January 28, 2014

No. 125: Directing DEC, DOT, DHSES, DOH, and NYSERDA to Strengthen the States Oversight of Shipments of Petroleum Products

TOP No. 125: Directing DEC, DOT, DHSES, DOH, and...
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Directing The Department of Environmental Conservation, The Department of Transportation, The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, The Department of Health, and The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to Take Action to Strengthen the States Oversight of Shipments of Petroleum Products

WHEREAS, on July 6, 2013, a train derailment in Lac-Mgantic, Qubec involving tank cars carrying crude oil caused the devastation of an entire community, the deaths of 47 persons, and the evacuation of thousands; and

 

WHEREAS, on December 30, 2013, a train derailment in Casselton, North Dakota caused 18 tank cars carrying crude oil to be punctured, spilling more than 400,000 gallons of crude oil into the environment, and causing a fire which resulted in the evacuation of more than one thousand Casselton residents; and

 

WHEREAS, rail cars transporting crude oil traverse 1,000 miles of New York States 3,500-mile freight rail network, from Western New York along the Mohawk River and its communities to the Port of Albany, and from Canada across the border at Rouses Point along Lake Champlain and through communities to the Port of Albany, where it is then transported south by rail, ship, and barge on or along the Hudson River and along or through New York communities to refineries in mid-Atlantic states; and

 

WHEREAS, much of the increase in the volume of crude oil transported is due to increased production from the Bakken formation in North Dakota, Montana, and Canada, which, due to lack of pipeline capacity, must be transported by rail; and

 

WHEREAS, historically, rail transport of crude oil is safer and more environmentally protective than truck transport; and

 

WHEREAS, there has been a significant expansion in the use of the Port of Albany in the distribution and transportation of crude oil and other petroleum products by rail, ship, and barge for shipment on and along the Hudson River and along or through our communities to out-of-state refineries and storage facilities; and

 

WHEREAS, the increase in frequency and numbers of rail cars, ships, and barges carrying crude oil and other petroleum products through hundreds of New York communities increases the publics vulnerability to a serious accident; and

 

WHEREAS, New Yorks waterways, including the Hudson River, Mohawk River, and Lake Champlain, on or along which rail cars, ships, and barges travel, are unique ecological, cultural, economic, natural, and recreational resources upon which millions of New Yorkers rely, which makes these waterways especially vulnerable to spills of crude oil and other petroleum products; and

 

WHEREAS, Bakken crude oil has a lower flashpoint and is therefore more prone to ignite during a rail accident; and

 

WHEREAS, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) is in the process of designating new safety standards and requirements for rail tank cars and evaluating potential new rules for the transportation of flammable liquids; and

 

WHEREAS, recognizing the value of these efforts, New York nevertheless cannot await the final outcome of these federal assessments before taking action; and

 

WHEREAS, New York is preempted by federal law from regulating rail freight transportation and rail car safety standards, and the navigation of vessels operating on the States navigable waterways; and

 

WHEREAS, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has jurisdiction over air permitting, oil spill response, and storage of petroleum products in bulk tanks; and

 

WHEREAS, the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) has jurisdiction to inspect freight rail track and equipment; and

 

WHEREAS, the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES) provides assistance and support to local entities relating to emergency planning, training, and response to incidents, including petroleum spills and fires; and

 

WHEREAS, the New York State Department of Health (DOH) assesses and monitors the human exposure and public health impact of petroleum spills and fires, advises on the safe handling of hazardous materials and the cleanup of such materials, and provides public information on health impacts and protective measures; and

 

WHEREAS, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) acts as a central clearinghouse for energy resource information, monitors and regularly reports on liquid fuel supply and market trends, and maintains data on major liquid fuel storage terminals;

 

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor of the State of New York, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the Laws of the State of New York, do hereby direct that:

  1. DEC, DHSES, DOT, and DOH shall promptly petition USDOT, the U.S. Department of Energy (USDOE), the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (USDHS), and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) to upgrade tanker car and rail line safety, assess federal agency needs and risks, and pre-deploy appropriate spill response equipment and resources to protect New York States communities, residents, land, and waterways from accidents involving the transportation of crude oil and other petroleum products by rail, ship, and barge; and
  2. DEC and DHSES, working with DOT, DOH, and NYSERDA, shall, in consultation with USDOT, USDOE, USCG, and USDHS, conduct an assessment of the States spill prevention and response rules and inspection programs governing the transportation of crude oil and other petroleum products by rail, ship, and barge; and
  3. On or about April 30, 2014, DEC and DHSES, with DOT, DOH, and NYSERDA, shall submit to me a consolidated report summarizing the States existing capacity to prevent and respond to accidents involving the transportation of crude oil and other petroleum products by rail, ship, and barge; and
  4. This consolidated report shall include but shall not be limited to: (i) a summary of the States readiness to prevent and respond to rail and water accidents involving petroleum products; (ii) recommendations concerning statutory, regulatory, or administrative changes needed at the State level to better prevent and respond to accidents involving the transportation of crude oil and other petroleum products by rail, ship, and barge; (iii) recommendations concerning the role that local governments across the State have in protecting their communities and their residents from spills of petroleum products shipped by rail and water; and (iv) recommendations concerning enhanced coordination between the State and federal agencies in order to improve the States capacity to prevent and respond to accidents involving the transportation of crude oil and other petroleum products by rail, ship, and barge.

 

G I V E N under my hand and the Privy Seal of the
State in the City of Albany this twenty-
eighth day of January in the year two
thousand fourteen.

 

BY THE GOVERNOR

 

Secretary to the Governor

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