Pilgrim Pipeline application moves forward, but resistance building

Around 80 percent of the proposed Pilgrim Pipeline would run along the state Thruway's right-of-way corridor. (Photo: Will Dendis)

Around 80 percent of the proposed Pilgrim Pipeline would run along the state Thruway’s right-of-way corridor. (Photo: Will Dendis)

After Pilgrim Pipeline filed applications for permits to use the Thruway corridor as a right-of-way last week, opponents of the 178-mile crude oil/refined petroleum products pipeline restated their opposition to the project and demanded that the state Department of Environmental Conservation lead the environmental 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 built between Albany and Linden, N.J., 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 the 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 our sister paper, 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.

Lack of transparency?

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 Saugerties 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.”

Last week, KingstonCitizens.org, the local activist group that led the successful opposition to the Niagara Bottling proposal, last week asked its members to consider whether the group will ask the Kingston Common Council to advocate the DEC taking “lead agency” status in the environmental review.