Though we appreciate Mr. Bochis taking the time to write to our humble small town newspaper, we find it interesting that it takes the vice president of the Pilgrim Pipeline to come up with the talking points needed to defend their position to the people of our town.
The threat of Mr. Bochis’s Pilgrim Pipeline has in fact created a unique situation in our town: It is uniting our community across political party lines. It warms my heart to see such a diverse group of neighbors coming out against it .
It seems that Mr. Bochis is having us choose between the lesser of the evils of crude oil transport by saying that the pipeline is the safest way to go. Statistics seem to show that a failure/spill/leak rate of one pipeline accident every other day is not a very good track record, a fact that he would have trouble refuting. Mr. Bochis could blame all the accidents on aging infrastructure and say that a spanking new pipeline with tight welds and a robot named Harry that runs thru it every day, is the future. But how about 20 years from now? When the company has merged, disbanded, gone belly up and come back with a new corporate identity, who will be responsible in the future?
And heaven forbid there is ever an earthquake, and what about where it will run under the waterways in our communities, where erratic flooding and ice jams could remold the land around the pipeline (as might have happened a couple of weeks ago in the oil pipeline that spilled 50,000 gallons of crude oil into the Yellowstone River of Montana)? Who will be held responsible? The risks seem too great.
The highly explosive oil that Mr. Bochis’s Pilgrim Pipeline is planning to transport is fracked in the Bakken shale region of North Dakota, contrary to what one of their representatives said in a public information session in New Jersey recently (how a Pilgrim Pipeline representative wouldn’t know that is perplexing). The methane burned off from the Bakken shale fields can be seen from space, no doubt adding to our climate change problem. The millions of gallons of toxic chemicals that are being pumped underground in order to extract this precious oil is also in someone’s backyard. Fracking is an extractive process that has been deemed a potential risk to people’s health by the Health Department of New York State. By approving the Pilgrim Pipeline, wouldn’t we be putting other Americans at risk?
What about our grandchildren’s future? Mr. Bochis’s pipeline would in fact be creating a death sentence for future generations. It would perpetuate the old polluting way of powering our country. We need to redirect our resources and American know-how to less damaging means of creating and conserving energy. If it is in fact true that in order to avoid catastrophic climate change, we need to leave at least two-thirds of our fossil fuels in the ground, it seems crazy to be wasting time and money on constructing this pipeline infrastructure, especially when most towns are lining up against it.
We need to be moving our country to safer, more sustainable localized energy systems. Yes, most of us drive cars and heat our homes with fossil fuels but if we had the choice and supportive policies were in place, I think all of us would choose to have solar panels on our roofs and a solar electric car in the driveway.
Coalition Against Pilgrim Pipeline
The opinion piece written by an executive of Pilgrim Pipeline Company in last week’s paper exemplifies a switch in public relations tactics taken by the oil/gas industry in 2013 to counteract growing local opposition. Intra-industry memos recommended changing the hopeless goal of denying the harms of the extraction, transportaton, and use of their product to an emphasis on its local benefits, even if they are questionable at best.
Will this pipeline, slated to border the New York Thruway from Albany to NJ, really have an impact on local rail and barge crude oil traffic, causing less bomb trains through our towns? The pipeline would transport 140 million barrels per year, which amounts to well under half of what was transported in 2013 by rail alone. The global oil market drives contracts from U.S. refineries which are in New Jersey, not North Dakota. The volume of crude oil transported south through New York will continue to grow.
Also, the oil/gas industry is lobbying this big business-friendly Congress to lift a present ban on direct crude oil export to Asia, Europe, the world. Enormous profits for oil/gas giants mean enormous risk for us in the Hudson Valley. Do not add those of pipelines to the trains and barges. In fact, it’s all risk for us (and our climate), all gain for them.
“Another Day, Another Pipeline Explosion” was the title of segment from a Jan. 27 edition of The Rachel Maddow Show. She pointed out five pipeline accidents that have occurred in the past month — a crude oil spill in Montana, two in North Dakota, and natural gas explosions in two separate pipelines in West Virginia and Mississippi. This, all in just one month! And on top of it, some of these accidents were with brand-new pipelines, not just old ones. Why do we even want to consider subjecting ourselves to the horrific can of worms that the Pilgrim Pipeline would open?
Residents near the spill in Montana describe their water as smelling like diesel, and in some cases the odor has permeated their entire homes. According to CNN, “Montana Governor Steve Bullock announced a state of emergency for Dawson and Richland counties. And while officials wait for results from water sample testing, they’re advising residents to use bottled water for drinking and cooking.” Do you want your home to be in a designated state of emergency? How will you feel when after showering you smell like the parking lot of an interstate truck stop? The Guardian reports that benzine- “a cancer-causing component of oil has been detected in the drinking water, and that the advisory to not drink wasn’t announced until 2 days after the spill.” Think about that. We can do better.
Ulster County is poised to be a forerunner in the transition to renewable energy. There are as many as 15 different sources of renewable energy today, many of which are realistically within our reach. Just as the gas, coal, and oil industries built expansive infrastructures, renewable energy is building theirs with support of grants, government-sponsored programs, elected officials and citizens. Thousands of jobs will be created in the process. Let’s cast aside what no longer serves us. It’s never too late to turn our backs on the fossil fuel industry. Now is as good a time as any!