Bipartisan Bill to Permanently Ban Hudson River Barge Anchorages Is Introduced in U.S. House

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The Daily Catch: Federal law may permanently ban barges from anchoring on most of the Hudson River, if bipartisan legislation introduced Thursday by Reps. Pat Ryan (D-18) and Marc Molinaro (R-19) can garner enough support.

“This legislation will stop big corporations from turning our Hudson River into a parking lot for dangerous barges once and for all,” said Ryan in a statement. “These dangerous barges threaten the health and safety of our kids.”

Hudson Valley politicians and local residents have expressed outrage and concern after the Coast Guard in July opened the river between the Tappan Zee Bridge and Albany to anchorage, following a redrawing of the boundaries of the Port of New York. These boundaries have been used to enforce the anchorage ban.

Especially concerned were representatives of the roughly 100,000 residents who live in communities that draw drinking water from the river—Rhinebeck, Poughkeepsie, Hyde Park, Lloyd, and Esopus. Officials from those municipalities, represented by Hudson 7, the advocacy group chaired by Rhinebeck Village Mayor Gary Bassett, said they feared the barges could spill hazardous cargo since they often transport loads of oil or asphalt (Read our coverage).

Following public expressions of anger, the Coast Guard reinstated the anchorage ban on Nov. 9 through a Marine Service Information Bulletin (MSIB), nullifying July’s MSIB that opened the river north of the Tappan Zee to barge anchorage. But officials feared the ban would only be temporary and that the Coast Guard might seem to listen to public concerns but would ultimately revert to the open anchorage.

The bipartisan Hudson River Protection Act would codify the current ban on barge anchorage regardless of the Coast Guard’s definition of the Port of New York. The bill would amend the 2020 Elijah E. Cummings Coast Guard Authorization Act that previously banned barge anchorage along the Hudson by eliminating the legal language that gave the Coast Guard discretion to open up the river based on such boundary definitions.

If passed, the new bill would only allow barges to anchor at sites that were permitted in 2021, when the previous legislation went into effect. Therefore between the Tappan Zee Bridge and Troy, just north of Albany, barges would only be allowed to anchor at the federally designated anchorage point near Hyde Park. The bill will be marked up in the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Ryan’s office said. It is not yet known if there is a Senate sponsor for a companion bill.

Read more.

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Coast Guard, amid criticism, suspends new Hudson River anchorage rule, for now

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Poughkeepsie Journal:

The U.S. Coast Guard has, at least for now, shelved a plan that critics say would open the door to barges anchoring just about anywhere in the Hudson River from south of the Tappan Zee to the busy ports of Albany and Coeymans.

“The Coast Guard is aware of the public’s concerns regarding anchoring on the Hudson River,” a Nov. 9 Marine Safety Bulletin stated. The memo pledged “extensive public outreach opportunities to explore potential regulatory updates and limited access areas on the Hudson River.”

The Coast Guard hasn’t yet set up a way for the public to comment.

How to weigh in

But U.S. Rep. Pat Ryan launched a form, at patryan.house.gov/hudson-river-barge, to allow people to comment on the barge plan. He plans to forward responses to the Coast Guard.

The impacted stretch of the fragile estuary houses endangered species and supplies water for seven mid-Hudson municipalities home to more than 100,000 people.

“Now is the time for all of us to double down on our commitment to stop big corporations from turning our Hudson River into a parking lot for dangerous barges,” Ryan said in a statement.

Already fought off once

Local communities rallied against a plan launched in 2016 to establish 10 new fixed anchorage sites from Yonkers to Kingston.

The Coast Guard tabled the plan in 2019 after state agencies demanded reviews and 10,000 negative public comments were filed.

That was followed by a clause in the National Defense Authorization Act in 2021 that blocked any new anchorages in that stretch of river.

New plan, with a twist

In July, the Coast Guard revived the plan to expand Hudson anchorage options.

But this time the plan came with a twist.

In an unexpected Marine Safety Information Bulletin, the Coast Guard asserted that anchorage limitations don’t apply to the Hudson Valley because it’s out of the Port of New York and New Jersey’s jurisdiction.

The Coast Guard had gone back to re-examine the 1921 compact that set up the port and determined the original boundaries end 25 miles from the Statue of Liberty, or just south of where the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge is now located.

‘Big deal’ consequences

Westchester County Executive George Latimer lauded the decision to halt anchorage expansions.

“Our community values the Hudson River as a cherished resource,” Latimer said, “and this decision is a testament to the power of collective advocacy.”

Ryan, a Democrat who represents New York’s 18th Congressional District, warned the success at stopping more anchorages is likely temporary. While the Coast Guard memo adds steps to the review process, it doesn’t change the ultimate goal of expanding access to anchorages for industry.

John Lipscomb, boat captain and vice president of advocacy for Riverkeeper, gives a tour of the Kingston area on the Hudson River Oct. 25, 2023, which would be affected by the Coast Guard's decision to redefine the restricted "Port of New York" region for the placement of anchorages for barges in the Hudson. This plan was fought and legislated against earlier.

The consequences of expanded anchorages “are a very big deal,” said John Lipscomb, boat captain and vice president of advocacy for Riverkeeper, the environmental organization that advocates for the Hudson.

Nancy Cutler writes about People & Policy for lohud.com and the USA Today Network New York. Email her at ncutler@lohud.com; follow her on Twitter (X), Instagram and Threads at @nancyrockland.

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Hudson River barge-parking plan put on hold, Ryan says

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Daily Freeman: The U.S. Coast Guard has once again put on hold its controversial plan to allow barges to drop anchor up and down the Hudson River between New York City and Albany.

The decision to temporarily halt an administrative change that would have opened up the river north of the Mario Cuomo Bridge, which connects Westchester and Rockland counties, follows an outcry among elected officials and community leaders over the planned change.

“We won this initial victory because our community stood up and fought together,” said U.S. Rep Pat Ryan in a press release announcing the Coast Guard’s decision.

“But unfortunately, we know this success is temporary. Now is the time for all of us to double down on our commitment to stop big corporations from turning our Hudson River into a parking lot for dangerous barges,” added Ryan, D-Gardiner.

Local officials and environmental groups have been fighting Coast Guard plans to create anchorage grounds for large vessels on the Hudson River between Kingston and Yonkers since the plan was first announced in 2010.

The shipping industry has said the anchorage sites are needed to create safe places for ships to stop and crews to rest.

In 2017, the Coast Guard issued a statement indicating it had “suspended future rulemaking decisions and directed a formal risk identification and evaluation of the Hudson River, known as a Ports and Waterways Safety Assessment (PAWSA) … a disciplined approach to identify major waterway safety hazards, estimate risk levels, evaluate potential mitigation measures and set the stage for implementation of selected measures to reduce risk.”

In 2020, Congress passed the Elijah E. Cummings Coast Guard Authorization Act, which included a suspension on the establishment of new anchorage grounds between Yonkers and Kingston.

But in July, the Coast Guard redefined the boundaries of the Port of New York to encompass only that portion of the waterway between the Statue of Liberty and the Mario Cuomo Bridge, which in essence opened up the entire river between the bridge and Troy to barge parking. Previously, the Port of New York was defined as stretching to Troy, which meant the entire Hudson River to Troy fell under the auspices of the Port of New York, which has the authority to regulate where barges can anchor.

That change sparked another round of controversy and led Ryan to deliver a Nov. 1 speech on the House floor opposing the plan on the House floor and calling on Hudson Valley families to join the fight against the effort.

“Today’s news shows that we have the power to protect our communities if we stand up with one voice to protect our Hudson River,” Ulster County Executive Jen Metzger said in the release announcing the Coast Guard pause. “The Coast Guard has done the right thing by pausing their planned policy to park dangerous barges in the Hudson River, but we must continue to support Congressman Ryan and our other federal representatives to ensure this disastrous policy is never enacted.”

State Sen, Ron Rolison, R-Poughkeepsie, said in the release, “As I have said from the beginning, the current anchorage grounds along the Hudson are more than sufficient for future marine traffic volume. By dramatically expanding the number of areas barges and other large commercial vessels can anchor, the Coast Guard is acting outside the law and turning our river towns into its parking lot,” he said.

Read more: Hudson River barge-parking plan put on hold, Ryan says – Daily Freeman

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Barges Carrying Oil and Asphalt Now Have Free Rein on the Hudson North of Westchester, Worrying Local Officials

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The Daily Catch: Barges can again anchor without restriction along the Hudson River in Dutchess and Ulster counties for the first time since 2021 after a change by the U.S. Coast Guard.

But politicians and environmentalists are already fighting the change, saying unrestricted anchorage will threaten the region’s ecosystem and the safety of the roughly 100,000 residents who rely on the river for drinking water.

Officials from Hudson River communities are expressing concern that the anchored barges, which often transport cargo like oil and asphalt, could pollute the drinking water of Rhinebeck, Poughkeepsie, Hyde Park, Esopus, and Lloyd, all of which draw their drinking water from the river. Those communities are represented by an advocacy group called Hudson 7, chaired by Rhinebeck Village Mayor Gary Bassett. Red Hook does not get any drinking water from the Hudson.

“We have significant concerns with new anchorage locations in our watershed that could impact our drinking water intakes and critical habitat areas,” Bassett said in a statement. “We want restrictions to limit any risk of accidents and spills of hazardous products in the reach of our intakes that could imperil our water supply.”

Read more: Barges Carrying Oil and Asphalt Now Have Free Rein on the Hudson North of Westchester, Worrying Local Officials – The Daily Catch

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Hudson River Anchorages

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Coast Guard changes rules on anchoring in the Hudson River, allowing commercial vessels to anchor virtually anywhere north of the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge;

Riverkeeper and the public will need to speak up, once again, to protect endangered species and drinking water supplies

Riverkeeper and the public have made clear that we want strict limits on where, and for how long, commercial vessels are allowed to anchor in the Hudson River. Hazardous cargoes, creeping industrialization, impacts on drinking water supplies, and threats to endangered sturgeon are among the top concerns. In 2016, the Coast Guard received an unprecedented 10,000 comments opposing the maritime industry’s request to establish 10 new designated “anchorage grounds” in the river between Yonkers and Kingston, N.Y.

Seven years later, we must speak up again.

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Hudson River anchorages: It’s time to stand up for the river again

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Riverkeeper: In 2016, communities throughout the Hudson Valley united in opposition to a maritime industry request to vastly expand the designated areas in the Hudson River where commercial vessels are allowed to anchor.

Riverkeeper and the public made clear that we want strict limits on where, and for how long, commercial vessels are allowed to anchor in the Hudson River. Potential spills of hazardous cargo and threats to endangered sturgeon were among the top concerns. At the time, the tug and barge industry was eyeing a surge in crude oil shipments from the Midwest. The public outcry was huge: The Coast Guard received an unprecedented 10,212 comments, overwhelmingly opposed to the tug and barge industry’s request for 43 new berths in 10 locations along the river. In addition, dozens of local resolutions and numerous letters came from state, county and municipal governments, objecting to the proposal.

The industry’s request went nowhere, and so anchorage grounds – formally-designated anchoring locations – north of the Cuomo Bridge continued to be limited to just one location off Hyde Park.

Now, in 2023, all of that is changing.

What the Coast Guard is saying

The Coast Guard has reviewed the basis for regulations governing anchoring in the Hudson River. That review has resulted in significant changes

Read more: Hudson River anchorages: It’s time to stand up for the river again – Riverkeeper

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How a Coast Guard move could allow barges to anchor in the Hudson River after all

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Poughkeepsie Journal: Years after Hudson River advocates stopped the expansion of commercial shipping anchorages from the Tappan Zee to Kingston, a recent decision by the U.S. Coast Guard puts that supposed ban in jeopardy.

The Coast Guard basically is reinterpreting which rules cover that stretch of river. The change could alter where and how large vessels anchor along the fragile estuary.

“The consequences are a very big deal,” said John Lipscomb, boat captain and vice president of advocacy for Riverkeeper, the environmental organization that advocates for the Hudson.

If the changes stand, Lipscomb said, except for a few certain areas, “you can anchor any vessel, anywhere for any reason or for any duration.

What’s at stake

A recent boating excursion off Roundout Landing in Kingston underscores some of the concerns with having fuel-laden barges loaded with all sorts of cargo anchoring nearby.

  • Mid-Hudson communities — including Esopus, Lloyd, Hyde Park, town and village of Rhinebeck, and Poughkeepsie town and city — draw drinking water from the Hudson
  • The stretch of river is critical habitat for Atlantic and shortnose sturgeon, both endangered species
  • Various communities have invested millions into revitalizing their waterfronts. Any mishap could jeopardize the investment and recreational opportunities.

How change happened

The change was laid out in a July 2023 Marine Safety Information Bulletin.

Read more: Hudson River changes by Coast Guard allows anchorages past Tappan Zee

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Hudson River may become anchoring spot for large ships

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Albany Times Union: Will the Hudson River soon become a parking lot for barges and large ships waiting to enter the ports at Albany and Coeymans where offshore wind components are set to be built?

That’s the fear of environmentalists, who say a little-publicized regulatory change by the U.S. Coast Guard last summer potentially opens the way for massive barges and ships, some up to 300 feet long, to anchor, especially in the Kingston and Newburgh areas.

To be sure, no one is saying the entire Hudson River will be a watery version of the Long Island Expressway, with lines of ships up and down the tributary. There are only a few spots where anchoring a large ship or barge is viable — notably the area around Hyde Park, where anchoring is allowed, and spots near Kingston and Newburgh, which are, for now, being reopened up to anchoring.

Amid worries about sturgeon habitat there, and cognizant of the heavy local opposition to anchoring around Kingston and Newburgh almost a decade ago, the Riverkeeper environmental group is urging the Coast Guard to reconsider their rule change or to adopt new regulations to control anchoring along the Hudson.

Riverkeeper attorney Drew Gamils last month wrote to the Coast Guard’s regional office in Boston, urging their Lt. Cmdr. Michelle Villafane to consider looking at regulating anchorage spots along the Hudson north of the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge.

Read more: Hudson River may become anchoring spot for large ships

Final Letter Response to MSIB 2023 001 by rkarlin on Scribd

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