ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Environmental groups and a northern New Jersey homeowners' coalition raised objections on Tuesday to a planned billion-dollar pipeline that would carry North Dakota crude oil from a train terminal at the Port of Albany to coastal refineries and return gasoline, diesel, heating oil and other petroleum products to upstate New York.
Pilgrim Pipeline Holdings, based in Canton, Connecticut, says a pipeline would be safer and more "environmentally friendly" than current rail and river barge oil shipments. But opponents including the Sierra Club and 37 other organizations said Tuesday that the pipeline from Albany to Linden, New Jersey, would expose a densely populated and environmentally sensitive region to the risks of accidents and devastating spills.
The groups are calling on New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, to oppose the project, which requires various state permits.
Pilgrim spokesman Paul Nathanson said details of the 178-mile pipeline are in the planning stages and no applications have been filed.
"We are disappointed that these groups are opposing the project without meeting with us," Pilgrim's vice president of development, George Bochis, said by email Tuesday. "The pipeline would in no way increase the amount of oil and refined products currently transported between Linden and Albany."
Instead, he said, the pipeline would remove 1,000 barges from the Hudson River, and "the spill risk for barges is almost seven times greater than that of pipelines."
The Port of Albany has become a major hub for shipment of crude oil from North Dakota's Bakken Shale region to coastal refineries, with crude arriving by train and transferred to Hudson River barges and tanker ships or continuing by rail southward. A series of devastating oil train accidents, including one that killed 47 people last year in Quebec, has raised safety concerns.
Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, said routing a pipeline through the New Jersey Highlands and the Catskills region that supplies drinking water to millions of people is "an ecological disaster waiting to happen."
"Whether you ship the oil by rail, barge or pipeline it is still dangerous to the region," Tittel said.
Ken Dolsky, representing the Already Devalued and Devastated Homeowners of Parsippany, New Jersey, said the pipeline would further reduce property values in an area already impacted by a major power line and a natural gas pipeline.