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Opposition to Pilgrim Pipeline growing

May 22, 2016 12:05 am
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Andrea Sears reports that the city of Albany has joined dozens of other communities in opposing the Pilgrim Pipeline.

The Albany City Council this week approved a resolution calling the proposed pipeline an environmental risk and a public health hazard. The 178-mile project would carry crude oil from Albany to New Jersey and refined products back.

Roger Downs, conservation director for the Atlantic chapter of the Sierra Club, said the resolution sends a clear signal to the pipeline's developers.

"They know that they're going to need the approval of the city of Albany by a two-thirds majority," he said, "and almost two-thirds of the Common Council voted in opposition to the pipeline."

Pilgrim Pipeline Holdings, the project developer, said a pipeline would be safer than transporting the oil by rail or on barges down the Hudson River. Several oil trains have derailed around the country, causing massive spills and, in one case, a fire that killed 47 people. However, Downs said, the crude oil is shipped to Albany from North Dakota by rail.

"If you look at the numbers, the proposal will actually increase the number of oil trains coming through Albany," he said, "and Albany has already been inundated with these trains."

He said a pipeline wouldn't necessarily eliminate oil trains and barges traveling down the Hudson Valley.

Pipeline projects that, in years past, may have been rubber-stamped by regulators now are being successfully challenged. Downs credited growing public awareness of the dangers and alternatives for the change.

"I think we're seeing more and more citizens seeing the connections between these pipelines and climate change, and they realize that there is a better energy future ahead of them in renewables."

Last month, the state of New York denied a permit for construction of the Constitution Pipeline. Another, the Northeast Energy Direct project, was canceled by its developer.

More information is online at stoppilgrimpipeline.com/resolutions.