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NYSNYS NEWS: Oil train opponents rally outside Encon HQ, urging agency to reject a proposal to ship Canadian tar sand oil through NYS.
Tar Sands Protest: From left, Mark Schaeffer of, Diana Wright of People of Albany United for Safe Energy (PAUSE), and former Encon counsel Susan Weber at Tuesday’s oll train press event.

NYSNYS NEWS: Oil train opponents rally outside Encon HQ, urging agency to reject a proposal to ship Canadian tar
sand oil through NYS.

By Kyle Hughes

ALBANY, N.Y. (June 7) -- Oil train opponents rallied outside Department of Environmental Conservation offices Tuesday, calling on regulators reject a plan to bring Canadian tar sand oil here on rail lines that run through upstate towns and cities and along the Hudson River.

"It would be almost impossible to clean up if it leaked into the Hudson," said Mark Schaeffer, with and Citizen Action. "It's 'dilbit,' diluted bitumen which is not even a liquid at ordinary temperatures. That's why they need to heat it, so it can flow enough to load it on barges. Tar sands is a very, very low grade fossil fuel."

In the event of an accident involving trains or barges, the oil would sink to the bottom of the river, making cleanup very difficult, he said.

The rail lines run north and south along the Hudson and on the west side of Lake Champlain, as well as east and west through the Mohawk Valley and western New York. Trains offload the oil to large ships docked at the Port, then head down the Hudson River, with billions of gallons of crude oil moving through the Port annually.

At a press conference outside Encon offices here, advocates said the state has to respond to an application from Global Partners LP to build a oil heating and off-loading facility at the Port. With the rapid expansion of unconventional extraction of oil, the Port of Albany has become a major transshipment locations for crude oil from the western U.S. and Canada to east coast refineries.

Approval of the application would result in more oil trains coming into New York, advocates said. A spokesman for Encon said that there was no date set for a final decision; Global Partners had no comment on Tuesday's press conference.

The surge in shipments have raised fears of the potential for a catastrophic spill or accident that could result in major pollution or a fire and explosion. Beyond that, a new Global facility would increase air pollution in the region, advocates claim.

Tuesday, they credited Gov. Andrew Cuomo for the ban on fracking for gas, and said this was the next environmental challenge before him.

"He talks a good game, I think he has to pony up," said Susan Weber, a retired Encon legislative counsel who worked for Gov. Mario Cuomo. "Things like this tar sands heating facility that Global wants have to be stopped and he's got to take every opportunity to push safe, sane fuel infrastructure in the state of New York."

"He knows what he has to do, he just has to do it."

The dilbit oil that would come into the Port of Albany if the project moves forward is the same product that was proposed for the Keystone XL running from Canada to Nebraska. President Obama rejected the project last fall after years of review and growing protests from environmental groups that oppose new fossil fuel infrastructure improvements.