Coalition Formed To Oppose Pipeline Plan

May 20, 2014

Pilgrim Pipeline 3D Map
Credit Pilgrim Holdings, LLC

Thirty-eight organizations in New York and New Jersey are asking the governors to join them in opposing a proposed pipeline that would carry crude oil from the Port of Albany to refineries in New Jersey.

There are no formal plans yet, but environmental and grassroots groups say they want to be ahead of the game as Pilgrim Pipeline Holdings ramps up proposals for an East Coast oil pipeline. The concept is to allow the transport of oil from the Port of Albany to the Phillips 66 refinery in Linden, New Jersey. A coalition of groups from New York and New Jersey opposed to the project held a conference call Tuesday.   

New Jersey Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel calls the Pilgrim Pipeline unnecessary and says it threatens the region’s environment and water supply.  “We believe that this oil is dangerous no matter how you ship it. This pipeline cutting through the most densely populated region of the country and going past many of the most important environmentally sensitive areas, this doesn’t mean rail’s going to end, it just means we’re going to have more and more of it. We’re going to become awash in it.”

Riverkeeper Watershed Program Manager Kate Hudson says the pipeline company approached the group seeking its support.  “We are very concerned that Pilgrim is a company that has never owned or operated a pipeline before. It seems to be a relatively small and under-capitalized company. This pipeline will pass a number of significant tributaries to the Hudson River watershed. It would also require crossing the Catskill and Delaware aqueducts, which supply New York City drinking water. Given these risks, we are opposed to this pipeline project moving forward.”

The Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter is based in Albany. Conservation Director Roger Downs explains the plans as known would place the pipeline within the Thruway corridor from Albany with connections to the Port of Albany and the Selkirk rail yard to the I-287 beltway terminating at Linden.  “Pilgrim Pipeline Holdings has introduced a narrative that this pipeline will supplant other problematic forms of crude oil transport, namely barges on the Hudson River and rail. But there is no guarantee that the pipeline itself will not just augment capacity moving even more Bakken crude through New York without alleviating river or rail traffic. There’s also no guarantee that crude by pipeline is a safer alternative.”

The project is in its initial phase of development with the company conducting the feasibility of a route between Albany and Linden. Pilgrim Pipeline Holdings Vice President of Development George Bochis  says two pipelines — one 18 inches, and the other 16 inches in diameter buried below the frostline — would meet market needs. Bochis says it’s safer and should reduce the amount of barge and rail transport of oil.  “By building our pipeline we’re not going to create a doubling of the demand for refined products in the Hudson River valley. We’re going to find a more efficient and safer way to transport it. We’re not creating a demand. We’re just getting it there safer, faster, and more efficiently. The argument that somehow that doesn’t take a barge trip off the river, I don’t understand that.”

Pilgrim Pipeline plans to submit applications to the appropriate state agencies sometime this summer to begin the permitting process.