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Global gives up on heavy crude, but flow of oil through the Hudson Valley remains a concern

Despite Global victory, flow of crude remains a concern

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Global terminalThe latest victory in protecting the Hudson River from crude oil risks proves yet again: Our voices make all the difference. Coordinated, sustained public pressure can win the day. But the fight against crude oil transport is not over yet.

Global Companies announced on Tuesday that it has withdrawn a 2013 request to modify its air pollution permit to expand its operations at the Port of Albany. A key component of the withdrawn application was the plan to install boilers to heat heavy crude oil at Global’s Albany terminal. Heating would facilitate the transfer of heavy crude from rail cars to river barges for transport down the Hudson.

Public opposition grew as Global moved forward with its plan and it’s easy to see why.

tanker cars

Tanker cars laden with crude near the Ezra Prentice Homes in Albany. Photo: Earthjustice

Communities in Albany’s South End are already dealing with air pollution, noise, and odor from the terminal’s existing operations, and this modification would only add to those negative public health and environmental impacts. The transport of heavy crude on the Hudson would put the river—and the aquatic life it supports—at risk in the event of a catastrophic oil spill. And if something did go wrong, the towns that rely on the Hudson for drinking water would be left to worry about whether the product transported on the river threatened the water coming out of their taps.

We’ve been opposing this project for years. In 2014, Riverkeeper, Waterkeeper Alliance, the Ezra Prentice Homes Tenants Association, Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter, and the Center for Biological Diversity challenged the Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) determination that the modification would not have significant environmental impacts. After we filed our lawsuit, DEC changed course, indicating that the project would require environmental review. Global then sued DEC, and we intervened. Global lost that case on appeal—an important turning point in our efforts to stop this project.

This victory would not have happened without our partners, who are dedicated to protecting their communities from pollution and to safeguarding the Hudson River from the risks associated with crude oil transport. We are fortunate to work with such a committed group of community activists and environmental organizations in the Hudson Valley and we are grateful to the Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic and Earthjustice for representing our coalition in court.

Even with the boilers off the table, the Albany terminal is still permitted to handle massive amounts of petroleum products, including 1.8 billion gallons of crude oil like Bakken. According to Global’s spokesperson, the company will be submitting another application later this year that will include a reduction in that number. We’ll be keeping an eye out for that and continuing to urge DEC to take a hard look at all the environmental impacts associated with this facility.

Learn more:

Crude oil transport on the Hudson
Halted terminal plans at New Windsor signal progress in crude oil campaign
Watching The Rails:One Community’s Quest For Safety (Earthjustice)


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