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DEC review of plan for boilers at Port of Albany inadequate

Saturday, February 22, 2014
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DEC review of plan for boilers at Port of Albany inadequate

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) held a community meeting at the Giffen Elementary School in Albany on Feb. 12 about a proposal by Global Companies LLC to install seven boilers at the Port of Albany to heat oil arriving via rail so it can more easily be pumped on to ships to be sent to refineries[Feb. 13 Gazette].

Hundreds attended, 63 spoke during the public portion of the meeting, and at least 10 departed before their names were called.

Many speakers complained that neither DEC nor Global Companies has yet answered the most basic questions they have posed including where all does the oil originate. Residents are concerned the oil contains explosive gasses and is or will be coming from the Alberta Tar Sands — some of the dirtiest oil on the planet.

At the meeting, two DEC representatives, including a deputy commissioner, said the DEC is conducting a “comprehensive review” of the Global Companies application. This is not correct. Last November the DEC issued a “negative declaration,” which means DEC had determined the project would not have a major impact on the environment and thus the applicant would not have to produce an environmental impact statement (EIS). A negative declaration greatly speeds the review process. An EIS includes a “scoping” process at which the public can identify any issues we think must be included in the EIS. DEC did not explain how it can conduct a comprehensive review without an EIS.

In late January, Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered four state agencies to report back to him by the end of April on the state’s preparedness to respond to a rail, ship, or barge crude oil spill or a resulting fire. However, the negative declaration remained in place as of Feb. 18.

A comprehensive review must include an airing of all the issues including transportation of the oil through the region into and out of the port. Some speakers at the meeting live in the South End of Albany within 100 feet of the oil trains. They are terrified about the huge and soaring volumes of gassy oil now passing through the port and aware (1) that most of the rail cars are not up to the latest standards; (2) of an oil train derailment and explosions in Quebec last June that destroyed a downtown and incinerated 47 people; (3) rail companies successfully resist safety upgrades; and (4) rail accidents are all too frequent.

At least 10 speakers demanded that DEC rescind the negative declaration, replace it with a positive declaration, and begin the formal EIS process.

Tom Ellis

Albany

Cuomo’s college for prisoners a lousy idea

Come on, what is Cuomo thinking of [Feb. 20 Gazette]? Wanting to give free education to the illegals and legalizing pot and now free college education to inmates.

Hello, Mr. Cuomo, if your going to give free education to anyone, it should be to our kids that are struggling to pay for the high cost of college. Why are you patronizing the inmates?

Most of them are back in jail after serving their sentence. They have enough luxuries as it is now. How do you plan on paying for this? I thought you were trying to lower the budget. Why are the Democrats trying to bleed the middle-class taxpayers? What about the kids in school? Isn’t their education more important?

Every time [Sen. Charles] Schumer or other senators talk, all I hear is more money.

James Maxfield

Scotia

*

Regarding New York state giving inmates a free college education: Gov. Cuomo, you should be ashamed of yourself [Feb. 20 Gazette]! Three square meals a day, cable TV, free around-the-clock health care at taxpayers’ expense isn’t enough?

What a slap in the face to every hard-working college student, parent and high school senior who is struggling to come up with a legal way to pay for college!

Perhaps now I will encourage my straight-A, law-abiding, [high school] senior to commit a crime so he, too, can receive a free college degree. As things stand, it may be the only way to afford it.

Gianna Smith

Rotterdam

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