Riverkeeper: With very little public awareness and no study of environmental impacts, the oil industry has made the Hudson Valley into one arm of a dangerous “virtual pipeline” for crude oil that snakes thousands of miles by rail, barge and ship from oil fields in North Dakota, Canada and elsewhere, to refineries on both coasts.
The New York State segment of this “virtual pipeline” primarily moves a particularly volatile crude oil by rail from the Bakken shale formation of North Dakota and nearby states and provinces, where oil production has doubled in three years, to the Port of Albany. There, billions of gallons of crude oil can be offloaded onto barges and ships destined for East Coast refineries. Additional trains loaded with crude oil destined for refineries to the south continue along the west side of the Hudson River, through communities in Greene, Ulster, Orange and Rockland counties. Some of these trains carry Canadian tar sands crude bitumen, and there are proposals that would facilitate the shipment of heavy crudes like this by barge as well.
The potential human and environmental impacts of this “virtual pipeline” are anything but virtual. The Hudson River, its tributaries and every community along the river or the freight rail line are at risk from spills and fires. Read more.