Scrutiny urged for oil terminal plan

Times-Herald-Record | April 17, 2014 | Column by James Walsh

Environmentalists are pressing Gov. Andrew Cuomo to require a full environmental impact review of Global Cos.' plans to heat petroleum products at its New Windsor and Albany terminals.

A group traveled to Albany Tuesday to protest the state's growing role as a national oil hub and deliver a letter to Cuomo signed by 11 environmental organizations.

The state in 2011 allowed a near-doubling of petroleum product shipments to almost 3 billion gallons annually.

"Global Companies LLC has proposed to import, for the first time, Canadian tar sands oil into New York, heat this oil at its Albany and New Windsor terminals, and then ship it down the Hudson," the letter states.

Tar sands oil can pose a threat because of its volatility and tendency to sink if spilled in water. Oil trains in the Hudson Valley sometimes travel within feet of the Hudson River and traverse such populated areas as Kingston and Newburgh.

The letter, signed by groups including Scenic Hudson, Environmental Advocates of New York, and the National Wildlife Federation, states that "common sense" dictates subjecting the plans to a full environmental impact statement.

Cuomo spokeswoman Christine Pritchard noted that the governor has been working with both municipalities and the federal government to address safety concerns.

"We join the environmental groups in our concerns about the safety of rail transport of crude oil and invite them to join us in the effort to secure expedited reforms at the federal level," Pritchard said via email.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation continues to review Global's request to modify its air-quality permit in New Windsor to allow the heating process. It ruled in November that the company's plans in Albany posed no significant impact.

DEC officials backtracked last month amid the growing safety concerns of public officials including Cuomo, environmentalists and Albany residents. The DEC now considers its Albany findings subject to further review.

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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.