ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Environmental groups are citing a provision in a 107-year-old transportation law in trying to derail an oil pipeline project from upstate New York to New Jersey.
The New York Transportation Corporations Law of 1909 gives villages and cities veto power over oil pipelines crossing their borders, Daniel Raichel, a lawyer for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said Monday. Since five communities in the Hudson Valley path of the Pilgrim Pipeline project have passed resolutions opposing it, further review by New York’s Thruway Authority and Department of Environmental Conservation is a waste of resources, he said.
“What we’re asking the agencies to do is to suspend review of the project until Pilgrim can submit all the necessary information that will enable the agencies to do their job,” Raichel said. “Part of that is to show there is a reasonable likelihood they’ll get the municipal approvals.”
“It is my belief that the local approvals needed for these pipelines are way out of reach,” said Rosendale Councilwoman Jen Metzger, who introduced the first local resolution opposing the project in New York.
Connecticut-based Pilgrim Pipeline Holdings LLC has proposed to build two parallel pipelines running 178 miles between the Port of Albany and a refinery in Linden, New Jersey. One would carry crude oil, which arrives in Albany by train from North Dakota’s Bakken Shale region, to the refinery. The other would carry refined gasoline, diesel and fuel oil back north.
Pilgrim spokesman Paul Nathanson said the New York’s review of the pipeline project will “demonstrate to everyone that Pilgrim is a safer, more environmentally friendly and economically efficient way to transport current flows of oil and refined products around the region that are now being transported mainly by river barge.”
Environmental groups and elected officials have expressed concern in recent years about the potential for a catastrophic oil spill involving barges that transport oil products up and down the Hudson River from Albany’s port.
Nathanson said Pilgrim is continuing to meet with municipalities along the route, and its lawyers “have confidence in the viability of our project and in our ability to obtain approvals needed to build the pipeline.”
The state Department of Environmental Conservation and Thruway Authority, which are gearing up for an environmental impact review of the proposed pipeline, had no comment on the environmental groups’ letter requesting suspension of the review.
About 80 percent of the pipeline’s route through New York’s Hudson Valley is on Thruway property. In New Jersey, about three dozen towns and the state Senate and Assembly have formally opposed the project.
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