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Letter to Cuomo: Don’t Turn Albany into “Oilbany”

Forty-seven people died from the 2013 derailment of an oil train in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec. (Sûreté du Québec/Wikimedia Commons)
Forty-seven people died from the 2013 derailment of an oil train in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec. (Sûreté du Québec/Wikimedia Commons)
April 17, 2017

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Thousands of New Yorkers are asking Gov. Andrew Cuomo to reject two projects that would increase the flow of crude oil through Albany.

A letter signed by more than 3,500 New Yorkers asked the governor to deny permits for construction of an oil facility at the Port of Albany, and the Pilgrim Pipeline. Conor Bambrick, air and energy director at Environmental Advocates of New York, said building that fossil fuel infrastructure would make the state capital a global focal point of transshipped crude oil, turning Albany into "Oilbany."

"It's exactly the opposite type of activity that the governor would need to endorse and embrace in order to meet the very aggressive but necessary goal that he has laid out for the state,” Bambrick said.

Gov. Cuomo's clean energy plans include a goal of 50 percent of the state's power being generated from renewable sources by 2030, and an end to the use of fossil fuels entirely by 2050.

Pipeline proponents say it would be safer than transporting the oil by rail or barge down the Hudson River. The Pilgrim Pipeline would carry highly volatile Bakken crude from Albany to New Jersey.

Bambrick pointed out that Bakken crude is transported to Albany from the Dakotas by rail, using long strings of tanker cars often called "bomb trains."

"This would be another enticement to bring the oil trains through here to Albany to load them onto those pipes, threatening potentially thousands of waterways along the proposed path of the pipeline,” he said.

Several trains carrying Bakken crude have derailed, causing massive spills and, in some cases, disastrous fires.

Bambrick also noted that the proposed oil facility would be used to heat up one of the dirtiest forms of crude oil from Canadian tar sands. Bakken crude is so thick when it's cold that it needs to be warmed to be pumped from rail cars to storage or barges.

"We saw a spill that occurred years ago in the Kalamazoo River that has cost well over $1 billion now to try and clean up, and they're not even close to getting the job done,” he said.

Bambrick said that, with efforts to slow climate change under attack in Washington, the governor's leadership toward a clean energy future is more important than ever.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NY