Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Albany County may sue over oil trains

Posted By on Wed, Sep 2, 2015 at 10:32 AM

Albany County is preparing to take legal action against the operator of an oil train terminal in the City of Albany.

The terminal, which is owned and operated by Global Companies and provides access to the Hudson River, has become a major East Coast oil train hub. Hardly any oil passed through the terminal three years ago, compared to 2 billion gallons a year now, most of which originates in the Bakken Shale region, county officials said in a press release. The trains, which are often just over 100 cars long, queue up outside of the facility on tracks that run alongside the Ezra Prentice Homes — a public housing complex. 

The county, which is represented by Earthjustice, has notified Global that it plans to file a federal Clean Air Act lawsuit against Global. County officials and environmental groups allege that Global failed to notify state and federal officials when it started accepting crude oil shipments — a move that led to a substantial increase in volatile organic compound emissions. The emissions have disproportionately affected the residents of the Ezra Prentice Homes, officials say.

“Since 2012, Global has massively increased its emissions of air pollutants from the Albany Terminal without undergoing the stringent review and pollution controls required under the Clean Air Act," said Earthjustice attorney Chris Amato in the press release announcing the action. "Today, we are putting Global on notice that they must comply with the Clean Air Act or face the consequences in federal court.”

The Albany County action could have a ripple effect in Monroe County. As many as 300 rail tanker cars carrying crude oil pass through the county each day, and most are headed for the Albany terminal. Anything that reduces or eliminates the number of oil trains heading to the Albany terminal would likely reduce or eliminate the number of oil trains passing through Monroe County.

Albany County Executive Dan McCoy, who has been a vocal opponent of the oil trains, has also filed a supporting brief in another lawsuit, which argues that the federal government hasn't done enough to regulate the trains, reports Politico New York.

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