Tag Archives: Port of Albany

Benicia decision being felt in Albany NY

Repost from the Albany Times-Herald

Ruling on oil trains hailed

Federal action seen as boost to local, state control over projects

By Brian Nearing, Thursday, September 29, 2016 10:03 pm

ALBANY  >  A federal ruling on a oil-by-rail facility in California could hand state and local officials in New York and across the country a powerful legal tool to oversee the projects, which have been controlled primarily by federal rules.

The federal Surface Transportation Board this month sided with officials in Benicia, a small city near San Francisco, in a dispute with an oil refining company over a proposed storage terminal for crude oil brought in by tanker trains. The Valero Refining Company had argued it was exempt from a city denial because it was functioning as a rail carrier, and governed by federal transportation rules — a legal concept called “preemption” — but the federal board rejected the claim.

“Valero is not a rail carrier, nor is it acting under the auspices of a rail carrier,” according to the federal decision. Critics of oil train traffic directed in recent years to two oil terminals at the Port of Albany hailed the ruling as a victory for more state and local control.

“This puts the state Department of Environmental Conservation in a very strong position to require the oil terminals to explain the full impacts of their operations,” said Chris Amato, an attorney for the not-for-profit environmental group Earthjustice.

This month, the DEC announced it was requiring one terminal operator, Global Partners, to answer additional environmental questions on its request to construct a crude oil heating terminal that could be used to process Canadian tar sands oil.

“Nothing in the opinion suggests that DEC’s current course of action with respect the Port of Albany should be altered,” a DEC statement said.

Critics of earlier DEC environmental approvals for the Global and Buckeye oil terminals have been urging the state to rescind its approvals, but the state had responded that such authority rested with the federal government, not the state.

    NORTHEAST PUBLIC RADIO: Advocates Call On Feds To Ban Rail Transport Of Bakken Oil

    Repost from WAMC Northeast Public Radio
    [Editor:  Significant quote: “More than 80 environmental, business, recreational and other organizations along with former members of state agencies, current and former state legislators and both the Plattsburgh and Burlington City Councils have signed a letter to the Vermont and New York Congressional delegation calling for a ‘federal legislatively imposed ban on the transport of oil along Lake Champlain and the Hudson River.'”  – RS]

    Advocates Call On Federal Officials To Ban Rail Transport Of Bakken Oil

    By Pat Bradley, Apr 14, 2016
    PAT BRADLEY/WAMC

    A coalition of environmental and municipal officials stood in a park overlooking the Saranac River and a rail trestle this morning. They announced a new effort to convince federal representatives from New York and Vermont to ban crude oil transport in order to protect Lake Champlain and the Hudson River.

    The group met at MacDonough Park across from City Hall. The park is only a few hundred yards from a rail trestle that daily sees trains carrying crude oil cross over the Saranac River as it empties into Lake Champlain. The advocates say transporting Bakken oil by rail remains an unacceptable risk to Vermont and New York, and is especially hazardous to the sensitive ecosystems of Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks.

    More than 80 environmental, business, recreational and other organizations along with former members of state agencies, current and former state legislators and both the Plattsburgh and Burlington City Councils have signed a letter to the Vermont and New York Congressional delegation calling for a “federal legislatively imposed ban on the transport of oil along Lake Champlain and the Hudson River.”

    National Wildlife Federation Senior Counsel Jim Murphy outlined a precipitous increase in rail accidents nationally over the past three years and says the oil trains that travel along Lake Champlain are too dangerous. “We have concluded that there is no safe way to transport this oil at this time. The trains that roll along this lake are sometimes twice the length of the train that destroyed Lac Megantic. The danger is just simply too high.”

    Plattsburgh Ward One City Councilor Rachelle Armstrong called the oil trains travelling through the city an ominous problem. “Our municipalities need to stand up and become the advocates in a bold and aggressive way so that we bring the attention to bear on this issue that our leaders at the federal level need to recognize.”

    The rail corridor along Lake Champlain also passes through the Adirondack Park. Adirondack Council spokesman John Sheehan says the trains pose a significant risk to the largest park in the contiguous United States. “This is also considered to be a biosphere reserve by the United Nations. The danger here is also to a drinking water supply for one hundred eighty thousand people. Lake Champlain serves as water for people from Vermont, New York and Quebec. So we have grave concerns about the environment, about communities and about wild lands here and we’re hoping that the federal government takes them seriously.”

    The trains carrying Bakken crude travel 100 miles along Lake Champlain and through the Adirondacks to the Port of Albany. Lake Champlain Committee Executive Director Lori Fisher believes a catastrophic accident is not a matter of if, but when. “In the past we have pushed for a ban on the DOT-111’s. That hasn’t happened. There’s been some movement to upgrade trains to the twelve thirty two’s. They don’t represent a greater safety for our communities. That’s why we see the need to push for a ban on oil transport until it can be safe. We know it’s not safe now and it’s a ticking time bomb and we need to act now.”

    The advocates noted that the evacuation zone from an oil train derailment in Plattsburgh includes City Hall, the downtown business area, the Country Government Center and numerous schools.

      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.