Blocking the Fossil Fuel Invasion in New York State

We’ve seen this time and again: pipelines leak and tankers run aground. At a time when the federal government is doing everything in its power to permit fossil fuel infrastructure, we have a rare opportunity in New York State to say “No!” 

Coalition Against Pilgrim Pipelines-NY in front of Ulster County Courthouse, Kingston, NY

Jodiah Jacobs

NRDC and its allies are fighting fossil fuel projects across the Northeast. If given the go-ahead, these projects could contaminate our water, add greenhouse gases to our atmosphere, and move us away from a clean energy future.

Luckily, two of the projects we are fighting can be stopped if the New York State Legislature acts. 

  • The first is the proposed Pilgrim Pipelines, which would transport oil from Albany to Linden, New Jersey. 
  • And the second is the  the Hudson barges, which could be used to store crude oil on the Hudson River.

Two bills are currently moving their way through the state legislature that would protect New York from a potential fossil fuel invasion.

The first bill, S.5139/A.2446A—sponsored by Assemblyman Frank Skartados and Senator George Amedore, Jr.—would amend the 100 year old Transportation Corporations Law to include towns on the list of municipalities that have the power to approve or reject the construction of oil pipelines that pass through their borders. Currently, only villages and cities have this power, and it is unclear why towns were originally excluded from this list. Communities of all sizes should be able to determine whether oil pipelines like Pilgrim should be built within their territory. As we have explained previously, oil pipelines threaten drinking water and the health of citizens, in addition to contributing to climate change.

Oil spill in Mayflower, Arkansas in 2013

Remember Mayflower

The second bill, S.5197/A.6825—sponsored by Assemblywoman Didi Barrett and Senator Sue Serino—give the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) the power to establish “Tanker Avoidance Zones” near sensitive aquatic habitats and waterfront communities. This bill is especially important in light of the United States Coast Guard’s announcement that it was reviewing a proposal to expand the number of barge anchorages in the Hudson River. The proposal could dramatically increase fossil fuel transport on the river, and has already received broad opposition from communities across the state. If signed into law, the bill would allow DEC to proactively protect against the siting of barge anchorages, protecting our riverfront communities from the dangers of an oil spill.

When it comes to fossil fuels, accidents are inevitable. These bills are important pieces of the puzzle in ensuring that states and municipalities have the power to protect their citizens. If you live in New York State, call your state senator and Assemblymember to show your support for of these important bills. 

About the Authors

Rob Friedman

Policy Advocate, Environmental Justice & New York Programs

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