Assembly Push to Feds to Lower Pressure in Highly Flammable Oil Trains

This week, nearly two dozen Assemblymembers have signed onto a letter I initiated to the U.S. Department of Transportation, to support of New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman's petition to require increased safety standards in the operation of high-hazard flammable oil trains by establishing a federal vapor pressure standard for crude oil shipped by rail within the United States.

Given our region’s location as the convergence of rail lines from Canada and our country’s western states, we must continue to push crude oil transportation and storage safety and the protections, including the guidelines at the federal levels.

The growth of crude oil transport by rail has put many of our communities at risk. There have been numerous examples of incidents that have caused explosions resulting in significant property and environmental damage, and in some instances, loss of life. The petition submitted by the Attorney General is aimed at lowering the volatility of crude oil before it is transported. Evidence suggests that crude oil with higher Reid vapor pressures have a much greater tendency to ignite and explode.

The petition requests the establishment of a federal Reid vapor pressure limit at a level of less than 9.0 pounds for square inch. This practice is already in place in some areas of the country, but it is not universal. Shippers operating in the Eagle Ford Shale in Texas, where the oil produced has similar vapor pressures to Bakken crude, commonly stabilize the crude before transport.

While nothing short of removing this dangerous product from the rail lines will fully protect our communities, this is a common sense safety measure that deserves support.

Hamilton author speaks at Archives Partnership Trust awards event. There was a capacity crowd at the New York State Archives Partnership Trust's 2016 Archives and History Award presentation Wednesday night at NYSED's Chancellor Hall in Albany. This year's award recipient is American author, biographer, historian, and Pulitzer Prize-winner Ron Chernow, whose career includes his landmark biography Alexander Hamilton, a New York Times Bestseller and the inspiration for the hit Broadway musical “Hamilton: An American Musical”!

Register for Smart Cities Forum. You’re invited to my upcoming Smart Cities Legislative Forum: Savings, Safety, and Innovation for Tuesday, November 15 from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the New York State Capitol’s Assembly Parlor.

Cutting-edge technologies such as smart street lights and next generation high-speed connectivity are the wave of the future. Municipalities across New York State are discovering how these can be used to improve quality-of-life for residents while producing needed savings and increasing safety. In coordination with the New York Conference of Mayors, the event will feature several mayors and municipal leaders, including Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan and Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy.

Also speaking at the forum will be Public Service Commission Chair Audrey Zibelman and retired General Electric Chief Technology Officer Mark Little, in addition to other notable business and community leaders including Capital Region Chamber President & CEO Mark Eagan. I will be joined by my Capital Region colleagues Assemblymembers: John McDonald, Angelo Santabarbara, Phil Steck, and Carrie Woerner

The forum will focus on efficiencies, barriers, and solutions for cities to fully integrate smart technologies. The event is free to attend, but pre-registration is required due to limited capacity...

Election Day. This upcoming Tuesday is Election Day. Polls open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Not sure where to vote or have questions? You can call Albany County Board of Elections at (518) 487-5060.

Below are a few other notes and highlights that I’d like to share with you.

Women’s Suffrage Movement. Old Songs will present “The American Women’s Suffrage Movement in New York State in Song & Story” for two performances, Friday and Saturday, November 18 and 19 at 7:30 p.m. A concert of New York State’s hidden history in a performance of authentic songs used to persuade, rally and celebrate as sung by women and men during the American Women’s Suffrage Movement. Songs which range from humorous to poignant, from strident marches to hymns, and popular parlor songs. Through historical narrative and the songs we will tell the story of how American women won the right to vote in 1917 in New York, and 1920 in the nation. Visit the Old Songs Web site for more information.

Job Opportunities: New York State has setup a new job portal entitled Jobs Express, where thousands of private and public sector jobs are listed. Visit for more information on how to apply for these opportunities.

As always, for the latest news or for upcoming events, please visit my office online, on Facebook, on Twitter, or my Times Union blog. If you would like to reach my office, please feel free to send us a note.