February 09, 2015
Contact: Sandra Steubing

Albany County Legislators call out the Department of Environmental Conservation

At noon the People of Albany United for Safe Energy (PAUSE) will host a press conference of Albany County legislators and community leaders at the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Headquarters, 625 Broadway, in Albany. We will endorse the following legislation -

Proclamation of the Albany County Legislature requesting full transparency and greater scrutiny from the NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation regarding Global Partners’ Port of Albany proposal.

This act has been signed by a majority of the Albany County legislators. Copies will be available at the time of the press conference.

A year ago this month 400 citizens of Albany turned out for a presentation by the DEC and Global Partners to voice their concerns about the risks of crude oil by rail in Albany.A year has passed and the DEC has neither rescinded the negative declaration for the proposed oil boiler project nor initiated an environmental impact study including a coordinated review with the County. During the press conference several members of the legislature will speak in addition to other community leaders who have attempted to make their concerns known to the DEC.

Alison McClean Lane, County Legislator from the District 14 states “These trains run right through the eastern border of my district in Watervliet and Menands on their way into Albany; I can see them from my own backyard. Our federal leaders have been calling for a reduction on our dependence on fossil fuel since the Nixon administration. Yet, instead of investing in renewable energy, we are still finding new ways to harvest fossil fuels, such as this highly volatile dangerous hydro-fracked oil that travels through my community daily.” Willie White is Executive Director of A Village, Inc. located in Albany’s South End “This issue has been in our communities far too long; we won’t go away until the oil trains go away, the fight must continue and the struggle must be embraced by all.” Reverend Marc Johnson of St. John’s Church of God in Christ comments on the larger picture: “The oil trains should be viewed as a social and immoral injustice. Placing our neighborhood and community in the role of ‘sacrificial lamb,’ in the event of a chemical accident is unconscionable.” County Legislator Doug Bullock concludes “The increasing tanker train traffic through the Port of Albany and Global Partners Port of Albany project will further increase this traffic along with the highly unstable and potentially explosive Bakken crude oil. Tar Sands and Bakken crude oil are now being combined in these tanker cars which poses serious unanswered questions and safety provisions. Most of the tanker cars are the inferior and aged DOT 111 cars which have been involved in explosions and derailments around the country. We are asking for full transparency and scrutiny by DEC for the health and safety of all capital district residents.”

Evidence regarding the danger of these oil trains keeps mounting. On Saturday, January 31, 2015 there was an 11 car derailment of the Bakken crude in Philadelphia. This is the same type of crude that has caused massive explosions during derailment five times since July of 2013. On that date 47 people were incinerated in Lac-Megantic Quebec and 1/4 of the town was destroyed. Last Tuesday a Metro North train hit a car killing 6 people. Governor Cuomo told WCBS Newsradio 880 that the accident scene was the most gruesome thing he had ever seen. Given the explosive nature of the Bakken, had it been a crude oil train, the consequences would have been significantly greater. Approximately 600 rail cars of Bakken come through Albany County every day. According to the Wall Street Journal each tank car carries the energy equivalent of 2 million sticks of dynamite or the fuel in a wide-body jetliner.  Efforts are being made at the Federal level to eventually make the rail cars safer. However, Karl Alexi of the Federal Railroad Administration stated at a National Transportation Safety Board forum in April, 2014: “At train speeds of 30-40 mph, you cannot build a tank car robust enough to withstand puncture in unit train derailments.”

We will always have human error and mechanical failures. The risks of crude oil trains running through our communities are unnecessary in this age of renewable energy. The energy feasibility study from Stanford and Cornell concludes that New York can derive 100% of its energy needs from the renewable sources of wind, water, and solar by 2030. Dr. Robert Pollin from the Political Economy Research Inst. of UMass Amherst has found that for each million dollars invested we can achieve five oil/gas jobs or thirteen solar jobs. The choice is ours. What are we waiting for?


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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.