Senator Elizabeth Little
Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12247
Dear Senator Little,
We are residents of the Town of Westport and neighboring towns who are concerned that railroads are not currently required to provide “evidence of financial responsibility” in the event of an oil spill. Our concern is prompted by the increased oil train traffic through our town and other towns along the CP Rail line. The environment, our homes and our lives are at risk. It is simple statistics that more trains mean more chances of an accident.
What if the unthinkable happens in your district, as it has happened in other places – a derailment and massive amounts of oil pollute the environment or explode and burn, destroying property, causing injuries or fatalities? The CP Rail line hugs Lake Champlain, runs alongside the Boquet River, goes through the City of Plattsburgh and many hamlets including Westport. Will the railroads be able to pay for the cost of cleanup and pay compensation for damages?
New York law requires shippers of hazardous material going by water to present proof that they can cover the liability of an accident. The railroads are not held to the same requirement.
The New York State Assembly has passed bills three years in a row to extend this same liability coverage requirement to include railroads. This bill, S. 1515, was reintroduced on January 10, 2017. However, the New York State Senate Environmental Conservation Committee has never held hearings or let this proposed legislation out of committee.
As a member of this committee, you are in a position to help us. You can help us by urging other members of the committee and Chairman O’Mara to hold hearings, support this legislation, and move this legislation forward in the next step of the legislative process. Doing so would close a gap in the law by requiring the railroads, in the event that they are liable for damages caused by an accident involving transportation of crude oil, to have the means to pay for those damages. Moreover, this greater protection would be good for the environment and the communities and residents of your district.
Thank you for your consideration of our request.