A company that handles crude oil shipped by tanker trains and Hudson River barges says it's scaling back operations at the Port of Albany.
County Executive Dan McCoy got the official word Tuesday that Massachusetts-based Global Partners opted to withdraw its application to expand operations and build a crude oil heating facility at the port. McCoy held a press conference Wednesday morning in a parking lot near the playground at Ezra Prentice Homes on South Pearl Street in Albany. "And it's been almost four years to the day that I stood here and I signed a moratorium against Global. And the thing about when I signed that moratorium, everyone said to me 'what's a little county like Albany County gonna do against a giant like Global?' Well, I stand here today and I can tell ya, we did a lot, and you can make a difference if you stick to it and you see it through."
Global sued the state Department of Environmental Conservation in 2013 for not issuing the permit, which was opposed by environmental groups and Ezra Prentice residents, who say they live in constant fear of oil spills, odors and the possibility their lives could be disrupted if there was a derailment of nearby freight trains. "We want people that live here to enjoy the quality of life and to be safe. And again, you know when you fight Goliath vs. David, you can win with the right team behind you. And I want to again thank the team and the residents for everything that they did."
Ezra Prentice is a 176-unit public housing complex located in between the Port of Albany and truck routes from the port. The apartments and some 400 residents, including more than 200 children, are a stone's throw from railroad tracks feeding Global Companies' oil operation at the port. Albany Common Councilors Vivian Kornegay and Dorcey Applyrs have been on the front line of the battle against Global for almost five years. Applyrs says she was floored when she first heard Global was backing down on its plans. "After getting over the shock, just elated that residents of the South End have achieved victory to be very proud of."
Earthjustice attorney Chris Amato characterized Global's now-defunct plan as "ill-conceived and racially unjust." "The one person who is missing today and who is missed today is the late Charlene Benton. Charlene was the president of the Ezra Prentice Homes Tenants Association for many years, and it was my great privilege to work with her very closely on this issue. And I'm sure she's up there smiling and giving a fist pump today."
Benton died in 2017. BeBe White is current president of the tenants association. "We've been doing this for about five or six years, trying to get this train to stop bringing the crude through, and the guys they worked hard, and I've been smiling ever since I heard the news, and you know I'm proud."
There may be more work ahead for White, Applyrs, McCoy and company... Reading from a prepared statement, Global spokesperson Liz Fuller says the firm plans to "resubmit a renewal application with modifications later this year. The changes to the permit will include a reduction in the amount of crude oil handled through the terminal and will not include a system for the heating of crude oil."