Rosendale and New Paltz oppose Pilgrim Pipelines

Perrine’s Bridge in Rifton. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

Perrine’s Bridge in Rifton. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

The route of the proposed Pilgrim Pipelines is “planned to go right under Perrine’s Bridge, which is the second-oldest pedestrian bridge in the state,” according to Rosendale councilwoman Jen Metzger. As the town government’s official liaison on the project as well as an organizer of the activist group Citizens for Local Power, Metzger made the announcement during a discussion at the January 13 town-board meeting about the latest actions taken by communities situated along the pipeline corridor.

In other news, the New Paltz town board unanimously voted last Tuesday evening, January 12, to approve and send via certified mail to the DEC commissioner and other involved agencies a letter asking that acting commissioner Basil Seggos resolve the dispute about lead agency for the SEQRA review of the proposed controversial Pilgrim pipelines project, by removing the Thruway Authority from its proposed role as co-lead agency. Numerous other jurisdictions at county, city, town and village levels have done the same thing.

On January 11, Cornwall also had unanimously voted to approve and send a letter requesting the same action of the DEC Commissioner: to remove the Thruway Authority, which stands to benefit financially if it were to allow the Pilgrim pipelines to use Thruway right-of-way for its private petroleum pipelines, from its proposed role as “co-lead” agency.


Both Cornwall and New Paltz were able to take their actions because they both previously offered to act as lead agency themselves. Each town is in the direct path of the proposed oil and refined products pipelines’ route.

At the Rosendale meeting, town supervisor Jeanne Walsh reported that an updated copy of the project’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) shows “for the first time really close-up mapping” of the pipeline route. Although the pipeline is envisioned as mostly paralleling the New York State Thruway, “In Rosendale it veers off the right-of-way considerably,” Walsh said. Perrine’s Bridge spans the Wallkill River a few hundred feet to the east of where the Thruway crosses that waterway.

Built in 1835 to connect Main Street (Route 213) in the hamlet of Rifton with the hamlet of Tillson, the one-lane Burr truss-style wooden covered bridge is 138 feet long, 20 feet wide and clears the surface of the Wallkill by eleven feet. The gently sloping riverbank alongside its southern abutment is a popular put-in spot for kayakers and canoeists. Perrine’s Bridge has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places since 1973.

Because of its historic status, potential impacts on the bridge by the pipeline project “should be covered by SHPO,” the evaluation required by the New York State Historic Preservation Office, noted councilman Chris Pryslopski. However, said Walsh, “I haven’t seen anything yet about any historical society as an involved agency.”

Review of the Pilgrim Pipelines proposal will not get under way until a lead agency is officially designated. Rosendale is one of a number of towns along the route currently petitioning the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to be the sole lead agency, rather than allowing the New York State Thruway Authority to be co-lead.

“The next step is the scoping process, where they decide what impacts have to be evaluated. There will be public hearings – at least one,” said Metzger, noting that citizen input would be “very important” at that stage.

The City of Albany also drafted a proclamation last week urging the same action of DEC, signed by 26 members of its Common Council. Kingston and Rosendale already took action in this “second round” of 30 days of resistance to Thruway Authority involvement in the lead agency role.

According to some of its opponents, the proposed pipelines would threaten drinking water for millions of people, as well as harming climate, air quality, streams and wetlands, and bringing more oil bomb trains into Albany to service the proposed pipelines. With the lifting of the oil export ban, the pipelines could service New Jersey or other ports with export facilities, instead of or in addition to the Bayway refinery in New Jersey, which opponents say does not want and could not use anything close to all of the crude oil Pilgrim might be shipping south from Albany.