Senators Weigh In On Hudson River Anchorages

Senators Weigh In On Hudson River Anchorages

Maritime Executive: U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand have called on the Coast Guard to solicit more input from the public before creating designated barge anchorages on the Hudson River – a scenic region better known for tourism and riverfront estates than for maritime trade.

Senators Schumer and Gillibrand called on the Coast Guard to work with all relevant local, state and federal agencies to examine the impact of the anchorage designation before reaching a decision.

The ten anchorages would be sited between Kingston and Yonkers, with the largest clusters near Kingston and Newburgh. Among other objections, the opponents of the plan have raised the prospect of noise and light pollution “detracting from municipalities’ revitalization efforts,” which are centered on tourism.

A letter filed by lawyers for non-profit advocacy group Riverkeeper says that during past anchorage usage, “local residents complained of ‘stadium lighting’ on the barges and generator noise throughout the night.”

Local officials echoed these concerns, suggesting that several anchorage locations would be within view of local riverfront attractions.  Read more.

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Proposed Hudson anchorages raise alarms

Proposed Hudson anchorages raise alarms

lohud.com: Residents in one scenic Hudson River village were not happy.

Commercial ships, primarily carrying petroleum-based goods, had been dropping anchor on the river off the banks of Rhinecliff, a few miles before the river narrows en route to the ports of Albany and Coeymans.

Nearly a year later, however, the complaints they registered with the Coast Guard have only stirred up more controversy.

The shipping industry wants to turn those anchorages — places commercial ships can stop to wait for better conditions or space to open in a port — into official Coast Guard-designated parking spaces at 10 separate locations along the Hudson, from Yonkers north to Kingston.

Three of those would be in the Lower Hudson Valley, including the largest, in Yonkers. The other two local anchorages would be off Montrose and Stony Point.

The shipping industry says the anchorages are necessary to allow them to safely navigate the river, which varies in width and depth.

Environmental groups like Riverkeeper, that are part of a rising tide of opposition, see something more nefarious at play.

“We’re seeing a tremendous amount of interest in this. We’re inundated by contacts from the public, from mayors, from county executives,” said Riverkeeper boat captain John Lipscomb, whose organization is opposed to the new anchorages. “The comments are spanning a hundred miles of river. The comments are broad, geographically and demographically.”  Read more.

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Just how much cargo is shipped on the Hudson?

Just how much cargo is shipped on the Hudson?

lohud.com: The debate over proposed anchorages on the Hudson River highlights a sometimes-overlooked fact: That the waterway is a major thoroughfare for a variety of goods.

“I don’t think most people know how active the cargo is on the river,” said Capt. Ian Corcoran, president of the Hudson River Pilots Association, a group of licensed pilots who guide ships up and down the river. The group was one of several which pushed a proposal for 10 new Hudson River anchorages.

Corcoran can rattle off a list of goods that pilots steer along the Hudson, from petroleum products to gypsum to cement to grain and road salt.

But exactly how much of that is on the move can be tough to nail down. State agencies contacted by the Journal News/lohud.com said they did not keep statistics on Hudson River cargo; the Coast Guard only keeps statistics during the winter, when it is tasked with running icebreakers on the river.  Read more.

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Hudson River anchorage plan review draws objections from Dutchess County executive

Hudson River anchorage plan review draws objections from Dutchess County executive

Kingston Freeman: Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro says the U.S. Coast Guard needs to improve the rule-making process for determining whether 10 proposed anchorage sites should be established in the Hudson River.

Molinaro said a website with a comment section is insufficient to evaluate the proposal.

“First and foremost, the federal government and the Coast Guard need to extend the comment period to the end of the year and need to hold public hearing to solicit public concern,” he said.

Coast Guard officials have set a Sept. 7 deadline for comments at www.regulations.gov/document?D=USCG-2016-0132-0001. They have said the comments will be considered in determining whether the request for anchorage sites is appropriate and, if so, the rules that would govern the locations.

“When a decision like this is being made, the federal government, any government, should take the time necessary to allow for public dialogue and public consideration,” Molinaro said. “The public comment period is very short. In the midst of summer months and insufficient to allow those who would be impacted, and there are many, to allow their voice and concerns considered.”  Read more.

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Upcoming meetings about the anchorage proposal

Upcoming meetings about the anchorage proposal

Two meetings will be held over the coming days to discuss the proposed anchorages on the Hudson River.   John Lipscomb, Boat Captain of Riverkeeper, will be on hand to explain the issues at both meetings.  (Riverkeeper’s letter about the proposal is here.)

Stone Ridge: Monday, August 8, 6 p.m., at the Ulster County Energy and Environment Committee meeting, at the Howard C. St. John Business Seminar Room, Clinton Hall, SUNY/Ulster in Stone Ridge.  A representative of the Maritime Association of the Port of NY/NJ Tug and Barge Committee will be present.  The Association is one of the groups that have asked the Coast Guard to establish the new anchorages.  (The Association’s letter in support of the proposal is here.)

Rhinebeck: Wed., August 10, 5:30 p.m., Rhinebeck Town Hall, 80 East Market St., hosted by Dutchess County Legislator Joel Tyner.

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Riverkeeper: Proposed new Hudson River anchorage grounds: Critical issues and what you can do

Riverkeeper: Proposed new Hudson River anchorage grounds: Critical issues and what you can do

Riverkeeper: In June, the U.S. Coast Guard announced that it was soliciting comments and concerns from the public on a proposal to establish a large number of anchorage grounds for commercial vessels in the Hudson River – 30 berths in 10 locations from Yonkers to Kingston – at the request of industry.

This action, which caught many communities off guard, was taken at the behest of several commercial organizations: the Maritime Association of the Port of NY/NJ Tug and Barge Committee, the Hudson River Port Pilot’s Association, and the American Waterways Operators.

When the Coast Guard receives such requests, they’re required to respond, substantively.

In order to more fully inform its internal review, the Coast Guard is accepting comments from the public through September 7, 2016. Essentially, the Coast Guard is taking the temperature of the communities along the Hudson while also asking the barge and boat industries for clarifications to their initial proposal, which would open up over 2,400 acres to new anchorages.

There are currently just two official anchorage grounds, at Yonkers and Hyde Park.
Additional anchorages are proposed for: Kingston Flats South, Port Ewen, Big Rock Point, Milton, Roseton, Marlboro, Newburgh, Tompkins Cove, Montrose Point, and Yonkers.

Last month, Riverkeeper, in partnership with the Pace Law School Environmental Clinic, and alongside communities, advocacy groups, and citizens, called for public hearings on these plans. Until the Coast Guard decides whether to propose these new anchorage grounds, we won’t know whether our call for public hearings will be accepted or rejected.  Read more.

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Hudson River anchorage proponent downplays visual impacts

Hudson River anchorage proponent downplays visual impacts

Daily Freeman: One of the groups behind the request for commercial vessel anchorage sites along the Hudson River between Kingston and Yonkers says there will be little to no visual impact if the U.S. Coast Guard approves the plan.

“This has been custom and practice for hundreds of years,” Edward Kelly, executive director of the Maritime Association of the Port of New York/New Jersey, said by phone Thursday. “It’s not like suddenly these things are going to show up and mar people’s viewsheds.”

Kelly said people near waterways who complain about large ships and barges are like people who buy houses near airports and then complain about planes.

“These people bought, developed these properties over the past hundred years while the Hudson has been an active commercially navigational channel,” he said. “… Where do people think these tugs and barges have been anchoring all this time?”

Kelly said the 10 sites chosen for large vessels to stop during their journeys already are used as informal anchorage spots. He said the vessels that stop at the sites often do so out of safety concerns due to such factors as ice and fog.  Read more.

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Gateway Chamber of Commerce calls plan to station oil barges in Hudson ‘ill-conceived’ and ‘unfathomable’

Gateway Chamber of Commerce calls plan to station oil barges in Hudson ‘ill-conceived’ and ‘unfathomable’

Peekskill Post: Deb Milone, executive director of the Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber of Commerce, released a statement Friday afternoon on the proposed commercial anchorages in the Hudson River.  Her statement is as follows:

“The Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber of Commerce adamantly opposes the proposed Hudson River commercial anchorages from Yonkers to Kingston.

Besides the obvious environmental and safety concerns, the barges would be a visual pollutant to our historic river at a time when we are positioning ourselves as a tourist destination.

The river is an important economic generator for local businesses in the Hudson Valley.  Communities with river access and vistas promote the waterfront as a place to take in the breathtaking panoramic views of this majestic waterway. The river also serves as a recreational resource for residents and visitors alike, which fuels the local boating and water sport industries.

The Hudson is the centerpiece of our tourism efforts, and attracts people from all over the world. Those tourist dollars benefit our hospitality, food and beverage industries as well as other businesses that rely on visitors to survive.  

In 2012, visitors spent $4.75 billion in the Hudson River Valley, creating over 81,000 direct jobs and generating $318 million in local taxes benefiting small towns as well as larger cities. The Hudson Valley is ranked No. 2 by Lonely Planet in its Top 10 Travel Destinations Worldwide.

Mariners have been navigating the Hudson River for four hundred years without the need for anchor barges. This ill-conceived concept by people who don’t even live here is unfathomable at a time when the Hudson and its shoreline communities are making a comeback. 

On behalf of our nearly 500 member businesses: Please consider the economic, environmental, safety and aesthetic impact this will have on our business and residential communities.”

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County Officials Slam Proposal for New Anchorages Throughout Hudson River

County Officials Slam Proposal for New Anchorages Throughout Hudson River

Time Warner News: Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro is opposing a U.S. Coast Guard plan to add as many as 10 anchorage sites to the Hudson River.

“Using the Hudson River as a barge parking lot, really, can lead to significant environmental threats,” Molinaro said, “[to] safety for having hundreds of thousands of gallons of crude oil on the Hudson River. What steps will be made to mitigate the environmental and safety risks, and then also the impact to tourism and recreational use and cultural use of the Hudson River?”

Officials are investigating locations from Yonkers to Kingston, including Newburgh, Port Ewen and Milton. Coast Guard officials said they’re doing it at the request of companies who use the Hudson River daily.

“They need extra areas to anchor in order to have a safe place for their crews to rest and for emergency repairs, should they have the need of it,” said Coast Guard Public Affairs Officer Charles Rowe.

The Coast Guard is currently accepting public comments on the proposal. But county officials said many residents don’t know about it because the Coast Guard hasn’t done enough to publicize it.

“We are calling on the Coast Guard and federal government to extend the public comment period until the end of the year,” Molinaro said, “to host public hearings so that individuals from throughout the Hudson Valley, communities along the Hudson River, can have an opportunity to voice their concerns.”

But Coast Guard officials said no official decisions will be made in the near future.

“We are simply exploring the possibility; no decision has been made as to whether or not there will be one anchorage or any particular number, nor is there any specified location at this time,” Rowe said. “We’re in the process of seeking public comment upon that possibility.”  Read more and watch a video report.

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Officials Call for Public to Comment on Proposed Hudson River Commercial Anchorages

Officials Call for Public to Comment on Proposed Hudson River Commercial Anchorages

HVNN.com: Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino is asking the public to voice its concerns over the federal government’s plan to allow commercial barges to anchor at points close to the Westchester coastline.

The Coast Guard is considering putting 10 new anchorage grounds in the Hudson River from Yonkers in Westchester County to Kingston in Ulster County.

Requests from the Maritime Association of the Port of NY/NJ Tug and Barge Committee, the Hudson River Port Pilot’s Association and the American Waterways Operators for the new anchoring spots spurred the Coast Guard into formulating plans.

Astorino said the plan would create “a giant parking lot” for commercial vessels close to the shore.

“Once again, it appears that the federal government wants to do what it wants, where it wants, when it wants, and that’s just not OK,” he said.

“There needs to be a process to fully vet this proposal in the most transparent manner possible,” Astorino said.  Read more.

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Officials: Don't make Hudson barge 'parking lot'

Officials: Don’t make Hudson barge ‘parking lot’

lohud.com: (Verplanck) Opposition is growing to a proposal to put as many as 10 commercial shipping anchorages on the Hudson River in space stretching from Yonkers to Kingston.

At a press conference Tuesday at the Cortlandt Waterfront Park, a bevy of local officials demanded the Coast Guard hold public hearings before moving forward with the measure, which would allow commercial boats — including those carrying oil and natural gas — to drop anchor.

“It is absolutely crystal clear the federal government has missed the boat by proposing these new anchorage rules in the Hudson Valley,” said state Sen. Terrence Murphy, R-Yorktown. He listed problems with transparency, the anchored ships creating navigational hazards, potential for environmental disaster and homeland security issues as reasons for opposing it.  Read more.

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Elected Officials Criticize USCG Proposal On Anchorage Sites In The Hudson

Elected Officials Criticize USCG Proposal On Anchorage Sites In The Hudson

WAMC Radio: The U.S. Coast Guard is considering establishing anchorage grounds in the Hudson River from Westchester to Ulster County. But local elected officials and environmentalists criticize the proposal — and what they say is a lack of transparency and public involvement.

From Yonkers to Kingston, the Coast Guard proposes 10 anchorage sites for commercial vessels along the Hudson River. Local elected officials gathered near a boat launch Tuesday at the Hudson River Marine in Verplanck in Westchester County to bring awareness to the proposal they believe the public knows little about. New York state Senator Terrence Murphy says his concern focuses on four issues.

“The number-one concern is the environmental impact that it could possibly have on the Hudson River. This is such a pristine river that we all kind of grew up on, and homeland security,” Murphy says. “This just doesn’t make common sense to put six barges that could possibly be full of oil with the terrorism that’s going on in the world, right next to Indian Point, right next to… This just, I don’t know where they conceived this idea from and why they would have these 10 anchorage spots on the Hudson River.”  Listen here.

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Officials protest additional barge anchorage sites on Hudson

Officials protest additional barge anchorage sites on Hudson

Westchester News 12: Officials and environmentalists are speaking out against a proposal to allow more commercial boats on the Hudson River.

The politicians and environmentalists joined forces Tuesday to raise a red flag about a controversial new plan by the Coast Guard to establish 10 new anchorage sites for barges – the size of football fields –  on the Hudson River from Yonkers to Kingston

The barges could carry any number of chemicals, including crude oil, which is why lawmakers are opposed to it, citing safety, security and environmental concerns

Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano says  the Coast Guard wants to build its largest site, spanning 715 acres from Yonkers to Dobbs Ferry.

The Coast Guard is taking comments on its website, but lawmakers are demanding public hearings so residents can have their say on this controversial matter.  Watch the news report.

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Elected Officials Criticize USCG Proposal On Anchorage Sites In The Hudson

Elected Officials Criticize USCG Proposal On Anchorage Sites In The Hudson

WAMC: The U.S. Coast Guard is considering establishing anchorage grounds in the Hudson River from Westchester to Ulster County. But local elected officials and environmentalists criticize the proposal — and what they say is a lack of transparency and public involvement.

From Yonkers to Kingston, the Coast Guard proposes 10 anchorage sites for commercial vessels along the Hudson River. Local elected officials gathered near a boat launch Tuesday at the Hudson River Marine in Verplanck in Westchester County to bring awareness to the proposal they believe the public knows little about. New York state Senator Terrence Murphy says his concern focuses on four issues.

“The number-one concern is the environmental impact that it could possibly have on the Hudson River. This is such a pristine river that we all kind of grew up on, and homeland security,” Murphy says. “This just doesn’t make common sense to put six barges that could possibly be full of oil with the terrorism that’s going on in the world, right next to Indian Point, right next to… This just, I don’t know where they conceived this idea from and why they would have these 10 anchorage spots on the Hudson River.”  Listen here.

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Cortlandt Asks Public's Help In Battling Barge Anchor Proposals

Cortlandt Asks Public’s Help In Battling Barge Anchor Proposals

Daily Voice: Cortlandt is asking the public to back it in its fight against a proposal to build barge anchorages in the Hudson River.

Supervisor Linda Puglisi said the Town Board voted unanimously last week to formalize its opposition to the U.S. Coast Guard plan.

It has asked the agency to have public hearings on the plan in Cortlandt and it wants residents to weigh in by commenting on the website federalregister.gov.

According to the site , the marine security organization is floating plans for 10 new anchorage grounds from Yonkers to Kingston.

The one that concerns Cortlandt would be a 127-acre site built off Montrose. It would accommodate up to three vessels. There also would be an 98-acre site between Verplanck and Tompkins Cove for another three vessels.

Puglisi said the town is opposed to the plans for several reasons, the main one being is that barge anchors are eyesores. They would, she said, be detrimental to the “visual aesthetics of the Hudson.”  Read more.

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Coast Guard Proposes More Barge Parking Areas

Coast Guard Proposes More Barge Parking Areas

Highlands Current: The U.S. Coast Guard is considering 10 sites for overnight barge parking lots, called anchorage grounds, on the Hudson River between Yonkers and Kingston, including 445 acres between Beacon and Newburgh, an area large enough to berth up to five barges.

There is currently only a single anchorage ground, near Hyde Park, along the 100-mile river stretch from New York City to Albany, which the Coast Guard says raises safety concerns.

“It’s just like driving a big-rig truck, you’re under stress and time is money,” explained Lt. Karen Kutkiewicz, a spokesperson with the First Coast Guard District in Boston. “Companies want to drive through, but that’s not safe. There needs to be a safe place for them to drop the hook for the night and then continue on their voyage. Especially when there’s ice on the river and then it’s an even slower transit.”

Beacon Newburgh anchorageThe ”barge parking lot” on the Hudson between Beacon and Newburgh that is among those proposed by the Coast Guard. Each barge would have a swing radius of about 1,800 feet. (Google Maps)

Although the proposal is at its earliest stage of development, it has drawn concern from municipalities and environmental groups, which have requested public hearings.

“It would certainly be an eyesore for us, as it would affect our viewshed,” said Beacon Councilmember George Mansfield. “It also would affect our access to the river, kayaks, fish habitats, and the levels of noise and light pollution. There’s really no upside in it for us.”

Mansfield said Mayor Randy Casale had sent a written request to the Coast Guard for a public hearing and also was discussing the issue with other mayors.

Although the deadline for a public meeting request was June 30, Kutkiewicz, told The Current there “absolutely” would be public hearings in 2017.  Read more.

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“Long Term” Barge Anchorage Off Beacon’s Dennings Point?

“Long Term” Barge Anchorage Off Beacon’s Dennings Point?

Wigwam: The United States Coast Guard is proposing rules to establish 10 new anchorages in the Hudson River between Yonkers and Kingston. One of the sites proposed is directly off Dennings Point, with three others just south of the Newburgh Beacon Bridge. Currently there is one allowed anchorage on this stretch of the Hudson.

These anchorages do not come without potential issues. It has been demonstrated that the mooring’s ground tackle causes severe scouring of the river bottom, which can disturb fish hatching areas known in some of these locations.

Although fish populations in the river have been decimated in the last 50 years, and commercial fishing has collapsed, there are signs that some species, including endangered sturgeon, may be re-establishing some population.

In terms of disturbance to the human population, it would also allow long term parking for large barges, and there are reports of stadium lighting and loud generators disturbing the peace of the river in places where barges have illegally moored in the past, near Kingston. Some of these barges could also potentially contain crude oil.  Read more.

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Rhinebeck leader decries Coast Guard plan for to use local sites along Hudson River as rest stop for tankers, tugs

Rhinebeck leader decries Coast Guard plan for to use local sites along Hudson River as rest stop for tankers, tugs

Daily Freeman: The town is urging the U.S. Coast Guard to conduct public hearings on plans to establish 10 anchorage locations along the Hudson River that commercial tankers and tugboats would use as rest stops.

Rhinebeck Supervisor Elizabeth Spinzia said during a Town Board meeting Thursday that three of the locations would affect local views of the river that have been cultivated as tourist attractions.

“These are for large commercial ships taking oil back and forth to Albany, and they are long-term mooring points,” said Spinzia, whose town borders the river.

“The issue with these ships is the Coast Guard’s saying it’s a matter of public safety, but they’re commercial oil ships,” she said. “They’d be moored within our viewshed, and there are issues with light pollution and potential oil contamination.”  Read more.

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Coast Guard plans to resume barge anchoring near Rhinecliff

Coast Guard plans to resume barge anchoring near Rhinecliff

Rhinecliff.org: The Coast Guard is planning to add ten locations where commercial vessels can drop anchor on the Hudson River, and three of them are right here in the Rhinecliff area. As reported in lohud.com, the additional anchorages are meant to make river traffic safer and more efficient, but they may also be a source of controversy for the cities, towns, and hamlets along the Hudson.

The Coast Guard will accept written comments on the proposal until September 7, but the deadline for requesting a public meeting is June 30.  The instructions for contacting the Coast Guard are here, and a more detailed description is in the Federal Register, here.  It’s very easy to submit comments online here.

The vessels that anchor in this area are often returning to Albany to pick up crude oil.  A spill would have devastating effects on the environment and local economy.  Even as it is, the barges at anchorage are a serious annoyance.  For safety, the barges are required to maintain bright lights all night long, so they cause visual pollution, and they run generators 24-7, causing noise pollution as well.  They are a constant disturbance to those who live along the river.

Hudson Anchorage Map

The three locations near Rhinecliff are Kingston Flats South, Port Ewen, and Big Rock Point.  That means anyone living along the River from East Kingston down to below Port Ewen, along both shores of the Hudson, are subject to the disturbance and pollution.  The Kingston Flats South anchorage, which would allow for up to three vessels, is also where developers are planning to build a large housing project along the western shore. Read More

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Environmentalists Warn of Spill Risk from Increasing Oil Shipments on Hudson River

Environmentalists Warn of Spill Risk from Increasing Oil Shipments on Hudson River

Insurance Journal: The Hudson River may still become a major corridor for the shipment of thick, tar sands oil from Canada despite moves last year by New York officials that many thought stopped those efforts.At issue is a key air permit needed by an oil terminal in Albany to transfer heavy crude from railcars to barges that would travel down the Hudson and past some of New Jersey’s most densely populated communities on their way to refineries.

Although oil spills by tankers have decreased in recent decades, environmentalists and some local officials say heavy crude represents a significant threat to the Hudson because it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to fully clean up.

Many believed the proposal by Global Partners LP was defeated last year when the New York Department of Environmental Conservation reversed its original approval of the plan after the agency received considerable backlash. But the permit issue is now slowly wending its way through New York courts.

“A lot of people thought it was the end of the story, but it’s really just in a state of limbo,” said Kate Hudson, a lawyer with the advocacy group Hudson Riverkeeper. “It’s still a real threat.”  Read more.

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Coast Guard plan: More barges anchored on Hudson

Coast Guard plan: More barges anchored on Hudson

lohud.com: The Coast Guard is floating the idea of adding more places for commercial vessels to drop anchor on the Hudson River.

10 locations between Yonkers and Kingston have been chosen as potential anchorages, including sites at Tomkins Cove and Montrose.

The Coast Guard is asking for public feedback on the plan, which officials said is meant to make river traffic safer and more efficient.

Commercial vessels such as barges and their attending tug, tow or push boats would be expected to use the anchor sites. Coast Guard officials say that would accommodate a variety of vessels and configurations and would not interfere with areas of the river where boats have historically plied the waters.  Read more.

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Hudson River oil spill would be difficult to clean up

Hudson River oil spill would be difficult to clean up

Daily Freeman: The Hudson River may still become a major corridor for the shipment of thick, tar sands oil from Canada despite moves last year by New York officials that many thought stopped those efforts.

At issue is a key air permit needed by an oil terminal in Albany to transfer heavy crude from railcars to barges that would travel down the Hudson and past some of New Jersey’s most densely populated communities on their way to refineries.

Although oil spills by tankers have decreased in recent decades, environmentalists and some local officials say heavy crude represents a significant threat to the Hudson because it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to fully clean up.

Many believed the proposal by Global Partners LP was defeated last year when the New York Department of Environmental Conservation reversed its original approval of the plan after the agency received considerable backlash. But the permit issue is now slowly wending its way through New York courts.

“A lot of people thought it was the end of the story, but it’s really just in a state of limbo,” said Kate Hudson, a lawyer with the advocacy group Hudson Riverkeeper. “It’s still a real threat.”  Read more.

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Decision on Albany port crude oil heating plan pushed back

Decision on Albany port crude oil heating plan pushed back

Albany Times Union: It looks like the state Department of Environmental Conservation can put off a decision on a long-delayed crude oil plan at the Port of Albany for bit longer.

Facing a court-ordered June 13 deadline to rule on a plan by Massachusetts-based Global Companies to heat crude oil for shipment, DEC obtained a stay in the Appellate Division of state Supreme Court that pushes off the deadline while the state appeals the earlier ruling.

Outside DEC headquarters on Broadway on Tuesday, more than two dozen protesters urged that DEC reject Global’s plan, which calls for a heating plant at the port that opponent fear would allow the company to handle thick Canadian tar sands oil.

Tar sands oil is so thick it must be heated during winter months so it can be pumped from railroad tank cars into land-based storage tanks, and then into barges or tankers on the Hudson River. This type of oil is also called diluted bitumen, or dilbit. Heavier than common crude oil, it sinks in water, making it very difficult to clean up from rivers and other waterbodies. Read more.

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Albany rally targets proposal to bring Canadian tar sands oil over rail lines

Albany rally targets proposal to bring Canadian tar sands oil over rail lines

Kingston Daily Freeman: Oil train opponents rallied Tuesday, calling on the Department of Environmental Conservation to reject a proposal to bring Canadian tar sands oil over rail lines that run through upstate towns and cities and along the Hudson River.

“It would be almost impossible to clean up if it leaked into the Hudson,” said Mark Schaeffer, with 350.org and Citizen Action. “It’s ‘dilbit,’ diluted bitumen, which is not even a liquid at ordinary temperatures. That’s why they need to heat it, so it can flow enough to load it on barges. Tar sands is a very, very low-grade fossil fuel.”

In the event of an accident involving trains or barges, the oil would sink to the bottom of the river, making cleanup very difficult, he added.

The rail lines run north and south along the Hudson and on the west side of Lake Champlain, as well as east and west through the Mohawk Valley and western New York. Trains offload the oil to large ships docked at the Port of Albany, then head down the Hudson River. Billions of gallons of crude oil moving through the port annually.  Read more.

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Broad coalition challenges Clean Air violations at Albany crude-by-rail terminal

Broad coalition challenges Clean Air violations at Albany crude-by-rail terminal

Earthjustice: A broad coalition consisting of the County of Albany, a tenants association, and several environmental groups filed a lawsuit today in federal court charging that a major crude-by-rail conglomerate is operating in violation of the Clean Air Act.

The Global facility is located in Albany’s South End, which is home to residences, schools, churches, businesses, and social service agencies.

The lawsuit claims that Global Companies failed to obtain a required air pollution permit and institute necessary pollution controls when it modified its Albany, New York facility in 2012 to allow a five-fold increase in the amount of crude oil handled at the facility. The lawsuit also claims that Global has violated a permit issued by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation by handling crude oil from the Bakken region of North Dakota, which emits more air pollutants than conventional crude oil. The lawsuit seeks an injunction requiring the company to apply for the required air pollution permit and prohibiting the facility from handling Bakken crude oil, and asks for fines of $37,500 for each day that Global has operated in violation of the Clean Air Act.

The Global facility is located in Albany’s South End, which is home to residences, schools, churches, businesses, and social service agencies. The facility is directly adjacent to Ezra Prentice Homes, which has approximately 400 residents, including over 200 children. Albany’s South End has been designated an “environmental justice area” by DEC, meaning that it is an area that bears a disproportionate impact of adverse environmental impacts.

“The families who live at the Ezra Prentice Homes should not have to be exposed to hazardous air pollution from Global’s operations,” said Charlene Benton, president of the Ezra Prentice Homes Tenants Association. “The polluted air makes us sick and that’s just not right. We are going to court today to be granted the basic right to breathe clean air.”  Read more.

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New York Says "Not So Fast" to Tar Sands Facility on the Hudson River

New York Says “Not So Fast” to Tar Sands Facility on the Hudson River

NRDC: In a stunning and laudable reversal, New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has required Global Partners’ Port of Albany air permit application to undergo a full environmental review. Global’s air permit application is part of its plans to retrofit its existing Port of Albany crude-by-rail facility to allow it to begin handling tar sands crude oil from Alberta, Canada. The tar sands retrofit would require Global to install seven boilers that would be used to keep the tar sands warm as it is moved from rail cars into storage tanks. Eventually, this oil would be loaded onto barges and shipped down the Hudson River, destined for refineries in New Jersey, Delaware, and the Gulf Coast. Following receipt of 19,000 public comments and concerns from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, DEC has reversed its November 2013 finding that Global’s proposed project would “not have a significant environmental impact.” As one of the world’s most carbon-intensive crude oils whose production is laying waste to Alberta’s boreal forest, the DEC’s November 2013 finding flew in the face of what is known about the environmental impacts of adding tar sands oil to our fuel mix. What’s worse, infrastructure like Global’s proposed modifications would lock the region into at least 50 years of tar sands transport and use at a time when the region needs to transition to cleaner fuels, especially for transportation. Moving forward, DEC must seriously consider the cumulative and long-term impacts of approving this project on both Albany and the broader region.  Read more.

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A risky cargo on the Hudson River

A risky cargo on the Hudson River

New York World: A pair of oil barges idling at the Port of Albany loomed over the waterfront recently, dwarfing two tugboats and a flock of seagulls that floated by on the Hudson River.

The barges, both 116 feet long and tethered to tugboats, were preparing for their trip south on the river, laden with oil. The tugboats that would guide them — the Dean Reinauer and the Reinauer Twins — are two of 14 tugboats that ferried crude oil barges down the Hudson River last year, according to ClipperData, a company that tracks the shipping industry.

It’s the last leg of a journey that began in the Bakken Shale Formation of North Dakota, where a recent oil boom has transformed the once-sleepy Port of Albany into a major transportation hub for domestic crude oil.While fiery train derailments across the U.S. and Canada have drawn New Yorkers’ attention to the dangers of transporting crude oil by rail, there has been much less focus on the potential dangers of shipping oil down the Hudson River by barge. But some environmentalists worry that a crude oil spill would wreak havoc on a river that has recovered well after enduring decades of industrial pollution that nearly destroyed it.

In addition, safety regulations governing tugboats have not been renewed despite a decade-old congressional directive; and the U.S. Coast Guard’s spill-response plans for the Hudson River were not updated after oil shipments began swelling four years ago.

“Everyone points to barge traffic as potentially having the most immediate catastrophic impact,” said Roger Downs, a director at the Sierra Club in Albany who has spent most of his life living by the river and working to revive it.  Read more.

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U.S. barge operators transport domestic crude on inland rivers

U.S. barge operators transport domestic crude on inland rivers

Professional Mariner: Until two years ago, the southerly movement of crude oil by barge between the Midwest and the Gulf Coast was almost nonexistent.

As a result of a boom in domestic oil production — particularly in the Bakken Shale formation that stretches from western North Dakota into Montana and Canada — tug and barge companies have jumped into the “black gold” rush and experienced unprecedented growth.

Kirby Corp., the industry’s largest company, was the first to receive public attention for loading crude onto barges in 2012 and transporting it south to refineries in the lower Mississippi and the Gulf Coast. Kirby said 7 percent of its inland business is crude, as of the second quarter of 2014. Other companies have stepped forward to claim a piece of the business.

“For many, many decades, crude oil movement in this country has been south to north,” said Darrell Conner, a government affairs counselor and transportation and trade expert for K&L Gates, an international law firm. “Now it is reversed. It’s moving north to south. The same thing has happened in the tug industry.”

Matt Woodruff, Kirby’s director of government affairs and general counsel to the Inland Waterways Users Board, agreed.

“Oil is moving in a different direction; so is gas. What we’re seeing as a result of the shale plays is a renaissance of sorts,” he said. “Supply is coming from nontraditional sources and putting stresses on all modes of transportation to get the product to market.”

Data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows that stress, and the reason the tug and barge industry experienced such growth: In 2008, about 3.9 million barrels of crude were moved by barge from the Midwest to the Gulf Coast; in 2013, that number jumped to 46.7 million barrels.  Read more.

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Bayway refinery in Linden, N.J

Global Partners ends plan to ship more oil down Hudson River

NorthJersey.com: The amount of oil being shipped down the Hudson River may not increase as significantly as expected after a company pulled plans to transfer crude from trains to barges at a facility 50 miles north of the George Washington Bridge.

In a letter to New York environmental officials, Global Partners withdrew its permit applications to redevelop a former shipyard in Orange County into a rail transfer station so it could increase the amount of crude it sends down the Hudson to refineries.

Global already transports more than 3 million gallons of crude each day by barge from its terminal in Albany down the Hudson to the Bayway Refinery in Linden.

The company gave no reason for its withdrawal in its letter, and a company spokesman did not return a phone call Tuesday seeking comment.

Environmentalists, who say the oil shipments are a threat to the recovering waterway, greeted the news with cautious optimism.

“It’s certainly a good thing that these permit applications were withdrawn,” said Kate Hudson, a program director for Hudson Riverkeeper.

“What we don’t know is why. Is this a strategic move? How permanent is this?”

Read more.

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The Record: Oil on the Hudson

The Record: Oil on the Hudson

NorthJersey.com: THE SAD, environment-altering saga of the Exxon Valdez was written off the Alaskan coast 25 years ago. The tanker struck a reef in Prince William Sound and spilled millions of gallons of oil into the water, creating an environmental nightmare that took years to clean up. Who knows for sure whether another Exxon Valdez could happen on the Hudson River, but it is something to think about these days as the waterway is busy becoming a vital commerce route for domestic crude oil shipments.

As Staff Writer Scott Fallon reports, as much as 25 million gallons of crude oil per week is now making its way down the Hudson via oil tankers and barges. The steady clip of oil in the last few years mostly originates from the oil boom in North Dakota. It is transported by rail to Albany, N.Y., and then pumped onto several barges and a tanker that travels 145 miles down the Hudson, past Manhattan and through New York Harbor and on eventually to refineries in New Jersey and Canada.

We understand that the shipping of this oil has a great potential for the region’s economy. Oil executives say the crude shipments will help stir a still-moribund upstate New York economy, could revitalize refineries along the East Coast and eventually will bring down the price of gas.

Yet, as anyone old enough to remember the Exxon Valdez disaster can attest, it takes only one large-scale accident to make a catastrophic environmental event. As The Record reports, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration approved the rapid expansion of crude oil processing in Albany and is now calling for development of better emergency response plans in the case of spills.  Read more.

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