Being crude in Albany | March 21, 2014 | Post by Andy Arthur

Last night’s presentation by Chris Amato at the Save the Pine Bush dinner got me thinking ….

The crude oil issue in Albany and along the Hudson Valley is a difficult one for many individuals who think deeply about it. Obviously, having a light crude supply for our east coast refineries in like the Baaken Shale oil is an important one when it comes to having affordable energy in the east coast. On the other hand, we can only imagine the disaster it would be to have one of those many oil trains roll over along the Hudson River.

They are moving more and more crude out of the Albany Port. Once a major oil importation port that supplied most of Upstate New York and New England with quality refined oil products, now a lot of the flow has been reversed to bring light crude oil out from the Baaken Shale to load onto ships and bring to east coast refineries.

As a whole, light crude isn’t that bad if it’s spilled. It’s the stuff they produce in the Southern Tier of New York and Pennsylvania in limited quantities. Cleaning it up is more like cleaning up used motor oil then a heavy nasty crude like tar sands oil. But all oil is toxic, smothers plants and animals, and ultimately rots aways with a high nutrient content that depletes the oxygen in the water.

Oil tankers in Albany

Now, Albany is faced with increased crude oil transport. If anything increases risks, it’s the practice of expanding the amount of material – as you running against the law of large numbers. The increased crude oil flowing through the port also means there will be more traffic, more risk of collisions, and mistakes as people rush to get the oil from one place to another. Light crude oil explodes and burns relatively easily, as it’s closer to gasoline then tar.

There is also the issue of the steam plant that Global Partners LLP wants to build to allow the use of heated railcars as the port, for unloading heavier crudes. Many are concerned that this proposal will bring in tar sands oil to the port. Even if it’s just pumped, heavy Alberta crude, and not the tar sands, this heavy oil is problematic. Heavy crude might not flow very far at normal temperatures, but it will certainly sink and coat the river bottom and get spread around the river bottom.

The crude oil issue is not my personal issue. Save the Pine Bush is the main issue I am involved in these days, especially as work seems to consume so much of my time and emotional energy. But I think it’s a good thing that people are out there championing policies that will help protect our communities and our river.

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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.