Last month, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo received a letter from a coalition asking for the state to take action against the storage of railcars in the Adirondacks. This week, he announced that New York State is taking legal action as part of the 2018 State of the State. Get a brief recap of how empty tanker cars found their way to the Adirondacks and find out what action the State is taking against the storage:
Recap Of The Storage Plan
Back in September, Saratoga & North Creek Railway announced its plan to store empty tanker cars on an unused section of rail called the Tahawus Branch. Iowa Pacific Holdings, SNRC’s parent company, is not generating enough revenue to maintain their railroad tracks around the country and seeks to bring in more through storage plans like this. Residents, environmental groups, and local governments have been very vocal about their opposition since the plan was announced.
Tanker cars began arriving for storage in early October. The DEC currently estimates that 75 tanker cars are being stored on the tracks. The plan states that up to 2,000 railcars will be stored on the line.
In a press release on December 19th, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the 8th proposal to the 2018 State of the State: “New York Will Take Action to Stop Railcar Storage in the Adirondack Park”. The proposal includes current measures being taken by the state to put a stop to this storage plan.
The DEC has filed a petition with the Federal Surface Transportation Board who oversees rail service matters. The state has also filed an application for ‘adverse abandonment’ which would declare the land abandoned by the railroad. The DEC’s petition seeks waivers and exemptions that will help support the state’s application.
Governor Cuomo stated in the press release, “New York is prepared to exhaust all legal options to end this practice once and for all, and to help ensure the natural resources of the North Country are protected from blight and from harm.”
The DEC has also sent a cease and desist letter to Iowa Pacific Holdings. In the letter, the Department demands that the company remove cars already in storage and stop accepting shipments until a decision is made.
In the letter, the DEC states, “The Department’s initial support for a freight line on the Tahawus Branch through the Forest Preserve was intended to provide an environmentally sound alternative to truck traffic, foster economic development, as well as recreational opportunities for snowmobile use. DEC never intended, nor agreed, that Iowa Pacific should turn this corridor in the pristine, forever wild wilderness of the Adirondack Park into a commercial disposal site.”
The state has also called on Union Tank Car Company’s parent organization, Berkshire Hathaway, to stop this plan.
Now we wait. The STB will need to review the application and petition before deciding to designate the rail as abandoned. In the meantime, SNRC has no obligation to stop using the Tahawus Branch to store tanker cars.
New York State Office of the Governor – Governor Cuomo Unveils 8th Proposal of 2018 State of the State: New York will Take Action to Stop Railcar Storage in the Adirondack Park