Tag Archives: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo

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.

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    New York State Bans Fracking

    Repost from EcoWatch
    [Editor:  See additional coverage in Bloomberg and the FuelFix.  – RS]

    It’s Official: New York Bans Fracking

    By Cole Mellino, June 29, 2015 4:07 pm

    New York State officially banned fracking today by issuing its formal Findings Statement, which completed the state’s seven-year review of fracking.

    “After years of exhaustive research and examination of the science and facts, prohibiting high-volume hydraulic fracturing is the only reasonable alternative,” said New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens in a statement. “High-volume hydraulic fracturing poses significant adverse impacts to land, air, water, natural resources and potential significant public health impacts that cannot be adequately mitigated. This decision is consistent with DEC’s mission to conserve, improve and protect our state’s natural resources, and to enhance the health, safety and welfare of the people of the state.”

    Today representatives of New Yorkers Against Fracking, Frack Action and the Sierra Club delivered this giant “Thank You” scroll signed by hundreds of state residents to the 2nd floor of the Capitol Executive Chamber.
    Today, representatives of New Yorkers Against Fracking, Frack Action and the Sierra Club delivered this giant “Thank You” scroll signed by hundreds of state residents to the 2nd floor of the Capitol Executive Chamber.

    The Findings Statement concludes that “there are no feasible or prudent alternatives that adequately avoid or minimize adverse environmental impacts and address risks to public health from this activity.” Two groups heavily involved in the campaign, New Yorkers Against Fracking and Americans Against Fracking, praised the decision.

    Mark Ruffalo, an advisory board member of Americans Against Fracking, worked diligently to ban fracking in his home state and recently made an appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart to encourage the U.S. to go 100 percent renewable by 2050. In a statement on the finalization of New York’s ban on fracking, Ruffalo said:

    I applaud the Cuomo Administration for protecting the public health and safety of New Yorkers by finalizing the ban on high volume fracking. Governor Cuomo has set a precedent for the nation by carefully considering the science, which shows a range of public health and environmental harms, and doing what’s best for the people, not the special interests of Big Oil and Gas. Already, other states and countries are following New York’s lead, with prohibitions including Maryland, Scotland, Wales and just today a crucial county in England. Along with many New Yorkers, I look forward to working on advancing renewable energy and efficiency, showing the world that a cleaner, healthier, renewable energy future is possible. Today I’m proud and thankful to be a New Yorker.

    Industry groups have, of course, threatened to sue but the attorneys at Earthjustice are confident that the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s exhaustive review “will withstand legal challenge” and Earthjustice pledges “to stand alongside the state in any legal challenge.”

    “Today, nearly a year to the day after communities won the right to ban fracking, New York’s historic statewide ban on fracking is now the law of the land,” says Earthjustice Managing Attorney Deborah Goldberg, who represented the town of Dryden, New York, which won its precedent-setting fracking ban case one year ago tomorrow. “We salute Governor Andrew Cuomo’s refusal to bow to industry pressure. He had the courage to do what no other state or federal leader has had the courage to do: let the available scientific evidence dictate whether fracking should proceed in New York.”

    New York now joins Vermont in outlawing the practice altogether, which has been banned in the Green Mountain state since 2012. As Ruffalo mentioned, this spring Maryland approved a moratorium on fracking in the state until October 2017. Scotland and Wales have also instituted moratoriums. And today a county in England rejected applications for fracking permits, which the Wall Street Journal says “effectively extends the moratorium on fracking in the U.K.” Meanwhile, Texas and Oklahoma both passed legislation this spring, barring local municipalities from instituting fracking bans.

    “New Yorkers can celebrate the fact that we won’t be subjected to the toxic pollution and health risks fracking inevitably brings,” said Alex Beauchamp, northeast region director for Food & Water Watch. “By banning fracking, Governor Cuomo stood up to the oil and gas industry, and in so doing became a national leader on health and the environment. He set a standard for human health and safety that President Obama and other state leaders should be striving for.”

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      Ralliers outside NY governor’s office call for ‘bomb train’ ban

      Repost from WNYT, Albany NY

      Ralliers outside governor’s office call for ‘bomb train’ ban

      By: WNYT Staff, 05/07/2015 6:35 PM

      ALBANY – Governor Andrew Cuomo likely receives a lot of mail.

      However, on Thursday an attempt was made to hand deliver a letter to the Executive Mansion.

      If you’re Andrew Cuomo, you’re only as good as your last decision and the group “People of Albany United for Safe Energy,” or PAUSE that was thanking the governor for his fracking ban, returned to their main mission — a bomb train ban.

      The rally outside the Governor’s Mansion in Albany’s South End is just blocks from where the so-called bomb trains are stored and where they travel the rails on their way to and from the Albany port.

      “We are unsafe. We have millions of gallons of oil coming in to Albany every day,” argued Sandy Steubing of PAUSE.

      The group’s protest Thursday comes one day after six oil cars caught fire and exploded in North Dakota. The town was evacuated and no one was hurt, but each derailment — five in as many months — highlights the need, believe activists, for an oil train ban in New York.

      “It is no longer a matter of if, but when. Joins in doing everything you possibly can to eliminate the ‘when’ from our lives,” urged Andrew Tarwerdi, also of PAUSE.

      Last week the federal government announced new rules which it maintains will strengthen the safe transportation of flammable liquids by rail. The oil and rail industry has already announced it will challenge the rules in court.

      “The derailment is a wakeup call that the industry needs to work on a solution and stop fighting the changes,” declared New York Senator Chuck Schumer.

      The pause activists don’t think the federal regulations go far enough, soon enough, anyway. The hope is their letter, delivered to Governor Andrew Cuomo will convince New York to ban bomb trains

      “Are we going to continue to let these trains explode and ruin our communities and kill our people,” asked Wille White, a South End advocate.

      It’s important to note that in North Dakota, it was a really small town, only about 20 people had to be evacuated.

      If there were an explosion in Albany, during the day when all the commuters are in town, the evacuation numbers would be in the thousands.

      The state trooper outside the Governor’s Mansion said he could not take the letter.

      So, it will have to be mailed after all.

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        Green Groups press New York state for $100 million Oil Spill Fund

        Repost from the Press-Republican, Plattsburgh NY

        Green Groups press for $100 million state Oil Spill Fund

        Claim $40M proposed in state budget won’t cover cost of derailments

        By Kim Smith Dedam, March 23, 2015

        ELIZABETHTOWN — Environmental groups are pushing state lawmakers to bulk up the state’s Oil Spill Fund.

        They see a need for $100 million set aside, not $40 million as is currently proposed in the executive and legislative budgets.

        And they have asked Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislators to leave the money within the purview of the State Comptroller’s Office and not move the fund to State Department of Environmental Conservation coffers.

        “This is a backup fund, mainly because in other cases, where a spill has led to significant cleanup costs, some companies go out of business, including the company whose accident resulted in the explosion at Lac-Megantic in Quebec,” Adirondack Council spokesman John Sheehan said in an interview this week.

        “At that point, there is little the state can do to get the money from the company other than to go to court.”

        ‘DOESN’T TAKE MUCH’

        Total liabilities for the Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, rail disaster in July 2013 could easily reach $2.7 billion over the next decade, the coalition said in a news release.

        The Adirondack Council joined forces with Environmental Advocates, the Sierra Club and Riverkeeper to press the Oil Spill Fund issue.

        “Typically, the requirement for (accident) insurance has not been high enough to cover the cost of an accident that could take place as the result of an explosion,” Sheehan told the Press-Republican.

        “And it doesn’t take much oil to contaminate thousands of gallons of water, especially when we’re talking about a drinking water supply for 188,000 people, which Lake Champlain is.”

        The Canadian Pacific Railroad line runs the entire length of Lake Champlain’s western shore, and oil train trips have increased in recent months.

        Many places where oil cars have spilled and exploded sustained permanent environmental damage, Sheehan said.

        $60 MILLION MORE

        The coalition is not trying to force funding contributions from oil transport companies or the railroads to bolster state Oil Spill Funds.

        They do believe lawmakers in Albany are on the right track in looking to increase funding for next year.

        “However, the $15 million increase to $40 million proposed by (Cuomo) and Assembly budgets could and should be increased.

        “In today’s dollars, the $25 million fund created in 1977 would be a $96.4 million fund today,” the coalition said in a news release.

        “Thus, we urge that the fund cap be increased to $100 million to bring it back to parity with the monetary protection it afforded nearly four decades ago.”

        They also charge that the Oil Spill Fund should be indexed to keep pace with inflation.

        10 WRECKS YEARLY

        “Federal regulators have told us to expect at least 10 major derailments of crude oil trains a year. There have already been four in the last three weeks,” Kate Hudson, Riverkeeper’s Special Projects director, said in a news release.

        “It’s no longer a matter of if, but when, a catastrophe will happen in a New York community. If we are without a robust spill fund, New York citizens could be left to shoulder the cost of the cleanup and damages, just as the citizens of Canada were a year and a half ago.”

        SEPARATE ACCOUNTS

        Environmental advocates also asked Albany to fund emergency response separately from oil spill response and environmental cleanup.

        “We welcome proposed funding for emergency response equipment, supplies and training for state and local emergency services personnel,” the coalition said in a news release.

        “We strongly support the Assembly’s proposed legislation, which would keep that funding separate from the account that pays for remediation costs, as well as the damages associated with loss of life and property damage and economic losses suffered by individuals and businesses in the event of a spill.”

        If response and spill monies are kept in a joint account, they contend, emergency cleanup costs could deplete the response fund, leaving the state without resources to remediate a spill.

        ‘TREMENDOUS RISK’

        Roger Downs, conservation director for the Sierra Club’s Atlantic Chapter, said New Yorkers assume “tremendous risk and little economic benefit” from the millions of gallons of explosive crude oil that “rumble through our cities and along our precious waterways every day.”

        Inaction on the part of the federal government to adequately address the risks or improve oil-tank-car safety should not prevent state lawmakers from building the most robust spill fund possible, he said.

        The joint call for heightened oil-spill resources came within a day of the release of reports from state inspections done at railroad yards in Albany and Buffalo.

        State inspectors found 93 defects in tracks and crude oil cars, including seven critical safety defects that had to be fixed before cars could continue operation.

        Inspections were done on tankers at a CSX rail yard in Buffalo and at the Canadian Pacific yard in Albany.

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