Bakken crude oil

WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

Lawmakers in Albany County have passed legislation that penalizes operators of local crude oil storage and transfer facilities that fail to report spills in a timely manner.

WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

As politicians scramble to expedite laws addressing crude oil transport by rail, citizens gathered in Albany today to demand the trains be banned from rolling on New York tracks.

Composite Image by Dave Lucas (WAMC)

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer launched his push to increase the number of federal railroad bridge safety specialists nationwide today. It’s the latest chapter in what has become a months-long effort to cut down on the dangers of shipping oil.

Schumer revealed that there are currently just seven specialists overseeing audits for the Federal Railroad Administration. Less than 1 percent of the 70,000 to 100,000 privately-owned train bridges nationwide are audited in any given year. It would take 100 years, at that rate, to audit all of the bridges.


With another oil train crash making headlines, activists in Albany are heading over to city hall this evening to demand something be done about the tankers that pass through some of downtown Albany's most densely populated areas.

Activists, politicians and private citizens are reacting to the latest in a series of oil train mishaps: a firey derailment February 16th in West Virginia of a train hauling 3 million gallons of crude oil that destroyed a home, endangered a Kanawha River tributary, and affected two water treatment plants downstream.

Developments with the Keystone XL pipeline and other proposed oil pipelines throughout the country have dominated headlines recently, and there has been a lot of concern among citizens of our region around the impact crude oil transport can have. We’ve brought in two environmental advocates from Riverkeeper today to have a discussion. 

Two agencies are now involved in updating oil-spill response plans for the Hudson River — and examining potential effects on endangered species. One conservation group is taking credit for the action after threatening a lawsuit if such plans were not put in place. One of the agencies says possible litigation had nothing to do with it.

Pipeline Opponents To Demonstrate In New Paltz

Dec 2, 2014
Pilgrim Holdings, LLC

Opponents of the proposed Pilgrim Pipeline will gather for a demonstration in Ulster County Tuesday afternoon.

WAMC/Pat Bradley

A bill that would support the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline passed in the U.S. House of Representatives this week failed to clear the Senate by one vote.

The controversial Keystone XL pipeline was passed just last week for the ninth time by the Republican-led House of Representatives. This week, before the Democrat-controlled lame duck Senate, the measure failed by a single vote, 59-41. 

The pipeline would carry crude oil from Canada south through the United States to be refined and shipped overseas from the Gulf Coast.

WAMC composite image by Dave Lucas

Even after recent tests came back negative, a coalition of environmental groups says oil trains are making people in Albany sick — and they're asking state regulators to investigate.

In the spring, government officials and residents of Albany's South End neighborhoods expressed concern about potential impacts related to crude oil transport and facilities in the area.

People living near the Port of Albany and the rail lines carrying the oil trains say they experienced health problems they believe to be associated with oil and diesel emissions.


There have been several developments this week impacting oil trains, the subject of national and local debate.

The U.S. Department of Transportation on Wednesday issued new proposed rules on tankers transporting oil including quickly phasing out the use of old DOT-111 rail cars for moving crude oil and other hazardous liquids. The rules would include new operational requirements to lower operating speeds and enhance braking capabilities for high-hazard flammable trains.