A lawsuit to shut down a Hudson River link bringing Bakken Formation crude oil from Albany, N.Y., to a New Jersey refinery has been filed in federal court by nine environmental and community groups, who contend the rail-to-barge operation fails to control air pollution associated with North Dakota crude.
Headed by the environmental law group Earthjustice, the court action aims to derail a 2012 permit granted by New York state officials that allowed Global Partners LP, Waltham, Mass., to quadruple shipments through its Albany facility to up to 1.8 billion bbl. annually.
The leading complaint is emissions from handling North Dakota crude, with its higher content of volatile compounds, affects air quality around the Ezra Prentice Homes, low-income apartments near the Albany terminal. The neighborhood has already been designated by New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation as being subject to adverse environmental impact.
But the action is part of a larger movement to block the transport of Bakken crude to Atlantic coast refineries and export. Global Partners moves the oil from Albany south on the Hudson to the Bayway Refinery now operated by Phillips 66 in Linden, N.J., with its own terminal on the Arthur Kill, the westernmost channel of the New York-New Jersey harbor complex.
Some oil moves south by CSX rail to New Jersey, where activist groups and municipal officials have been raising alarms over the potential for derailment accidents like the July 2014 Lac-Megantic disaster in Quebec that killed 47 people.
Global Partners insists it is in compliance with all regulatory requirements and will fight the lawsuit. The Hudson River has long been a critical link for supplying refined petroleum products – New York’s North Country relies on it for winter home heating fuel – but southbound barge transport of crude is still a new game.