Pilgrim Pipeline opponents want DEC to lead review

The pipeline would pass through Saugerties along the Thruway (photo by Will Dendis)

The pipeline would pass through Saugerties along the Thruway (photo by Will Dendis)

After Pilgrim Pipeline filed permits to use the Thruway corridor as a right-of-way last week, opponents of the 178-mile oil pipeline restated their opposition to the project and demanded that the Department of Environmental Conservation lead the review rather than the Thruway Authority.

“These pipelines would directly contradict the energy and climate goals for New York and threaten the health and well-being of our communities,” said Rosendale Town Board member Jennifer Metzger, in a release.


The double pipeline would be build between Albany and Linden, NJ, with 200,000 gallons of crude oil per day moving south and the same volume of refined products north. The route is mostly along the Thruway right-of-way, but includes some private property.

Many local towns and cities have expressed opposition to the project, citing the local dangers of pipeline leaks and wider implications of fracking (the oil bound for the Pilgrim Pipeline originates from the Bakken shale in North Dakota, the same deposits that have increased the volume of oil carried by trains and barges through the Hudson Valley to New Jersey refineries).

Ulster County as well as the towns of Woodstock and New Paltz and city of Kingston have passed resolutions against the pipeline, and the town of Saugerties declared “no confidence” in the project after a canceled public informational meeting. (A company spokesman at the time said public hearings had a tendency to “devolve into shouting matches.”)

Pilgrim says pipelines are a safer and more efficient way of moving oil.

“Fossil fuels are slated to drive our economy for the foreseeable future,” wrote George Bochis, vice president for development at Pilgrim Pipeline Holdings, LLC, in an op-ed in Saugerties Times earlier this year. “America’s growing capacity for energy production means its citizens face a choice about the infrastructure that transports those fuels. By creating a reliable, efficient and state-of-the-art underground pipeline that reduces fuel barge traffic through the region, the Pilgrim Pipeline offers clear benefits to the region.”

Bochis wrote that the pipeline would not increase the amount of oil passing through the region because East Coast refineries are already at capacity.

Pipeline opponents Lanny Walter and Sue Rosenberg asked the Saugerties Town Board on Nov. 18 to support their request that DEC lead the review of the project. They said the board needed to weigh in by Dec. 16.

Relations between the Town Board and Pilgrim don’t seem to have improved since the board’s June “no confidence” vote. Town Supervisor Greg Helsmoortel appeared peeved, complaining that he hadn’t been notified that the company had filed its three-volume draft environmental impact statement before the meeting, even though the press and opponents had been notified.

He was particularly scornful of an assurance by the company contained in a press release saying it wanted to be “as transparent as possible” while inviting “questions and dialogue with government officials and the public.”

“They haven’t been that way thus far,” he said. “They’ve already got a lot of strikes against them. I have very little faith in them at all, if any.”