Calls for Moratorium on Oil Shipment by Rail and No Tar Sands Oil in New York
Howie Hawkins said today that he endorsed the protest by PAUSE, Green Party of NY and others at the Governor's mansion in opposition to the oil bomb trains in NY, especially in the South End of Albany.
Hawkins, the Green Party nominee for Governor, said oil trains in New York are a rolling environmental injustice. "Their route takes within a few feet of a public housing complex in Albany as well as near Native lands. Why has Cuomo and the DEC violated its own guidelines for environmental justice assessments when it comes to oil processing and shipping?"
Hawkins said as Governor that he would issue an Executive Order halting all transport of crude oil by rail in the state and would use law enforcement if necessary to carry out this order. Safe transport of crude oil through populated areas is not possible. The National Transportation Safety Board has recommended that the Federal Railroad Administration require railroads to "avoid populated and other sensitive areas" for crude oil and other hazardous materials. Yet in Albany they pass a few feet from residents in housing projects in the South End.
Hawkins has previously said that as Governor he would Order the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to rescind the negative declaration allowing Global Partners to enormously expand shipments of highly volatile and explosive crude oil from the Bakken in North Dakota.
Hawkins said that New York State residents have a right to know about the details of shipments here in New York. The federal government has denied public access to such information on the grounds of homeland security due to the threats posed by possible explosions of the oil train cars. Yet federal regulators have few safeguards in place to protect communities and the environment from accidents, spills and explosions resulting from the race to move millions of barrels of crude by rail.
Hawkins, the Green nominee for Governor, has previously called for a moratorium on oil shipments by rail until all safety concerns are addressed and remedied. Each oil train car carries the equivalent of 2 million sticks of dynamite.
Hawkins wants New York to go to 100% clean renewable energy by 2030, a goal deemed feasible for New York in a recent peer-reviewed study by Cornell and Stanford scientists, engineers, and economists. Hawkins for more than 4 years has been calling for a ban on hydrofracking for natural gas. Rather than wasting funds developing more fossil fuels and expanding its infrastructure, Hawkins wants to invest in wind, solar, energy conservation and efficiency, and other renewable resources.
There has been a 400% increase in oil shipments by rail since 2005. Much of this oil comes from the Bakken Shale in North Dakota and traverses upstate New York. A considerable portion is offloaded at the Port of Albany (located in the mostly African-American South End) onto ships and barges for the trip down the Hudson to refineries in Philadelphia and Canada.
Railroad workers, too, are concerned about the dangers of the giant oil trains. "One hundred car trains are simply too long. They place incredible strain on tracks and locomotives, surely factors in the recent derailments," said Jon Flanders in a prior statement released by the Hawkins campaign. Flanders is a retired locomotive mechanic and labor activist Jon Flanders, who is heading up Labor for Hawkins.
Most of the rail tank cars used to carry crude oil are old "DOT-111s," widely known to be unsafe. NRDC points out that in April 2014, outgoing National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) chairwoman Deborah Hersman confirmed that unmodified DOT-111 tank cars – non-pressurized rail tank cars that accident investigators report are easily punctured or ruptured during a derailment – are not safe to carry hazardous liquids.
"Safer oil cars vs. building more pipelines is a false choice which limits our attention to the business as usual energy solutions of the past. In the 21st century we must stop building more fossil fuel infrastructure like fracking, pipelines, and tar sands boilers. Every dollar invested in fossil fuel infrastructure locks us into decades more fossil fuel dependence and diverts us from urgently needed investment in clean energy," said Hawkins.