MarineLink: In June 2016, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) opened a public comment period regarding new anchorage zones in the Hudson River; usually a rather low-key set of issues. This proved different. Opponents jumped on the proposal – initially suggested by three maritime organizations – as a backdoor way to facilitate a huge expansion in crude oil shipments on the Hudson.
Bonner R. Cohen, Ph.D., a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research, has an editorial on the website of the Heartland Institute expressing opposition to recent “legislation that could limit or even bar oil tankers traversing the Hudson River from storing petroleum at anchorages along the river.”
Cohen’s piece quotes Jordan McGillis, a policy analyst with the Institute for Energy Research, who says the new tanker rule is just the latest in a series of anti-energy measures Cuomo has supported.
“New York’s new tanker law is just the latest in a litany of anti-energy measures enacted under the governorship of Andrew Cuomo,” said McGillis. “When combined with the fact Cuomo has prevented the building of pipelines—the safest means we have to transport oil and natural gas—this tanker measure seems all the more nonsensical.
“Cuomo’s hostility to oil and natural gas hampers business and dims the economic prospects of his state, often—as in the case of the Clean Energy Standard—for little or no environmental benefit,” McGillis said.
Cohen also notes Craig Rucker, executive director of the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), who says laws restricting the development, transport, and use of fossil fuels have an adverse effect on the poor and are unsustainable.
The Heartland Institute describes itself as “one of the world’s leading free-market think tanks,” and the National Center for Public Policy Research “is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems.” Read Cohen’s editorial here.
Environmentalists urge DEC to establish strong regulations for “Tanker Avoidance Zones” to protect Hudson from oil barges
Thirty-five local groups have signed on to a letter to Basil Seggos, Commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, urging him to establish strong regulations for “Tanker Avoidance Zones” to protect the Hudson River from oil barges.
The letter was drafted by Scenic Hudson, Food & Water Watch, Riverkeeper, and the Natural Resources Defense Council. It is signed by individuals representing environmental organizations, recreational clubs, faith-based groups, and political associations.
“It remains a top priority of our organizations to prevent the development of new anchorage grounds in the Hudson River from being sited at locations where they pose a clear and direct threat to the environment, quality of life, and regional economic development goals of the Hudson Valley,” states the letter. “We are eager to support a rulemaking process that results in regulations that will accomplish this.”
The complete letter reads as follows:Read More
Poughkeepsie Journal Editorial: When defenders of the Hudson River first heard the U.S. Coast Guard was considering designating as many as 10 commercial shipping anchorages on the river, they were rightly appalled and aghast – but they also were taken by surprise.
It was hard to imagine the government would sanction the odious notion of turning parts of the river into “a barge parking lot,” where the potential for more oil spills, contamination of municipal water sources, negative impacts on tourism and interference with recreational boating are all definite threats.
The federal agency had been considering an industry-backed scheme to designate these anchorages, including places in Kingston, Milton, Newburgh and Port Ewen.
Fortunately, the public, led by the area’s environmental groups, rallied. They stood up against the plan. They signed petitions.
In fact, they flooded the U.S. Coast Guard with more than 10,000 comments (the most it has ever has received regarding a proposal) and resoundingly rejected the suggestion. The reaction was so rich and intense that the Coast Guard opted to suspend the process and pull back to do a more comprehensive safety assessment of the river. Officially, this is called the U.S. Coast Guard’s Hudson River Ports and Waterway Safety Assessment, or PAWSA.
The state came through as well, with Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently signing legislation creating “tanker avoided zones” aimed at preventing anchorages from being located where they would pose a direct threat to the environment or would run counter to the economic development goals of neighboring communities.
Yet these matters are far from settled. The Coast Guard has not ruled out proposing new anchorages, which is why it is vital for environmental groups and others to stay engaged and offer solutions. To that end, Riverkeeper, Scenic Hudson and Hudson River Sloop Clearwater all recommend initiatives to better protect the Hudson River. They don’t just include limiting where barges and tankers can anchor, they also involve increasing captains’ and pilots’ access to tide, current and fog conditions. They also include pushing for more resources to ensure a quick response to oil spills and enhancing boater safety education.
While the shipping industry argues the anchorages are necessary to safely transport cargo, others see different motives.
On the federal level, U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-Cold Spring, has been a vocal critic of the possible proliferation of anchorage designations. In a recent editorial board meeting with the Poughkeepsie Journal, the congressman stressed that the Coast Guard must not allow industry to have “permanent crude oil storage on the river.” Read more.
Hudson Valley News Network: On Monday, Representative Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18), Representative Eliot Engel (NY-16) and local stakeholders reaffirmed their commitment to stopping any Coast Guard proposals that include long-term anchorage sites for the Hudson River.
This followed a series of comprehensive workshops hosted by the Coast Guard that assessed safety on the Hudson River, including the potential need for new anchorage proposals. The group of officials also lauded the Coast Guard’s Ports and Waterways Safety Assessment (PAWSA) for its inclusion of local concerns.
“I’m happy to talk about improving safety measures for barge operators on the river – if a barge is caught in a serious storm, it should absolutely be able to pull over to protect the crew and the river,” said Rep. Maloney. “But there is no way I’ll entertain the possibility of any long-term anchorage sites. They’re not necessary for anyone’s safety and they’re a huge risk to the river and our local communities.”
“From day one my colleagues and I have said this anchorage proposal was a bad idea,” said Congressman Eliot Engel. “The impact it could have, not just on the river but on the communities that line the river like Yonkers and Hastings, might be severe. As such, we have opposed the Coast Guard’s plan every step of the way and will continue to do so as the PAWSA process moves forward. So far we have been successful in delaying this bad idea, but we can’t let up. Congressman Maloney and I will continue to look for ways to help preserve and protect our shoreline communities at the federal level, and I am proud to have partners at the local level like Mayor Spano who are also fighting vigorously against this plan.” Read more.
WAMC: Two Democratic New York Congressmen and local stakeholders stood at the Yonkers waterfront Monday afternoon to talk about potential anchorage proposals for the Hudson River. Though they praised a U.S. Coast Guard study, the lawmakers and environmentalists also made it clear they are doubling down on opposition to any long-term anchorage sites in future proposals.
The directed study came after the Coast Guard suspended the rulemaking process for a proposal of up to 10 additional anchorage sites from Westchester to Ulster County. Two workshops took place in November — one in Poughkeepsie, one in Albany — as part of this study on safety along the river. The study is part of the Coast Guard’s PAWSA process, or Ports and Waterways Safety Assessment. Congressman Eliot Engel’s 16th House District includes Yonkers.
“The days when agencies and decisions can run roughshod over communities is over, and we’re not going to stand for it, certainly not those of us that represent Yonkers, Hastings or other communities up and down the water. So we’re going to continue to fight this. This is something that, whose time has not come, should not come and should never come,” Engel says. “And I will pledge to continue to oppose this, and we won’t stop till we win.” Read more.
westchester.news12: Activists gathered with federal and local politicians at the Yonkers waterfront Monday amid growing concerns that the Coast Guard could come up with a new plan to install additional anchorage sites on the Hudson River.
The Coast Guard had said that additional barges would allow for increased shipping of crude oil down the Hudson River from the Port of Albany, but it backed off after receiving more than 10,000 letters from local residents fearful of the possibility of oil spills and other accidents on the Hudson.
Activists and lawmakers worry that there is still a proposal out there lurking in the background.
“It serves notice on them that we are monitoring and watching them very carefully, and just the way we didn’t stand for their proposal before, if they put forward another egregious proposal, we will fight them again,” said Rep. Eliot Engel.
Officials say it’s not clear that new barges are in a new proposal from the Coast Guard. It is expected to be released in a few months. Watch the news report.
Kingston Daily Freeman: Shipping industry officials and environmental advocates alike are praising the U.S. Coast Guard’s process for updating rules for use of the Hudson River.
However, following two workshops to provide suggestions on the proposed rules, both sides remain far apart in their positions on whether 10 new anchorages for large commercial vessels should be established along the river from Yonkers to Kingston and Rhinebeck.
Edward Kelly, executive director of the Maritime Association of the Port of New York/New Jersey, said having 74 participants from 62 industry groups, environmental organizations, municipalities, governmental departments, and lawmakers’ offices has helped promote an understanding of the needs of all river users.
“I think it did bring out a lot of very good information about the current risk and physical status of the river, some of the mitigations that are out there, and it did give an opportunity to dispel a lot of misconceptions and lack of knowledge that we have been constantly battling against in this whole anchorage proposal,” he said.
Even so, he said, “We are still distressed that there has been no significant action taken to proceed to designate federal anchorages on the Hudson River. At the conclusion of the Albany PAWSA (Ports and Waterways Safety Assessment), Coast Guard District 1 said they have suspended the advanced notice of proposed rule making. We’re still trying to figure out what that means.”
The environmental groups Riverkeeper and Scenic Hudson, in a joint press release, also lauded the Coast Guard for giving them an chance to discuss a wide range of alternatives to anchorages.
“We proposed alternatives that would enhance navigation and environmental safety without new anchorages,” Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan said. “These include enhanced communication and access to real-time weather and navigation conditions, reduction of the hours maritime professionals work without rest, and more rapid deployment of spill response resources.” Read more.
Poughkeepsie Journal: Environmental groups are recommending a variety of safety initiatives to further protect the Hudson River, including limiting where barges and tankers can anchor on the Hudson.
Recommendations from Riverkeeper, Scenic Hudson and Hudson River Sloop Clearwater include further traffic management and control of vessels, stepping up oil spill response, increasing captains’ and pilots’ access to tide, current and fog conditions, and launching a Harbor Safety Committee for the Hudson River.
The groups made the recommendations during a series of safety workshops organized earlier this month by the U.S. Coast Guard.
John Lipscomb, the boat captain for Riverkeeper, said recommendations from the environmental groups, included:
- Extend the Vessel Traffic Service, which coordinates large commercial vessel movements up to the Holland Tunnel, up to Albany.
- Enhance the Automatic Identification System, which allows vessels to broadcast through their radios, to be broadcast via satellite throughout the entire river.
- Enhance the boater safety education with a focus on small recreational boats, to help avoid crashes between large commercial vessels and small boats.
- Expand the Harbor Safety Committee, which is currently limited to New York Harbor, to stakeholders on the Hudson from New York City up to Albany.
- Allow large vessels to have access to the cameras on the bridges. “If they could look ahead and see if there is fog they can be better prepared to handle those conditions,” said Lipscomb, who has been patrolling the Hudson River for 17 years. Read more.
River groups offer navigation safety measures for Hudson, cite risks from barge anchorages proposed by industry
Scenic Hudson & Riverkeeper: After taking part in the U.S. Coast Guard’s Hudson River Ports and Waterway Safety Assessment (PAWSA) workshops, Scenic Hudson and Riverkeeper praised the Coast Guard for holding the meetings and reiterated their continued opposition to any official designation of new anchorages—a request by industry that remains under consideration. The anchorages would be for industrial barges that could carry oil and other hazardous chemicals. During a series of November workshops in Poughkeepsie and Albany, Scenic Hudson and Riverkeeper presented data showing that new anchorages are not needed and highlighted alternative strategies that could make the Hudson River safer for navigation and environmental protection without requiring additional anchorages.
Among the actions Scenic Hudson and Riverkeeper proposed during the workshops were improving vessel traffic management and control, increasing oil spill response capability, enhancing Captains’ and Pilots’ access to tide, current and fog conditions and creating a Harbor Safety Committee for the Hudson River. These recommendations would enhance navigational safety without compromising environmental and community interests, and were generally well-received by the workshop participants. Professional mariners, industry representatives, environmental groups, municipalities and recreational boaters broadly acknowledged that there is no need for “long-term” anchoring on the Hudson, thus narrowing the issue to the question of whether the Coast Guard should propose designation of areas where only shorter-term anchoring would be permitted. Scenic Hudson and Riverkeeper are committed to measures that will ensure and increase navigational safety and environmental protection without requiring new anchorages. Read more.
Times Union: The U.S. Coast Guard will hold two days of closed-door discussions in Albany this week on a vision for the future of the Hudson River.
Last week, the agency held two days of meetings in Poughkeepsie as part of the work on a Ports and Waterways Assessment, which is meant to examine potential solutions to transportation risks on the river.
The planning started after the Coast Guard earlier this year shelved a request by river shippers to approve 43 new anchorages for use by crude oil barges. This drew opposition from New York state officials, as well as local government leaders and environmental groups.
Last week, Rear Admiral Steven Poulin call the assessment a “process that allows us to take a really close look at risks – navigational and environmental risks – associated with a particular waterway and it helps us inform and give us a better understanding of what those risks are and how we may mitigate those risks,” according to a report by the Mid-Hudson News Network.
The sessions were invitation-only from the Coast Guard, and are not open to the general public or the media, said Chief Warrant Officer Allyson Conroy.
Groups taking part in the workshops include the Hudson River Pilots, Hudson River Waterfront Allliance, Sierra Club, Tug and Barge Committee of New York/New Jersey, state Department of Environmental Conservation, Riverkeeper, Scenic Hudson, McAllister Towing, Pace University, and Samalot Marine. Read more.
midhudsonnews.com: The Coast Guard’s Hudson River Ports and Waterways Safety Assessment (PAWSA) workshop began its two-day session in Poughkeepsie on Tuesday.
The process was borne out of the earlier consideration of approving 43 new barge anchorages on the river between Yonkers and Kingston, but it will go beyond that, said Rear Admiral Steven Poulin.
“It is a process that allows us to take a really close look at risks – navigational and environmental risks – associated with a particular waterway and it helps us inform and give us a better understanding of what those risks are and how we may mitigate those risks,” he said.
Following a news conference, the media allowed to stay for the workshop’s opening remarks prior to the remainder of the sessions, which were held behind closed door with over 40 participating stakeholders and a dozen municipal leader and resident observers.
One of the stakeholders, Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan, questioned the makeup of the workshop participants implying that 60 percent of the stakeholders are from the marine commerce industry that would benefit from additional anchorages. In response, Poulin said that “nobody’s views would be discounted” and the reason for the unusually large group of participants is so that the Coast Guard can be made aware of all factors that could affect the safety of vessels and the river as a whole.
Other stakeholders in Poughkeepsie include Riverkeeper, Pace University, Hudson River Pilots, Hudson River Waterfront Alliance, and Tug and Pilots Council of New York and New Jersey. Read more.
Kingston Daily Freeman: The U.S. Coast Guard on Tuesday began a four-day series of workshops that it says is intended to bring 21st-century rules to the Hudson River.
The Ports and Waterways Safety Assessment, or PAWSA, process is being carried out by 41 participants representing nearly three dozen governmental, commercial, municipal and environmental groups.
Included are six recreation groups, six shipping industry groups, four environmental watchdog organizations, five municipal organizations, two universities, three state agencies and three federal agencies.
Coast Guard Rear Adm. Steven Poulin stressed that the process “is not simply about anchorages,” a reference to a controversial proposal to let large vessels, such as barges and oil tankers, drop anchor at 10 locations on the river between Kingston and Yonkers.
“Yes, that will be one part of it, but this PAWSA is an opportunity for us to talk more comprehensively about all the associated risks” of Hudson River uses, Poulin said at a Tuesday morning press conference in Poughkeepsie.
Poulin said use of the river has grown to include a wide variety of recreational activities.
“The Hudson River is a national treasure and because people love to get on it, recreate and use it … but with that comes greater congestion,” he said.
“This isn’t just about tank barges on the Hudson River,” Poulin said. “This is our attempt to try to get a better understanding of all the risks associated with waterways uses. … What are the risks to passenger vessels from more congestion? What are the risks to passenger vessels and recreational vessels from Jet Skis, kayakers, paddle boarders?” Read more.
Kingston Daily Freeman: U.S. Coast Guard officials will meet Tuesday and Wednesday with about 45 representatives from environmental groups, municipalities and the shipping industry to begin determining what factors should be considered for siting large-vessel anchorage grounds on the Hudson River.
The meetings will be at the Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel in Poughkeepsie and will be open only to invitees.
Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer Allyson Conroy said the meetings will focus on technical information that should go into a Hudson River Ports and Waterways Safety Assessment process and therefore are limited to stakeholders who have significant nautical and environmental knowledge.
Next week’s meetings are being held in the wake of Coast Guard deciding in June to suspend its review of a proposal for 10 new anchorage grounds on the river between Kingston and Yonkers. The Guard said at the time that the Ports and Waterways Safety Assessment would be 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.”
Conroy said representatives from eight municipalities will attend the meetings as observers.
Town of Rhinebeck Supervisor Elizabeth Spinzia said one individual will represent Mid-Hudson municipalities that draw water from the river. Among those communities are the towns of Esopus, Lloyd and Hyde Park and the city of Poughkeepsie.
Spinzia said rules governing anchorage grounds on the Hudson River must go beyond the highly technical issues of fish migration and impacts on navigation; that how nautical activity affects life on land also must be considered
“There’s the viewshed, there’s visual pollution, there’s light pollution, there’s noise pollution,” she said. “There’s limitless damage that can be caused by this.”
John Lipscomb, a boat captain for the environmental protection group Riverkeeper, lauded the Coast Guard for bringing a wide range of experts into the rule-making process.
“This is a very rigid, structured conversation, and things that are going to be considered are things like vessel conditions, traffic conditions, navigational conditions, waterway conditions, immediate consequences of an accident, and subsequent consequences of an accident,” he said. Read more.
Scenic Hudson: Many of you were among the 10,000 citizen advocates who told the U.S. Coast Guard to drop its proposal to create 10 new anchorage sites for 43 huge barges carrying crude oil and other poisonous chemicals. This voice of the people has helped create some important victories—but we still have work to do to protect our river, wildlife, natural resources, community assets and local economies.
Progress that demands follow-up actions
The Coast Guard in June temporarily suspended its process to establish the anchorages so it can study measures to make the Hudson safe for industrial barge transportation and whether there is a need for new anchorages. We’ll stand up for your interests during this review and will alert you if there’s action you can take to help the cause.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state legislators—led by Sen. Sue Serino and Assemblymember Didi Barrett—recently passed a law that calls on the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to create regulations that would safeguard the Hudson River and communities from industrial barges carrying petroleum products. Scenic Hudson will be urging the DEC to create strong measures that would prevent new anchorages in locations that could threaten the beauty and outdoor treasures that make the Hudson Valley a great place to live, work and play. Read more.
Mayor Michael Spano of Yonkers is asking the US Coast Guard to reconsider its selection of local municipal stakeholders at its upcoming Hudson River Ports and Waterways Safety Assessment workshops this month.
The process is an opportunity for stakeholders, including municipalities in the Hudson River Watershed Alliance, to evaluate safety hazards, potential mitigation measures and their impacts concerning the proposal to add 43 new barge anchorages on the river from Yonkers to Kingston.
Of the 45 participants selected for the workshops, only three municipalities were selected – Hastings-on-Hudson, Tarrytown and Croton-on-Hudson.
“Excluding representatives of local riverfront communities as well as maritime experts, and prohibiting access to the list of invited participates to the PAWSA workshops, undermines the entire PAWSA process and puts into question the motive and integrity of the USCG in conducting a comprehensive, balanced and transparent assessment of risks on the Hudson,” said Spano. “The people of our communities deserve direct local representation in any public process such as this in which the outcome could impact their local natural resources and quality of life.”
The Hudson River Watershed Alliance includes communities along the river from Yonkers to Kingston. Read more.
Poughkeepsie Journal Editorial: After too many fits and starts, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other state lawmakers have momentum on their side in protecting the Hudson River from great harm. It’s essential they stay on top of the push for a cleaner river. The governor took a brisk step recently by signing legislation aimed at beating back attempts to designate as many as 10 commercial shipping anchorages on the river.
If not challenged, this idea could clutter the river with huge vessels carrying volatile materials, such as crude oil, and dropping anchor near vulnerable riverside communities. There is no way government regulators should allow such risks of damaging spills — and the possibility that municipal water sources could get contaminated.
The federal agency had been considering an industry-backed scheme to designate these anchorages, including places in Kingston, Milton, Newburgh and Port Ewen. Currently, only one seasonal anchorage ground exists on the Hudson River from Yonkers to Kingston,
While the U.S. Coast Guard has backed off this industry-sought plan, it is nevertheless conducting a safety assessment of the river. It has not ruled out proposing new anchorages. This is a critically important point. This fight is not nearly over. Vigilance is required. And the state has empowered itself by setting conditions and rules under which such vessels may enter and use the river. Read more.
Kingston Daily Freeman: Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday singed legislation that requires state-level study of any plans for large-vessel anchorage grounds on the Hudson River.
Environmental advocates cheered the action, which came about four months after the U.S. Coast Guard shelved, but didn’t outright kill, its controversial plan to create 10 anchorage grounds for oil tankers and other large vessels on the river between Kingston and Yonkers.
The bill Cuomo signed Tuesday was approved by the state Legislature in July (93-2 in the Assembly and 61-1 in the Senate). It amends an existing law that lets the state Department of Environmental Conservation work with the Department of State and the Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to set “conditions for petroleum-bearing vessels to enter or move upon navigable waters of the state, as well as ‘tanker avoidance zones’” on the lower Hudson River.
“Governor Cuomo has taken bold and decisive action by signing into law legislation that protects the Hudson River from barges and tanker ships that carry dangerous petroleum-based products and other hazardous materials,” Ned Hudson, president of the environmental group Scenic Hudson, said Tuesday in a statement emailed to the media. Read more.
WAMC: A new law allows New York state to create guidelines that will restrict where oil tankers can anchor on the Hudson River.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed legislation that lets the state establish guidelines for “tanker avoidance zones.” The Democrat says the new law protects the river’s ecosystem as well as residents who live along the Hudson’s banks.
The legislation was introduced after the U.S. Coast Guard proposed to allow petroleum-bearing vessels traveling between Albany and New York City to anchor at 10 locations. Shipping industry officials sought the new anchorage sites for vessels required to wait for weather improvement, icebreaking or other voyage factors.
The proposal prompted opposition from thousands of Hudson Valley residents who feared the plan would pose safety problems as well as threaten the environment and spoil scenic river views. Listen here.
Assemblymember Didi Barrett’s (D – Columbia, Dutchess) legislation asserting the state’s authority over the Hudson River by expanding the criteria used to establish “tanker avoidance zones” beyond existing navigational standards was signed into law today by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. As a result of the legislation, which was sponsored by Senator Sue Serino (R – Hyde Park) in the State Senate, the prospect of a massive expansion of crude oil shipments along the Hudson River will be greatly diminished, thereby safeguarding riverfront communities, drinking water supplies, and significant wildlife habitats. Today’s announcement is a milestone for the future health of the Hudson River and a victory for all those who opposed the U.S. Coast Guard’s proposal to allow large increases in petroleum vessel traffic along a 91-mile stretch between Kingston, Ulster County and Yonkers, Westchester County.
“With this law now in place, the state is in a much stronger position to keep future anchorages from being sited anywhere along the Hudson River. An increase in petroleum tankers would pose a direct threat to coastal fish and wildlife, local drinking water, the safety of waterfront communities, and economic development in our beautiful region,” said Assemblymember Barrett. “This is truly a victory for everyone who voiced their opposition to the Coast Guard’s ill-advised proposal. I thank Scenic Hudson for its partnership and commend the Governor for signing this significant measure to further protect the Hudson River.”
While the U.S. Coast Guard has since announced the suspension of its controversial anchorage proposal, New York State’s role in keeping appropriate safeguards in place to protect the Hudson River has never been more important. Known as America’s River, the Hudson is both an iconic piece of New York State’s rich history and a vital economic, recreational, natural and cultural resource for millions of people who live, work and enjoy it today; these are the most compelling reasons to keep it protected. Widespread opposition to the Coast Guard’s proposal from residents, environmental groups and waterfront municipalities resulted in the adoption of over 40 resolutions and endorsements of A.6825A/S.5197B by impacted communities.
“This is a major victory for our local communities, our local environment and the Hudson River,” said Senator Sue Serino. “We asked residents to step up and make their voices heard on this important issue and the community responded in full force, ensuring that the state will have the power to better protect one of our area’s greatest natural resources. I thank the Governor for recognizing the importance of protecting the significant investments our communities have made by signing this important legislation and I am grateful for all of those – especially Scenic Hudson – who took the time to help us tackle this issue head on.”
“Governor Cuomo has taken bold and decisive action by signing into law legislation that protects the Hudson River from barges and tanker ships that carry dangerous petroleum-based products and other hazardous material,” said Ned Sullivan, President, Scenic Hudson. “This legislation was borne from a tidal wave of civic engagement along the river. Assemblywoman Didi Barrett and Senator Sue Serino responded to public concern in working with fellow legislators to pass this bill with near unanimous bipartisan support in both houses. Now, we call on the Department of Environmental Conservation to do its part by issuing regulations to protect the Hudson River and the natural and community resources of the region.”
Since the federal ban on exports of domestic crude oil was lifted by Congress in December 2015, New York has had an increased responsibility to assert its concurrent jurisdiction over the navigable waterways of the state. The anchorages law does just that. The Coast Guard’s plan, while suspended, is not gone; the Coast Guard has announced it will conduct a Ports and Waterways Safety Assessment (PAWSA) on the Hudson River to identify and evaluate the risks of the proposal and allow waterway stakeholders an opportunity to be part of that process. Additional information about a PAWSA and the entire process can be found at the Coast Guard Navigation Center website: https://www.navcen.uscg.gov/
Food & Water Watch: Today, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law groundbreaking legislation to protect the Hudson River from barges carrying fracked oil.
The bill was introduced in response to a proposal by the tug and barge industry to add 43 additional anchorages for oil barges on the river, stretching from Yonkers to Kingston.
“Governor Cuomo has taken another bold move to place the interests of New Yorkers over those of the fossil fuel industry,” said Eric Weltman, a Brooklyn-based Senior Organizer with Food & Water Watch. “Governor Cuomo has, once again, prioritized New York’s health and the environment over the profits of the fracking industry, and we’re thankful for his leadership.”
A network of environmental organizations, including Scenic Hudson, Riverkeeper, Food & Water Watch, the Sierra Club Lower Hudson, the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Audubon Society, and the New York League of Conservation Voters, spoke out against the proposal.
Citing environmental and community concerns, the groups spearheaded a campaign urging the New York State Legislature to pass bills A.6825A and S.5197B. The legislation expands New York State’s jurisdiction over the siting of oil barges on the Hudson River by enabling the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to create “Tanker Avoidance Zones” based on the presence of significant habitats and the concerns of waterfront communities.
The groups fear that the additional oil barge traffic would reverse decades of Hudson clean-up, and squander millions of dollars already spent revitalizing the waterfront. More oil barges on the river increases the risk for hazardous oil spills, threatens New Yorkers’ drinking water, and could damage the habitat of the endangered sturgeon and other species. Barges also produce significant noise and light pollution due to generators and stadium-like lighting on deck, disturbing communities along the waterfront.
Municipalities up and down the Hudson passed resolutions in opposition to the proposal. And the coalition galvanized community members across the state to submit thousands of petitions and make hundreds of phone calls to the New York State Legislature in support of protecting the Hudson from fracked oil, which resulted in the legislature’s decision, at the eleventh hour of the session, to pass this important bill.
Other news reports:
Poughkeepsie Journal: Hudson River protection law restricts oil tankers
Albany Times Union: State pushes back on Hudson oil barges
Yonkers Daily Voice: Bill Protecting Hudson Valley Waterfronts From Barges Signed By Cuomo
Please add your name to a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo, urging him to sign into law legislation to help protect the Hudson River from oil barges.
The deadline for signing on is this Thursday, October 19 at 6:00 pm.
This summer, the legislature passed a bill that would give the Department of Environmental Conservation the authority to establish “tanker avoidance zones” in the Hudson River.
This was in response to a proposal to turn the river into a virtual parking lot for fracked oil by creating 10 new locations for barges carrying petroleum.
This sign-on letter is open to any non-profit organization, faith institution, business, political club, civic group, labor union, or student organization. Read more.
As part of its Ports and Waterways Safety Assessment (PAWSA) concerning the proposal to create new anchorages on the Hudson River, Coast Guard experts will host two informational webinars.
DATE: Wednesday, October 18, 2017
TIME: Two sessions – 10am or 7pm ET
MEETING LINK: PAWSA Public Information Webinar
(NO REGISTRATION REQUIRED)
Online webinar accessible via PC/MAC browser (with speakers) or mobile device (via the Adobe Connect app). Visit the Adobe Connect website prior to the session to test your system’s connectivity and verify meeting accessibility.
The risk assessment process is 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. The process involves convening a select group of waterway users / stakeholders and conducting a two-day structured workshop to meet these objectives. A sponsor (e.g., Captain of the Port) is required to initiate and manage the workshop. However, the process must be a joint effort involving waterway users, stakeholders, and the agencies / entities responsible for implementing selected risk mitigation measures.
The risk assessment process represents a significant part of joint public-private sector planning for mitigating risk in waterways. When applied consistently and uniformly in a number of waterways, the process is expected to provide a basis for making best value decisions for risk mitigation investments, both on the local and national level.
For more information on the PAWSA program, please use the “Contact Us” form and select “Ports and Waterways Safety Assessment (PAWSA) from the pull down menu.
Scenic Hudson: In June the state Senate and Assembly passed legislation that authorizes the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to take steps to protect the most sensitive and important areas of the Hudson River and communities along its banks. This bill is a critical element of our strategy to stop dangerous and unsightly new anchorages on the Hudson River. The bill has been delivered by the legislature to Governor Cuomo. Now we need you to contact the Governor today and ask him to sign S.5197b/A.6825a into law.
Visit the Governor’s website to complete a comment form. A sample message for you is below. Personalized messages are best, but be sure to say you want him to sign S.5197b/A.6825a into law. Read more.
U.S. Coast Guard Press Release: The U.S. Coast Guard identified locations and dates for the Hudson River Ports and Waterways Safety Assessment (PAWSA) Workshops.
Dates in November have been identified for two groups of waterway users and stakeholders to participate in two-day structured workshops to ensure the PAWSA process is a joint effort involving waterway users, stakeholders, and agencies to identify ways to improve the safety of the Hudson River. The Coast Guard has completed 52 PAWSA studies nationwide since the program’s inception in 1999.
On November 7-8, a workshop will be held in the Mid-Hudson region.
On November 15-16, a workshop will be held in Albany, New York.
The Coast Guard is selecting participants based on their waterway expertise and to create a broad cross-section of Hudson River stakeholders. The District Commander’s goal is to build a diverse team that helps ensure everyone’s concerns are represented through the PAWSA risk analysis process. The discussions will help promote navigation safety and environmental protection.
Members of the public desiring to be considered for participation in the workshops are invited to provide their name, contact information, connection to the waterway, experience, and related skills to HudsonRiverPAWSA@uscg.mil by Sept. 15. Formal invitations to selectees will follow.
Coast Guard experts will host two informational PAWSA webinars on Oct. 18, at 10 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. For webinar access, participants and interested community members should go to https://www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=pawsaMain.
WorkBoat: Under fire from New York state and local officials, the Coast Guard announced it will hold Hudson River Ports and Waterways Safety Assessment Workshops in November as part of its review of proposed barge anchorages along the river.
The Coast Guard calls its process by the acronym PAWSA, and says it has conducted 52 studies nationwide since 1999. It is a two-day structured workshop that brings together waterway users, stakeholders and government agencies to look for ways of improving safety.
At the request of the maritime industry, the Coast Guard initiated work toward establishing up to 10 designated barge anchorages on the Hudson River, a plan advocates said was needed for emergency movements – such as moving barges upriver in the event of another major storm heading to New York Harbor – and to handle anticipated traffic on the river.
That triggered a strong pushback from environmental groups, river towns, state legislators and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration, which declared the proposal “unacceptable.” The Coast Guard paused, announcing in June it would initiate a new safety study.
The timeline announced Friday calls for a Nov. 7-8, a workshop will be held in the mid-Hudson region, and another Nov. 15-16 in the state capitol Albany, with locations and details yet to be determined.
“The Coast Guard is selecting participants based on their waterway expertise and to create a broad cross-section of Hudson River stakeholders. The District Commander’s goal is to build a diverse team that helps ensure everyone’s concerns are represented through the PAWSA risk analysis process. The discussions will help promote navigation safety and environmental protection,” the Coast Guard First District said in its announcement.
Members of the public who want to be considered for participation in the workshops are invited to provide their name, contact information, connection to the waterway, experience, and related skills to HudsonRiverPAWSA@uscg.mil by Sept. 15. The Coast Guard will follow up with sending formal invitations to those it selects.
The Coast Guard will also have its own experts will host two public, online informational PAWSA webinars on Oct. 18, at 10 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. For webinar access, participants and interested community members should log on to https://www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=pawsaMain.
Hudson Valley One: Jon Bowermaster isn’t into being famous, particularly. After a couple of decades as a world adventurer, author and filmmaker who documented Antarctica and other far-flung parts of our ocean planet on National Geographic expeditions, the Stone Ridge resident told Ulster Publishing that he had had decided that he “didn’t want to be ‘that kayak guy’ anymore.” He simply wants to save the world’s waterways – and these days, mostly the ones closest to home.
Nor does Bowermaster baldly exploit his status as rock star Natalie Merchant’s Significant Other, or his friendship with actor Mark Ruffalo that developed on the anti-fracking public speaking circuit (though the celebrity appearances in his films Dear Governor Cuomo and Dear President Obama certainly must have helped him get them widely screened). He keeps a low personal profile and helps his more visible friends and family protect their privacy. But when it comes to corporate and political threats to the natural environment, Jon Bowermaster gets fiercely motivated.
“I’ve spent years making films about the relationship between man and water around the world, but I always wanted to do something about the Hudson River,” he told us in 2016, as his production company, Oceans 8 Films, was marketing a new video-magazine-format series titled The Hudson: A River at Risk. Viewable online at www.hudsonriverstories.com, these mini-documentaries examine such incendiary issues as the incomplete cleanup of PCBs from the Hudson riverbed, “bomb trains” carrying Bakken crude oil across New York State, the proposed Pilgrim Pipelines, leaks and lax security at the Indian Point nuclear plant, the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement project and proposals to anchor gigantic barges indefinitely in Hudson River port towns and to build huge high-voltage transmission lines through the Hudson Valley. Read more.
Hudson Valley News Network: After working to kill the Coast Guard’s initial proposal to install ten new anchorage sites on the Hudson River, Representative Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18) announced that his amendment to defund future attempts to establish these sites passed with unanimous support in the House of Representatives.
The amendment, attached to a bill which funds the Coast Guard, would prohibit the agency from establishing any anchorages along the Hudson River between Yonkers and Kingston.
“Just in case anyone gets any bright ideas, this is one more way to make sure that stupid proposal stays dead and buried,” said Rep. Maloney. “I’m not letting my guard down on this, and even after the PAWSA process, this will make sure that our river is safe and doesn’t become a parking lot for oil barges.”
“This action barring expenditure for new Anchorages will help safeguard the Hudson from potentially devastating risks to the environment and economy of the region,” said Ned Sullivan, President of Scenic Hudson. “Scenic Hudson is grateful for Congressman Maloney’s tireless and effective leadership on this key issue.” Read more.
WorkBoat: Extreme Hudson River fog and a powerful current contributed to the April 4 grounding of a barge carrying 60,000 bbls. of gasoline at Catskill, N.Y., according to a report from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation police.
The 458’x72’ double-hull barge RTC 150, pushed by the 119’x40’x22’, 7,200-hp tugboat Meredith C. Reinauer operated by the Reinauer Transportation Companies, were hauling the fuel upriver to Albany, N.Y., when the articulated tug-barge got into trouble and hung up on a stone channel marker just south of the Rip Van Winkle Bridge.
That was a good outcome for the New York maritime industry, as the grounding occured amid debate over proposed new anchorage areas on the Hudson River, an industry supported proposal vigorously opposed by environmental groups and river towns. The Coast Guard has paused its consideration of that plan, while it conducts a study to assess safety risks and other issues.
Capt. Steven Hardy, 64, told DEC police he was heading north on the river, pushing against the current in almost zero visibility and relying on electronic navigation. At around 8:15 a.m., the GPS indicated the ATB was on the easternmost side of the channel, and Hardy attempted to steer west and back to the channel center, according to the DEC report.
As he attempted to correct course, the oncoming river current, spurred by outgoing tide, “began to push the tug and barge sideways resulting in an overcorrection of course,” the report says. Read more.