New Pipeline Proposal Draws Ire of Environmentalists in NJ and NY
Project developer Pilgrim Pipeline says 178-mile underground pipe safer than shipping petroleum projects down Hudson River
Yet another pipeline proposal is mobilizing environmental organizations to oppose the measure -- a project that would move crude oil and other refined products between Albany, NY, and Linden, NJ.
A coalition of more than three-dozen environmental groups said they are calling on New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to block the undertaking, which would require a series of environmental permits from both states to move forward.
Pilgrim Pipeline Holding LLC -- the developer of the 178-mile-project -- argued that an underground pipeline largely located along existing rights-of-ways would be a vast safety improvement over shipping petroleum products down the Hudson River to refineries in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, as is done now.
Pilgrim has yet to file any plan with regulators, nor detail precisely what areas the pipeline would traverse.
The construction of new energy pipelines has emerged as an increasingly contentious issue in New Jersey, largely sparked by opposition to natural gas pipelines aimed at transporting the fuel to the metropolitan area from neighboring state such as Pennsylvania, where new deposits of gas have been found and are being exploited.
The pipeline, according to the environmental groups, would transport shale oil from deposits in North Dakota.
The newest proposal by Pilgrim echoed previous concerns raised by environmentalists, particularly by threats to drinking water when the pipeline crosses tributaries and rivers.
“Whether you ship by rail, barge, or pipeline, it is still dangerous to the region,’’ said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “It is unnecessary, dangerous, and threatens our environment -- particularly in New Jersey (where it could) affect our water supply. It’s a disaster waiting to happen.’’
Jim Walsh, regional director of Food and Water Watch, agreed. “This pipeline is just another piece of dangerous infrastructure that the oil and gas industry is pushing through our communities, which will threaten the health and safety of countless New Jersey families.’’
In a statement, Pilgrim Pipeline took issue with many of the comments made by the environmentalists.
“We are therefore surprised that these groups prefer the status quo when this project could provide a safer, more environmentally friendly and efficient means to transport these products than the region's current dependence on river barges,’’ said George Bochis, vice president of development for Pilgrim.
The spill risk for barges is almost seven times greater than that of pipelines, according to Bochis. If the project is approved, Pilgrim Pipeline will remove 1,000 barges off the river each year, he said.
But Kate Hudson, watershed program director for Riverkeeper Inc., an environmental watchdog group, argued that there is nothing in the Pilgrim proposal that would preclude oil from being shipped by barges down the Hudson River.