Food & Water Watch: Today, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law groundbreaking legislation to protect the Hudson River from barges carrying fracked oil.
The bill was introduced in response to a proposal by the tug and barge industry to add 43 additional anchorages for oil barges on the river, stretching from Yonkers to Kingston.
“Governor Cuomo has taken another bold move to place the interests of New Yorkers over those of the fossil fuel industry,” said Eric Weltman, a Brooklyn-based Senior Organizer with Food & Water Watch. “Governor Cuomo has, once again, prioritized New York’s health and the environment over the profits of the fracking industry, and we’re thankful for his leadership.”
A network of environmental organizations, including Scenic Hudson, Riverkeeper, Food & Water Watch, the Sierra Club Lower Hudson, the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Audubon Society, and the New York League of Conservation Voters, spoke out against the proposal.
Citing environmental and community concerns, the groups spearheaded a campaign urging the New York State Legislature to pass bills A.6825A and S.5197B. The legislation expands New York State’s jurisdiction over the siting of oil barges on the Hudson River by enabling the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to create “Tanker Avoidance Zones” based on the presence of significant habitats and the concerns of waterfront communities.
The groups fear that the additional oil barge traffic would reverse decades of Hudson clean-up, and squander millions of dollars already spent revitalizing the waterfront. More oil barges on the river increases the risk for hazardous oil spills, threatens New Yorkers’ drinking water, and could damage the habitat of the endangered sturgeon and other species. Barges also produce significant noise and light pollution due to generators and stadium-like lighting on deck, disturbing communities along the waterfront.
Municipalities up and down the Hudson passed resolutions in opposition to the proposal. And the coalition galvanized community members across the state to submit thousands of petitions and make hundreds of phone calls to the New York State Legislature in support of protecting the Hudson from fracked oil, which resulted in the legislature’s decision, at the eleventh hour of the session, to pass this important bill.
Other news reports:
Poughkeepsie Journal: Hudson River protection law restricts oil tankers
Albany Times Union: State pushes back on Hudson oil barges
Yonkers Daily Voice: Bill Protecting Hudson Valley Waterfronts From Barges Signed By Cuomo