Tag Archives: Albany NY

Blocking the Bomb Trains: Nationwide Protests On Lac-Megantic Anniversary

Repost from DeSmogBlog
[Editor:  See also video coverage of the Portland vigil on WMTW8 ABC TV.  – RS]

Blocking the Bomb Trains: Nationwide Protests On Lac-Megantic Anniversary

By Justin Mikulka, July 6, 2015 – 16:35
Portland Climate Action Coalition Blocks Rail Tracks on Anniversary of Lac Mégantic Disaster

It’s corporate greed versus the common good, whether it’s rail safety or climate change.”

Those were the words of Lowen Berman, a Portland activist involved in a blockade of oil train tracks to mark the second anniversary of the Lac-Megantic oil train disaster.

Berman and 60 other activists protested in Portland today as part of a national Oil Train Week of Protests led by 350.org and ForestEthics.

A Portland, OR, memorial to the 47 people incinerated by a bomb train in Lac Megantic. photo courtesy of Climate Action Coalition

Portland’s Climate Action Coalition sponsored the blockade at Arc Logistics for a memorial service on the two-year anniversary of the oil train derailment that killed 47 people in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec.

While activists in Portland were protesting against the danger of bomb trains on the anniversary of the disaster in Lac-Megantic, activists in Lac-Megantic were also marching.

Emotions and politics are tied together in this, unfortunately,” Jonathan Santerre, an activist and founder of the Carré bleu Lac-Mégantic citizens’ group told the Montreal Gazette. “It’s shocking that after everything that happened, people’s lives still come second to money.”

Santerre has a point. As detailed on DeSmogBlog, the events in Lac-Megantic can be directly attributed to corporate cost cutting.

In Portland, the activists were blockading tracks where oil trains travel weekly through North Portland. The Climate Action Coalition is calling for an end to fossil fuel development and an immediate transition to a renewable energy.

At the same time, a new report by the Sightline Institute predicts that if all of the currently planned projects for oil-by-rail infrastructure in the Northwest are completed, they would require more than 100 loaded mile-long trains per week to traverse the Northwest’s railway system.

And residents along the tracks are becoming increasingly aware of the threats. In addition to the protests in Portland, activists were arrested in Benicia, California today protesting the oil trains.

In Albany, New York — the largest distribution hub on the East coast for oil trains, earning it the nickname Houston on the Hudson — there was another protest.

There is much to fear among residents living near the tracks within the blast zone, and you certainly don’t have to be an environmentalist to care about this public safety threat. Sadly, The Hill suggests that this whole week will be marked by protests by “greens.”

There is no doubt that there is increased awareness and efforts to try to protect the millions of people who live near the tracks carrying dangerous oil trains. However, as we wrote over a year ago here at DeSmog, the people of Lac-Megantic still want the executives at the top to be held accountable. As one local said at that time as they arrested the train engineer and other low level employees involved in the Lac-Megantic disaster, “It’s not them we want.”

With the new rail regulations doing little to protect people, and the CEOs of rail and oil companies supporting lawsuits challenging the new weak regulations, it is unlikely things will change. As the Portland activist said today, “It’s corporate greed versus the common good.”

Lac-Megantic is a stark example of how corporate greed is winning.



    Albany NY: Rally on Lac Megantic disaster anniversary

    Repost from the Albany Times Union

    Rally on Lac Megantic disaster anniversary in Albany

    By Eric Anderson, July 6, 2015
    Oil train opponents rally in front of the Governor's Mansion in Albany Monday.
    Oil train opponents rally in front of the Governor’s Mansion in Albany Monday.

    Between 80 and 100 people, many affiliated with People of Albany United for Safe Energy, rallied in front of the Governor’s Mansion on Eagle Street in Albany at noon Monday, calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to ban oil train traffic in the state.

    The rally also marked the second anniversary of the Lac Megantic oil train derailment and explosion that killed 47 people and destroyed the center of the small Quebec town.

    That train’s destination was the Irving Oil Co. refinery in St. John, New Brunswick, where it was to unload its cargo of fracked crude from the Bakken oil field in North Dakota.

    The Port of Albany has become a major transshipment point for Bakken crude to refineries up and down the East Coast, with at least some of that oil also destined for the Irving Oil refinery.

    Several speakers at Monday’s event called for a shift to renewable energy sources from fossil fuels.

    “We have to transition our economy completely off fossil fuels,” said one speaker, Neely Kelley, lead organizer of Mothers Out Front, which seeks to raise awareness about the dangers of climate change.

    “Governor Cuomo, you have a moral imperative to take the climate seriously,” said Peter Iwanowicz, executive director of Environmental Advocates of New York.

    PAUSE has sought to have oil trains, some of which are parked next to the backyards of residents of Ezra Prentice apartments in Albany, prohibited. State officials have said they haven’t the power to regulate railroads, that it’s a federal responsibility.

    But activists have said that state officials could declare the oil trains an “imminent hazard” and ban them.

    Whether Gov. Cuomo heard the protesters’ message Monday wasn’t clear. The governor was in New York City.


      New York says no to Albany oil terminal expansion; Riverkeeper responds

      Press Release from Riverkeeper New York
      [Editor: This from our contact in Albany: “New York State rescinds the Global expansion NegDec (aka, FONSI) and declares the application incomplete.  Cites air issues, spill response issues, potential “significant adverse impacts on the environment”, and EPA concerns.  Letter from the State attached.”  –  RS]

      Riverkeeper Responds to Decision Regarding Albany Oil Terminal Expansion

      For Immediate Release: May 21, 2015
      Contact: Leah Rae, Riverkeeper
      914-478-4501, ext. 238

      Riverkeeper applauds the decision by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation regarding the proposed expansion of Global Companies’ rail-to-barge transfer terminal at in Albany, which would facilitate the transport of heavy “tar sands” crude oil. Riverkeeper calls on the state to follow through on what they’ve begun today and promptly issue a “positive declaration” requiring an environmental impact statement.

      “It is good for New York State that the DEC came to a proper decision in one of the most important environmental matters facing the state. We look forward to participating with the state on a full public safety and environmental review that is robust and protective of our communities and our waterways.”

      The shipment of tar sands crude oil would pose a whole new level of risk to the Hudson River. In the event of a spill, the toxic, sinking crude would mix into the water column and be unrecoverable.

      A lawsuit filed by Riverkeeper and other groups in June 2014 challenged the DEC’s decision not to require an environmental impact statement. Riverkeeper had reminded the DEC that state law required an environmental impact statement on the proposal due to the significant environmental and public safety impacts, ranging from air pollutants to the increased risk of fire and explosion in downtown Albany. The DEC’s own Environmental Justice Policy requires that nearby communities be consulted and informed about proposals that may affect them so that those communities can be meaningfully involved in their review.