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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hudson River Anchorages

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

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

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

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

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

Hudson River may become anchoring spot for large ships

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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Ryan raps Coast Guard plan to turn Hudson River into ‘parking lot for dangerous oil barges’

Ryan raps Coast Guard plan to turn Hudson River into ‘parking lot for dangerous oil barges’

Kingston Freeman: Barges carrying oil, asphalt, and other hazardous materials could soon be allowed to indefinitely park virtually anywhere along the Hudson River in Upstate, according to U.S. Rep. Pat Ryan.

Ryan, D-Gardiner, who represents the 18th Congressional District, said Wednesday that after a recent administrative change to the definition of the Port of New York, Ryan had pushed the U.S. Coast Guard for answers.

“After finally receiving a response that left the door open to barges lining the Hudson, Ryan is demanding the Coast Guard uphold the Hudson River anchoring ban,” a press release said.

“This would turn the Hudson River into a parking lot for dangerous oil barges, threatening the health and safety of our kids, the more than 100,000 people who rely on the river for their drinking water, and our entire ecosystem,” Ryan said in a statement.

“Just a few years ago, a coalition led by local community leaders and nonprofits like Riverkeeper and Scenic Hudson banded together to protect our River from big corporations who were putting their profits ahead of our health and safety,” Ryan said. “We must once again stand up with one voice to fight for our River.”

Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan said the barge-parking must be stopped.

Read more: Ryan raps Coast Guard plan to turn Hudson River into ‘parking lot for dangerous oil barges’ – Daily Freeman

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Carbon-Neutral Shipping on the Hudson

Carbon-Neutral Shipping on the Hudson

Scenic Hudson: These days the Hudson River can feel like a car barrier — something to cross on a bridge or drive alongside. But originally this curving waterway was the region’s superhighway.

A pilot project is nudging the Hudson Valley to return to river transport — in a carbon-neutral way — with sail freight. The captain behind the project, Sam Merrett, is an avid young sailor who has been carefully restoring a 68,000-pound steel schooner called the Apollonia for the last four years.

The Apollonia was scheduled to begin its first cargo runs from upriver to New York City this summer. Although the launch has been pushed back due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Merrett has teamed up with the Hudson River Maritime Museum in the meantime for the North River Sail. The joint educational sail went up and down the Hudson in June with the museum’s sun-powered Solaris boat. 

Together, the vessels raised awareness of the river’s transportation history — and future potential. Both are pioneering. The Solaris is the first 100 percent solar-powered tour boat to earn U.S. Coast Guard certification, according to the museum.  Read more.

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Rep. Maloney hails House-approved measure to ban Hudson River anchorage grounds

Rep. Maloney hails House-approved measure to ban Hudson River anchorage grounds

Kingston Daily Freeman: Federal legislation to permanently bar large vessels from anchoring in the Hudson River between Kingston and Yonkers is halfway to the president’s desk.

The bill, authored by Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-Cold Spring, has cleared the House and awaits action by the Senate.

“The bill I wrote also requires that any new oil barge storage on the Hudson River, wherever it is sited, requires 180 days notice to the Congress so that we can see how we feel about that, as well,” Maloney said. “Because we care about the whole Hudson River, not just our part of it.”

Similar federal legislation approved in 2017 imposed only a two-year ban on new anchorage grounds.

Maloney said the new bill does include a provision under which barges that become disabled can stay where they are until they are able to move or be moved. And the bill does not include any penalty resulting from damage or spillage caused by a barge.

At a Thursday news conference at the Hudson River shore in New Windsor, the town’s deputy supervisor, Patricia Mullarkey, said, “New Windsor is very happy to be a part of this. New Windsor realizes what a jewel the Hudson River is….” Read more.

Additional news articles about the legislation:

Bill Banning Barge Anchorages On Hudson River Passes House, Tarrytown-Sleepy Hollow, NY Patch

Hudson Anchorage Ban Passes House, The Highlands Current

Local lawmakers speak out on anchorage bill, Mid-Hudson News

Rep. Maloney Hails House Passage Of Measure To Ban Anchorage Sites, WAMC

Rep. Maloney’s Ban on Oil Barges Anchoring in the Hudson River Passes House, Spectrum News

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14-foot fish spotted in river, giving hope to vanished giant’s return

14-foot fish spotted in river, giving hope to vanished giant’s return

National Geographic: One day last June, two researchers were towing a special sonar system up and down the Hudson River near Hyde Park, New York, the site of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s home, when they saw something pleasantly shocking.

They were helping state biologists assess whether the spawning or foraging of a fabled and endangered bottom-feeding denizen, the Atlantic sturgeon(Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus), was being disrupted when commercial vessels dropped anchor in a spot designated as a waiting area to manage ship traffic.

The anchorage, established in 1999, happened to be located in a stretch of the Hudson that is one of the most important spawning grounds in its range along the coast from Florida through Canada’s maritime provinces. More anchorages were planned elsewhere in the Hudson….

The sonar revealed a sturgeon roughly twice as long as anything seen that day—confidently estimated at just over 14 feet from nose to tail tip. That’s a size that, even decades ago, even a century ago, was considered a rarity. But now, it was unimaginable given what this species had endured….

The debate over adding anchorages along the Hudson is on hold for now after fierce opposition from environmental groups and scientists, including a cautionary 2016 letter to the Coast Guard from Madsen and Fox, who’ve been doing surveys around Hyde Park for several years.

But any harm from dragging anchors would be just one of a host of far broader assaults on this species, and sturgeon worldwide, over the last century. Read more.

(Photo, Courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

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The Hudson River Named 2nd Most Endangered River in America

The Hudson River Named 2nd Most Endangered River in America

Westchester Magazine: The Hudson River, namesake to an entire art movement and a central pillar of Westchester culture, has another distinction to add to its list: as of 2019 it is also the second most endangered river in the United States.

Every year, American Rivers releases its America’s Most Endangered Rivers report, weighing the significance of the country’s water sources against pending decisions that might impact their vitality within the next year, the severity of the threat, and the public’s ability to affect positive change. This year, for the first time in more than two decades, the Hudson River is included in this list, and in the second-highest spot.

The threat surprisingly comes not from pollutants or the contentious Indian Point nuclear facility, but from current plans by the Army Corps of Engineers to build surge barriers in and along the 315-mile river to manage storm damage. The goal is to prevent or mitigate destruction caused by extreme weather like 2012’s Hurricane Sandy. Unfortunately, as residents might recall from the Coast Guard’s previous attempts to build anchorage sites throughout the Hudson several years ago, these plans do not always receive the backing of local residents or environmental groups. Read more.

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Amtrak Withdraws Fencing Plan along Hudson

Amtrak Withdraws Fencing Plan along Hudson

Amtrak has announced that it is withdrawing its plan to install gates and fences along the Hudson River shoreline. According to the Amtrak press release, the proposal will be revised “in conjunction with a five-year corridor plan to improve safety long the Empire Service Hudson Line.” Amtrak will work with state and local officials and affected communities as it formulates the revised plan. For more information, visit Gatesgate.org.

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Scenic Hudson, Germantown and Rhinebeck to host event on Amtrak’s proposal for new fencing and locked gates

Scenic Hudson, Germantown and Rhinebeck to host event on Amtrak’s proposal for new fencing and locked gates

Amtrak has proposed new fencing and locked gates at crossings along the Empire Corridor South between Rhinecliff and Stuyvesant. Eventually, it plans to construct similar barriers at locations between Rensselaer and Poughkeepsie.

Amtrak’s project would eliminate public access to the Hudson River at places where people have launched boats, fished and hunted for generations. Residents of Castleton-on-Hudson have already lost access to their public waterfront park.

Scenic Hudson and the Towns of Germantown and Rhinebeck invite you to Balancing Passenger Rail Safety with Public River Access on Saturday December 15th from 10 a.m. to noon at  the Kellner Community Activities Center, 50 Palatine Park Road, Germantown, NY. Registration will begin at 9:30 a.m. with refreshments and networking.

The purpose of this event is for you to learn about Amtrak’s proposal for new fencing and locked gates at crossings along the Empire Corridor South between Rensselaer and Poughkeepsie. This project would eliminate public access to the Hudson River at places where people have launched boats, fished and hunted for generations. We look forward to sharing with you 21st Century approaches that better balance railroad safety with public access.

Following the program, you’ll have an opportunity to visit a nearby site where a proposed 700-foot-long fence would prevent generations of public access.

Please RSVP for the event here.

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USACE to hold hearing in Westchester about storm barrier proposal and impact on Hudson River

USACE to hold hearing in Westchester about storm barrier proposal and impact on Hudson River

Sen. Murphy press release: Albany, NY – When the United States Coast Guard announced an ill-conceived plan to establish 10 new anchorage sites for oil barges along the Hudson River, Senator Terrence Murphy led the charge that ultimately sank their proposal. When Entergy stunned the Hudson Valley with the news that they planned to close Indian Point by 2021, Senator Murphy led a bipartisan coalition of state, county, and local officials to secure $24 million in state funds to relieve the financial burden for residents in the area.

In early July, the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) held a series of meetings to explore the impact of offshore barriers to protect the metropolitan region on storm surge flooding but failed to address sea level rise. They also neglected to hold any meetings in the Hudson Valley, despite it being the heart of the Hudson Valley Estuary. Senator Murphy made it his mission to see that the people most affected by the USACE’s actions would have a voice.

On Wednesday, October 3, the USACE, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, and Westchester County Executive George Latimer will host two scoping meetings for the New York and New Jersey Harbor and Tributaries (NYNJHAT) Study. The meetings will be held at the Westchester County Center, 198 Central Avenue, in White Plains, with the first meeting from 3 p.m. – 5 p.m. and the second from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.  But many say more needs to be done. Read MoreFacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Scenic Hudson: New Study Details Oil Spill Risks on Hudson River

Scenic Hudson: New Study Details Oil Spill Risks on Hudson River

New study provides first-ever comprehensive scientific analysis of risks to drinking water, habitats, riverfront communities. Report comes as U.S. Department of Transportation repeals rule requiring more efficient brakes on trains carrying crude oil, other flammable substances

HUDSON VALLEY—Polluted habitats and beaches spanning from Kingston to New York Harbor… Explosions causing significant human injury and fatalities… Toxic vapors that could pose serious health threats… A new scientific study of oil spill risks on the Hudson River evaluates the potential for disasters like these to occur.

Scenic Hudson commissioned Environmental Research Consulting (ERC), a leading expert in analyzing oil spill impacts and emergency preparedness, to undertake this first-ever Hudson River Oil Spill Risk Assessment (HROSRA). It is intended to provide stakeholders—including federal, state and local officials, spill responders, environmental groups and concerned citizens—with scientific data about the impacts a spill could have on drinking water, critical wildlife habitats, fishing and other recreational opportunities, and waterfront communities.

On September 24, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced that it had repealed its rule mandating safety upgrades for trains carrying crude oil and other flammable substances. Under the rule, all trains bearing hazardous materials like these had until 2021 to install electronically controlled pneumatic brakes, which decrease the likelihood of derailment.  Read more.

(Photo: Tanker Sanchi Explosion in January 2018)FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Storm Surge Barriers: A threat to the very life of the Hudson & Harbor

Storm Surge Barriers: A threat to the very life of the Hudson & Harbor

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is considering several options for coastal storm protections in our region, and some of these options would have catastrophic consequences for the Hudson and New York Harbor. Specifically, storm surge barriers – giant ocean gates – would choke off tidal flow and the migration of fish – damaging the life of the Hudson River Estuary forever.

Scenic Hudson has a website page with links to the key documents and where to send your comments.  There’s also a page with some of the comments that have been submitted by public officials, journalists and members of the public, as well a list of government resolutions.FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Understanding the Behavior and Impact of a Hudson River Oil Spill

Understanding the Behavior and Impact of a Hudson River Oil Spill

Scenic Hudson: To further protect the Hudson River and lands surrounding it, Scenic Hudson commissioned the first-ever Hudson River Oil Spill Risk Assessment. It provides quantitative and qualitative information on the likelihood of oil spills occurring on the river, and gauges their potential economic, community and environmental impacts. The assessment also takes a comprehensive look at current spill-prevention measures and response preparedness, and offers strategies to improve them.

The Hudson River Oil Spill Risk Assessment provides both quantitative and qualitative information on spill threats that can be used for a variety of purposes, including, but not limited to:

  • assessing the efficacy of existing spill prevention measures
  • developing or evaluating the potential for new spill prevention measures
  • assessing the current state of spill response preparedness
  • developing or evaluating the potential for new spill response preparedness measures
  • assessing current spill contingency planning
  • developing new spill contingency planning measures

Many factors influence the harm an oil spill can cause to resources vital to the region’s public and environmental health. They include the trajectory of spilled oil, its chemical and physical properties, and when and where a spill occurs. To provide a realistic overview of possible outcomes, the assessment details 77 hypothetical spill scenarios in nine locations along the Hudson.  Read more.

(Photo: The team that created the Hudson River Oil Spill Risk Assessment was led by Dr. Dagmar Schmidt Etkin (third from left) of Environmental Research Consulting in Cortlandt Manor, and included Dr. Deborah French McCay and Jill Rowe of RPS Ocean Science, John Joeckel of SEAConsult and Dr. Andrew Wolford of Risknology, Inc.)FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Army Corps of Engineers fast-tracks proposal for  floodwall barriers to protect NY Harbor, endangering life of Hudson River

Army Corps of Engineers fast-tracks proposal for floodwall barriers to protect NY Harbor, endangering life of Hudson River

Riverkeeper: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is considering six different plans for massive offshore barriers and/or land-based floodwalls intended to “manage the risk of coastal storm damage” to New York Harbor and the Hudson Valley. Several of these alternatives could threaten the very existence of the Hudson as a living river.

If you live anywhere near the shorelines of New York City, New York Harbor or the Hudson up to Troy, your community will be forever affected by this decision.

Anyone who cares about the life in the Hudson River needs to become informed and involved, now.

Please attend one of these meetings, just announced:

• Monday, July 9, 3-5 p.m., NYC: Borough of Manhattan Community Center in Tribeca, enter at 199 Chambers St, New York, NY 10007, between Greenwich St. and the West Side Highway. The session is in the Conference Room-Richard Harris Terrace, on the main floor.

• Monday, July 9, 6-8 p.m., NYC: (duplicate session) at the Borough of Manhattan Community Center in Tribeca, enter at 199 Chambers St., Manhattan, between Greenwich St. and the West Side Highway. The session is in the Conference Room-Richard Harris Terrace, on the main floor.

• Tuesday, July 10, 3-5 p.m., Newark: Rutgers University-Newark Campus, Paul Robeson Campus Center, 2nd floor, Essex Room. Entrance is at 350 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Newark, N.J.

• Tuesday, July 10, 6-8 p.m., Newark: (duplicate session) at Rutgers University-Newark Campus, Paul Robeson Campus Center, 2nd floor, Essex Room. Entrance is at 350 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Newark, N.J.

• Wednesday, July 11, 6-8 p.m., Poughkeepsie: Hudson Valley Community Center (Auditorium room), 110 Grand Avenue, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

This process is being fast-tracked, and it’s an outrage. The Army Corps gave only 12 days’ notice for meetings on an issue that will take many years to resolve and could change the river forever.

The six alternatives are under consideration as part of the New York – New Jersey Harbor and Tributaries (NYNJHAT) Coastal Storm Risk Management Feasibility Study, affecting more than 2,150 square miles. We all know that sea level rise and more frequent, intense storms require action and planning. But there is a difference between creating more protective, resilient shorelines over time, and installing massive, in-water barriers that threaten to change the ecosystem forever. Offshore barriers will choke off tidal flow and fish migration – the very life of our river.

Riverkeeper is working on an information piece to tell you what you need to know. Please mark your calendars and stay tuned.  Learn more.FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Maloney, Engel Seek Coast Guard Commitment on any new anchorage proposals

Maloney, Engel Seek Coast Guard Commitment on any new anchorage proposals

HVNN.com: Representatives Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18) and Eliot Engel (NY-16) have requested that the Coast Guard commit to conducting early public outreach and release an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) prior to proposing any new anchorage proposals.

They also requested that the Guard permanently maintain a Harbor Safety Committee for the Hudson River north of the George Washington Bridge.

In 2017, the Coast Guard rescinded its initial proposal to establish new anchorage sites along the river and instead opted to conduct a Ports and Waterways Safety Assessment (PAWSA). Although the initial proposal is dead, no legal barrier prohibits future attempts to propose the establishment of new anchorage sites in the river.

“The Hudson Valley killed the first anchorage proposal together – ten thousand citizens, committed local groups, and elected officials on both sides of the aisle – but this thing could come back – and if it does, we want to be ready,” said Rep. Maloney. “We’re just asking the Coast Guard to do things in a more transparent way this time around – clearly this means a lot to us, and they need to take that into account before they propose adding even a single new anchorage site.”  Read more.FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Sunken barge recovered from Hudson River at Port of Coeymans

Sunken barge recovered from Hudson River at Port of Coeymans

Times Union: Scuba divers and underwater cutting equipment were used Wednesday to remove a sunken barge from the bottom of the Hudson River at the Port of Coeymans.

The barge had been there since sinking in February while tied up at the port, said U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Steve Strohmaier. The barge could not be refloated, and was too heavy to lift, so it had to be cut up underwater and lifted out in sections, he said.

At the time of the sinking, the barge was carrying construction and demolition debris, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

That waste was recovered from the river before efforts were made to remove the barge, according to DEC. The agency added that “no adverse environmental impacts are expected from the salvage operation.”  Read more.FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Scenic Hudson cheers company plan to scale back crude oil shipping through Hudson River, rail system

Scenic Hudson cheers company plan to scale back crude oil shipping through Hudson River, rail system

Daily Freeman: Environmental advocacy group Scenic Hudson is cheering a decision by an oil transportation company to scale back its crude oil shipping plans on the Hudson River and rail system.

Massachusetts-based Global Partners said earlier this week it would scale back a permit that allows it to increase the amount of tar sands crude oil from 450 million gallons to 2.2 billion gallons annually.

The move was announced earlier this week based on information provided from the state Department of Environmental Conservation to opponents, but a public document was not immediately available Thursday.

“We need to await Global’s permit modification application to DEC to see the exact numbers, but what they stated was they would be significantly scaling back their currently allowed crude oil output and that they would be withdrawing their application to handle the heavy tar sands product at their Albany terminal,” said Hayley Carlock, Scenic Hudson’s environmental advocacy director.  Read more.FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Global Partners Withdraws Application To Build Crude Oil Heating Facility At Port Of Albany

Global Partners Withdraws Application To Build Crude Oil Heating Facility At Port Of Albany

WAMC: A company that handles crude oil shipped by tanker trains and Hudson River barges says it’s scaling back operations at the Port of Albany.

County Executive Dan McCoy got the official word Tuesday that Massachusetts-based Global Partners opted to withdraw its application to expand operations and build a crude oil heating facility at the port. McCoy held a press conference Wednesday morning in a parking lot near the playground at Ezra Prentice Homes on South Pearl Street in Albany.  “And it’s been almost four years to the day that I stood here and I signed a moratorium against Global. And the thing about when I signed that moratorium, everyone said to me ‘what’s a little county like Albany County gonna do against a giant like Global?’ Well, I stand here today and I can tell ya, we did a lot, and you can make a difference if you stick to it and you see it through.”

Global sued the state Department of Environmental Conservation in 2013 for not issuing the permit, which was opposed by environmental groups and Ezra Prentice residents, who say they live in constant fear of oil spills, odors and the possibility their lives could be disrupted if there was a derailment of nearby freight trains.   “We want people that live here to enjoy the quality of life and to be safe. And again, you know when you fight Goliath vs. David, you can win with the right team behind you. And I want to again thank the team and the residents for everything that they did.”  Read more.FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Pace Students Travel To DC, Advocate For Hudson River

Pace Students Travel To DC, Advocate For Hudson River

Putnam Daily Voice: Students in Pace University’s Environmental Policy Clinic along with their adviser, John Cronin, spent Friday, April 20 in Washington, D.C., advocating for issues related to the Hudson River.

Cronin is the senior fellow for Environmental Affairs at Pace.  Cronin said a controversial proposal for oil barge anchorages on the Hudson River was the subject of their visit with the region’s congressional delegation.

“Our students conveyed the need for Coast Guard procedures that assure both river protection and river safety,” said Cronin, who is the Clinic instructor.

“We hope that representatives of the tug and barge industry, who have also been active in Washington, agree with the Clinic that these issues need not be at odds,” Cronin told Daily Voice.  Read more.FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Amtrak’s Proposal for New Fences and Gates along the Hudson

Amtrak’s Proposal for New Fences and Gates along the Hudson

Amtrak has submitted a proposal to New York State to install fencing and gates at several locations along the Hudson River in Rhinecliff, Tivoli, Germantown, Stockport and Stuyvesant. The purpose of the fences and gates is to keep people safe, but these barriers will block people from enjoying access points to the the Hudson that they have enjoyed access for years.

Scenic Hudson and Riverkeeper have encouraged their members to submit comments on the proposal.  The public comment period has been extended to Tuesday, May 1.

Here’s a page with more information and maps of the proposed fences and gates.FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Con­tin­ued Vig­i­lance Urged on Hud­son An­chor­age Is­sue

Con­tin­ued Vig­i­lance Urged on Hud­son An­chor­age Is­sue

Hudson Independent: The Coast Guard has shelved its pro­posal to add 43 barge an­chor­age lo­ca­tions on the Hud­son River, but en­vi­ron­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tions are keep­ing a watch­ful eye on how the plan might be res­ur­rected in the fu­ture.

The con­tro­ver­sial con­cept, pur­sued by the ship­ping in­dus­try and ini­tially pro­posed two years ago, drew op­po­si­tion from mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and much of the pub­lic, with en­vi­ron­men­tal groups lead­ing the re­sis­tance. A ma­jor con­cern was that with the added an­chor­age sites, haz­ardous car­goes such as oil could leak into the Hud­son River from the barges.

Pressed by the op­po­si­tion, the Coast Guard sus­pended the plan last year and held two work­shops this past No­vem­ber, one in Al­bany and the other in Pough­keep­sie, to hear from both the mar­itime in­ter­ests and those against the pro­posal.

Last month, the Coast Guard re­leased an ac­count of the is­sues dealt with at the work­shops: the Hud­son River Ports and Wa­ter­ways Safety As­sess­ment (PAWSA) Re­port. The re­lease stated, “The PAWSA work­shops were held in or­der to pro­vide stake­hold­ers an op­por­tu­nity to as­sist the Coast Guard in un­der­stand­ing nav­i­ga­tion safety and en­vi­ron­men­tal con­cerns on the Hud­son River.” It called the re­port, “a start­ing point for con­tin­u­ing di­a­logue with the Hud­son River stake­holder com­mu­nity.” The an­chor­age is­sue was placed in abeyance, at least for the pre­sent.  Read more.FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Anchorages Away

Anchorages Away

Highlands Current: The U.S. Coast Guard’s proposal to create 10 anchorage sites in the Hudson River, including one between Beacon and Newburgh, is dead — for now.

A newly completed safety assessment by the Coast Guard does not recommend adding anchorage grounds to the two available at Yonkers and Hyde Park. But it also did not rule out more anchorage sites being proposed in the future.

The initial plan, which came in January 2016 at the request of the Tug & Barge Committee of the Port of New York and New Jersey, would have created space for up to 43 barges to anchor in the river between Yonkers and Kingston.

Riverkeeper’s John Lipscomb, Scenic Hudson’s Andy Bicking, Yonkers Councilman Mike Breen, Congressmen Sean Patrick Maloney and Eliot Engel, Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano and Westchester County Executive George Latimer at a news conference in Yonkers (Photo by B. Cronin)

The Tug & Barge Committee said that the anchorages were needed to allow crews to rest on trips between the New York Harbor and Albany. Opponents argued the distance is too short to require such a large number of anchorages; that the anchorages would harm marine life and the quality of life for riverfront communities; and that the proposal would lead to oil-laden tankers parking in the river for weeks at a time while waiting for the price of oil to reach a favorable amount in the Port of Albany.  Read more.FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Coast Guard Plans to Create Anchorages on Hudson on Thin Ice

Coast Guard Plans to Create Anchorages on Hudson on Thin Ice

The Examiner: Regional officials declared victory for the Hudson Valley after the United States Coast Guard announced last week it wasn’t setting sail on a controversial plan to create 43 new barge anchorages in 10 sites along the Hudson River, from Yonkers to Kingston.

Two of the 10 sites that were being considered by the Coast Guard were located within the borders of the Town of Cortlandt: approximately 127 acres in the Montrose region that would accommodate as many as three vessels, and approximately 98 acres between Tomkins Cove in Rockland County and Verplanck that would also handle up to three vessels. The Coast Guard was proposing to use more than 2,000 acres of the Hudson for barges.  Read more.FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Hudson anchorage decision should be final: Editorial

Hudson anchorage decision should be final: Editorial

Poughkeepsie Journal Editorial: Sure, it is highly encouraging the Coast Guard is suspending the outrageous and dangerous notion of allowing a slew of new commercial shipping anchorages along the Hudson River.

The Coast Guard is, at least for now, rejecting the proposal for 10 such areas – in places stretching from Yonkers to Kingston, where commercial ships, mostly oil tankers, could drop anchor.

But this potentially menacing matter isn’t entirely settled. The Coast Guard’s “final Ports and Waterways Safety Assessment” leads open the possibility of such anchorages in the future, and that is clearly unacceptable.  Read more.

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