bring the refined products back north to Albany. In September 2016, the NYSDEC issued a Positive Declaration of Environmental Significance that triggers the scoping process during which the NYSDEC gathers information—including from the public—about the scope of the required Environmental Assessment.
Each of these three projects must now go though a regulatory process that closely mirrors the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) process that Mountainkeeper and our allies navigated so successfully in the fight to stop fracking in New York, making our team highly qualified to help lead these fights.
The fight to stop the expansion of oil flowing through Albany is not just critical to New York, but also has national implications. Albany’s importance as a transportation hub cannot be underestimated. There is no other location on the East Coast that has the number and mix of transportation options as Albany, and it would not be easy for the oil industry to find an alternative location. However, if and when the oil industry targets other locations, Mountainkeeper will work closely with our partners all over the country to share our tactics and strategies so we can fight this proposed oil expansion on all fronts.