Stein speaks out against ‘bomb trains’

NYSNYS News (via Troy Record) | April 7, 2015 | Column by Kyle Hughes

ALBANY >> Green Party presidential hopeful Jill Stein visited Albany Tuesday to condemn what she called “bomb trains” – the crude oil transport trains compared to a rolling pipeline and a mass casualties disaster waiting to happen.

“These are essentially weapons of mass destruction that have been regularly detonating every seven to 14 weeks with either major derailments or very significant explosions or toxic spills,” she said of the oil trains. “And they are, importantly, going through population centers and particularly through Albany which is a critical point of transfer.” 

“It puts the people of Albany particularly at risk, and after the explosion at Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, in July of 2013, it’s astonishing that almost two years have gone by and there are no new federal safety rules,” Stein said, referring to the oil train disaster that killed 47. 

“This is absolutely a disgrace,” she said. “It is a credit to the communities that you are standing up and insisted that measures be taken immediately.” 

After listening to Stein’s remarks, Albany County Executive Dan McCoy said she is right about the danger the trains pose to the public. The trains are a common site on rail lines near the Port of Albany, a major transshipment point for oil from Canada and the western U.S. destined for refineries out of state. 

McCoy said Albany is now the third busiest oil hub in the U.S., and continues to expand. Oil production has taken off in North America because of technological advances that have permitted hydrofracking extraction of oil and gas. 

“I say to everyone, show me where all these extra trains coming to the Port of Albany have brought us all this revenue to the county,” McCoy said. “We’ve taken all the risks. Where are the benefits?” 

McCoy said localities and first responders need more resources to be ready for oil train emergency, whether derailments or explosions and massive fires. “We’ve got to figure out, how do you fight that? How do you evacuate? How do you plan for that? What happens if it gets into the water?” 

He said the problem is made more challenging by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2 percent property tax cap, which limits the amount of funds that can be raised locally for emergency preparedness. McCoy noted that the current county budget contained no tax hike. 

“We’ve been dancing with the devil,” he said . “It’s not no longer with me a question of if (an accident) is going to happen, it is when it is going to happen.” 

McCoy said the trains are a problem in both urban and rural Albany County as rail traffic has boomed in the wake of the expansions of oil drilling in out west. Much of the oil is shipped through Canada to New York because the region is both a rail hub and a center for Hudson River barge transportation. 

McCoy said he attended Stein’s press conference not out of interest in the presidential race, but because of her determination to address the oil trains issue. Beside meeting with the media, Stein went to inspect the oil train facilities that have sprung up around the port, which rail lines border some densely populated poor neighborhoods. 

Stein’s stop in Albany was one of three she was making this week in New York as she gears up to run for president in 2016. She was due to stop later Tuesday in New Paltz, then go to Staten Island on Wednesday to talk about the NYPD death of Eric Garner. She said she is testing the waters for another national run by visiting communities facing crises. 

“We are reaching out to front line communities to see if we can serve the causes and the justice that they deserve. That’s how we’re testing the waters,” she said, comparing her approach to how other candidates test the waters by asking contributors for money. 

Stein, 64, is a Massachusetts physician who has run for various offices in her home state and is expected to run for president again next year. She was barely a blip in the 2012 election, getting less than one-half of 1 percent of the vote.

She announced an exploratory committee earlier this year, but has set no date for a formal entry into the presidential contest.

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Stein speaks out against ‘bomb trains’
PAUSE, People of Albany United for Safe Energy
PAUSE is a grassroots group of individuals who have come together to promote safe, sustainable energy and fight for environmental justice. We engage the greater public to stop the fossil fuel industry’s assault on the people of Albany and our environment.