MidHudsonNews.com: More elected officials are coming out in opposition to potential short and long term anchorage points for commercial vessels on the Hudson River.
Assemblyman Frank Skartados (D – Milton) brought together elected officials and leaders from local environmental organizations from the municipalities in his district to oppose the idea docking commercial ships and barges.
“We have been in contact and close communication with all the communities that I represent and we all have something in common, and that is the Hudson River,” said Skartados. “All the communities I represent have access to the Hudson River and they are all impacted by what happens to this mighty, America’s heritage river,” he said.
There has been some confusion as to what exactly is being asked of these Hudson River communities, where the barges would be placed, for how long and how large they will be, along with uncertainty about what can be done about it and when. It was presented as a 10-location, 43-barge total layout to span from Yonkers to Kingston, but the previously mentioned details were elusive.
A scale image released shows that the long-term, five-barge anchorage designed for Newburgh, the one that causes a direct impact to the municipalities of the 104th District, is not actually in Newburgh. The image shows that the five connected barges would occupy the channel directly between Beacon and Newburgh, spanning the distance from approximately Plum Point on the Orange County side, reaching north well past Denning Point on the Dutchess County side. It will occupy a width of 1,800 feet and stretch over two kilometers in length, having a total perimeter of 7.10 km occupied in the center of the river. Read more.
Peekskill Post: Last week’s fuel spill at the Port of Rensselaer in Albany, caused by an equipment failure during a thunderstorm, has local politicians and environmentalists renewing their call to stop the Coast Guard’s proposed plan to install a slew of barge anchorages containing oil and other cargo in the Hudson River near Peekskill.
Though the leak of some 600 gallons of gasoline is being controlled in a secondary containment, Sen. Terrence Murphy and others are pointing to the accident as an example of the environmental risk that would accompany oil barges in the Hudson between Yonkers and Kingston.
Murphy also called for an environmental impact statement to be conducted, and Coast Guard spokeswoman Chief Warrant Officer Allyson Conroy reiterated to The Peekskill Post Thursday that an environmental impact study will take place as the initial stages of the process progress. Read more.
Poughkeepsie Journal: Brock CarVellenixon came to the Beacon waterfront Friday in search of blue crab.
The 31-year-old Poughkeepsie resident said he routinely comes to the edge of the Hudson River to drop his pots.
“It’s a peaceful place to be, to enjoy nature and the surroundings,” he said. “Even if I don’t catch anything, it’s relaxing to be out here.”
With that in mind, a wide coalition of local and state officials gathered at Long Dock Park Friday to draw attention to a federal proposal for 10 new rest stops for ships, including oil barges, up and down the river.
Led by state Assemblyman Frank Skartados, D-Milton, a group that included at least four local mayors and town supervisors joined environmental advocates to call on the U.S. Coast Guard to rethink its plan for 43 new berths in 10 locations where ships can stop and anchor while traveling between Albany and New York City.
Their objections echo similar statements made in recent weeks by Hudson Valley mayors, supervisors, county executives and federal elected officials across the political spectrum.
Dozens of parked vessels, they said, would post a dire threat to a river with historic significance, scenic beauty and recreational riches that is in the midst of a decades-long, hard-fought environmental comeback. Also at risk: drinking water that serves communities on both sides.
“Nobody in our community,” Skartados said, “wants to see the river turned into a parking lot for barges and commercial boats.” Read more.
Yonkers Daily Voice: A proposal to allow massive barges to anchor off the shore of several lower Hudson Valley communities is facing increased backlash from local politicians and organizations as a deadline to comment approaches
Earlier this year, the Coast Guard issued a proposal to establish new anchorage grounds in the Hudson River from Yonkers to Kingston in an effort to improve navigation safety along an extended portion of the area, which currently has no grounds for barges as large as 600-feet to park.
With the domestic oil production rapidly on the rise , trade lines have become increasingly valuable. If the proposal is approved, it would include 16 anchor berths for barges spread across 715 acres on the water between Yonkers and the Dobbs Ferry Train Station.
In a statement, Business Council of Westchester President Marsha Gordon blasted the proposal, saying it could “set back economic development gains in communities along the Hudson River that we have worked so hard to achieve in recent years….
At 11:30 a.m. on Monday at Yonkers City Hall, Mayor Mike Spano will convene local officials to announce the Hudson River Waterfront Alliance, consisting of representatives from every municipality from Yonkers to Peekskill. Read more.
MidHudsonNews.com: Local elected officials, led by Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney (D, NY18), came out to protest the Coast Guard’s proposed increase of barge anchorages along the Hudson River from Kingston to Yonkers.
The proposal consists of having 43 new anchorages, at 10 different sites, covering an approximate 2,400 acres that would station barges carrying Bakken crude oil.
The Coast Guard has alluded to holding public hearings in a year. Maloney, along with elected officials in opposition to the Coast Guard’s proposal, said a year is too long to continue without public involvement.
He wants the community involvement moved up.
“It’s not good enough that you’re going to do it next year,” Maloney said. “You’ve got to take into account the opinions of local communities that will be seriously affected by the dramatic increase in the amount of anchoraging, and barging locations here on the Hudson River and you’ve got to figure out whether it’s going to hurt the environment or not, and that’s not too much to ask,” said Maloney. “It’s another example of entities in Washington, federal bureaucrats, charging ahead with something when they ought to be taking into account local opinions.”
Hudson Riverkeeper Paul Gallay, who stands with Maloney on the issue, said Riverkeeper has found empirical evidence of the improved health of the Hudson, in addition to the various communities’ waterfront revitalizations, river economy and river tourism benefits, all of which would plunge into disaster if there were to be a leak of Bakken crude from one of the barges. He said there is no benefit to the Hudson communities that would host these barges. Read more.
HVNN: The New Windsor Town Park at Plum Point was the site for local officials to gather and proclaim solidarity in opposition to a proposal to expand anchorage sites along the Hudson River.
“We are united in one voice across both parties and saying ‘Come to the Hudson Valley, talk to us before moving forward,’” said Assemblyman James Skoufis. “Hold on! Not so fast! Cool your jets! Before you do anything to one of our greatest assets here in the region, come talk to the people who live along the Hudson River.”
“My neighbors deserve to have their voices heard on issues that impact our environment, economy and public safety – especially when it comes to dangerous oil barges docked in their backyard,” added Representative Sean Maloney (NY-18), who joined Skoufis and Senator William Larkin in calling for an environmental impact study and public hearings “as soon as possible before building new anchorages – and making our beautiful waterfronts and scenic Hudson River a parking lot for large oil ships.”
“The anchorages proposal is not about safety, it’s about the oil,” asserted Riverkeeper President Paul Gallay. “Industry itself has said that these anchorages are ‘key to supporting trade’ in oil exports. Accidents around the country have shown us that crude oil cannot be recovered if it is spilled. And crude oil is poison for life in the river. This living river is healing, and we need to take great care to understand if our actions today — like re-industrialization of the Hudson — is going to damage that important goal.” Read more.
BBC World Service: Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney was in Orange County Thursday, calling on the U.S. Coast Guard to listen to Hudson River communities when it comes to a proposal to establish anchorage sites in the river. Maloney and local elected officials want public hearings earlier in the process.
The Coast Guard proposes 10 anchorage sites — basically, rest stops — for commercial vessels along the Hudson River, from Yonkers to Kingston. Congressman Maloney and local elected officials gathered at a park along the river’s shoreline in New Windsor to call on the Coast Guard to allow local voices to be heard. Here’s Maloney, a Democrat from the 18th district.
“One of my great frustrations in Washington is that time and again I see federal agencies making decisions that affect local communities without enough input from those local communities. So far, we haven’t had a sufficient level of that public input and we’re not likely to get it for months and months when these plans will be so far down the track we don’t know whether we’ll ever pull them back,” Maloney says. “And so what we’re asking for together with Senator Schumer and Senator Gillibrand and other local leaders is to have immediate public hearings and to do an environmental assessment, an impact study, on what this would mean for these local communities.”
A Coast Guard spokesperson was unable to respond in time for this broadcast but, earlier in August, spokeswoman Chief Warrant Officer Allyson Conroy said the proposal is at the beginning of a two-year process and public input is welcome. The comment period ends September 7. Conroy says there will be public hearings in the spring of 2017, per the proposal process, along with an environmental study. Maloney says that’s too late.
“These things take on a life of their own and if you wait that long to do that type of assessment or that kind of input from the community, you’re pretty far down the track at that point and it can be perfunctory,” Maloney says. “I’d like the communities’ voices to be heard right now.” Read more.
Times Herald Record: The pilots whose ships, tugboats and barges ply the Hudson River say safety is behind a federal proposal to designate 10 points along the river as places commercial vessels can anchor when confronting bad weather, ice, tired crews or other problems.
But environmentalists and elected officials representing the City of Newburgh and other river towns and villages are opposing the U.S. Coast Guard’s proposal, citing a lack of public input and the potential impacts on the environment, recreational boaters and those who enjoy the Hudson’s views.
On Friday three environmental groups and mayors and supervisors from six Hudson River municipalities will join Assemblyman Frank Skartados to denounce the proposal at a press conference in Beacon.
On Thursday U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney and state and local officials gathered at Plum Point in New Windsor to air their concerns, with Maloney calling for an environmental impact study and expedited public hearings.
“What we’re saying is, make sure the local communities have a voice that is heard in this process,” Maloney said. “One of my great frustrations in Washington is that, time and again, I see federal agencies making decisions that affect local communities without enough input from those local communities.” Read more.
Riverkeeper: 1. They say it’s about safety. But it’s really about oil. In its request to the Coast Guard, the shipping industry made very clear what’s driving this:
“For several years the United States of America has developed as a major energy producing nation and the great port of Albany as a leading export for … trade of American Bakken Crude Oil and Ethanol. Trade will increase on the Hudson River significantly over the next few years with the lifting of the ban on American Crude exports for foreign trade and federally designated anchorages are key to supporting trade.” – Maritime Association of the Port of NY/NJ Tug and Barge Committee, Jan. 21, 2016 letter to U.S. Coast Guard
The anchorage request is part of something much bigger – it comes amid a number of efforts to significantly increase the use of the Hudson as an oil shipping hub. Projects are in the works to expand the ports of Albany and Coeymans, for example, and increase the carrying capacity of the crude oil rail line from Buffalo to the coastal refineries. In addition, the Global oil terminal in Albany is fighting to gain permission to heat heavy “tar sands” crude for transport down the Hudson.
Until 2012, crude oil was not an issue on the Hudson. Starting in 2012, the Hudson became a shipping corridor for about 25 percent of the oil coming from North Dakota.
Several accidents around the country clearly show that crude oil cannot be recovered or cleaned up if it is spilled into a waterway. As one NOAA spills expert said to us: We’ll just have to get used to the idea that we can’t recover Bakken after a spill.
And crude oil is poison for life in the river. After the oil train disaster in Lac Megantic, Quebec, where 47 people were burned to death, some of the oil ran into the Chaudière River, studies have found a dramatic increase in the presence of lesions, fin erosion and other deformities in many species of fish.
2. The sturgeon were here first. Several of the proposed anchorages are in areas relied upon by sturgeon for their survival. Both species of Hudson River sturgeon – Atlantic and shortnose – are on the endangered species list. Anchors and anchor chains scar and disturb the river bottom, where sturgeon spawn and feed and rest.
Before any new anchorages are approved, researchers must determine definitively whether the disturbance to sturgeon habitat is detrimental or not. The sturgeon were here first.
3. Blindingly bright and exceedingly loud. Until fall of 2015, northbound crude oil tugs and barges anchored between Rhinecliff and Port Ewen waiting for loading terminals in Albany. Before 2012, that reach of the river was quiet, dark and serene at night. But stadium lighting and generator noise on the barges ended that. That’s when residents of the community started complaining to the Coast Guard. How will noise and light pollution affect communities near the other proposed anchorages? Each community will have to speak up. Read more.
Riverkeeper: Riverkeeper, elected officials and the general public are dismayed that some of the arguments being offered by the industry are blatant falsehoods – statements that are easily disputed by the facts.
CLAIM: This is nothing new. Vessel operators have been anchoring informally at these sites for years. Since Henry Hudson, actually.
RESPONSE: Not to this degree, not by a long shot. In our patrols over 15 years, we’ve never seen even a half-dozen commercial vessels anchored between the George Washington Bridge and Albany. There are only two existing authorized anchorage grounds, at Yonkers and Hyde Park. In addition to these two locations, for about three years, until the fall of 2015, tugs and barges also used an unauthorized anchorage off Port Ewen near Kingston.
The proposal seeks to add ten more anchorage grounds, with room for 43 vessels – a drastic increase.
CLAIM: Permanent, authorized anchorages are needed for safety. Vessel operators need a place to stop in the event of fog and ice – or as the Coast Guard told the New York Times, to “park and catch up on rest and then move on.”
RESPONSE: This is a problem that doesn’t need to be fixed. Commercial vessels already have emergency anchoring privileges. To our knowledge, the Coast Guard has never denied commercial vessel operators the ability to anchor when needed due to safety concerns.
In fact, all of the areas proposed as new anchorages were used during Superstorm Sandy. The Coast Guard specifically directed vessels to anchor upriver, out of New York Harbor. When vessel operators need to anchor on an emergency basis, all they need to do is call the Coast Guard.
Recently a Coast Guard spokesperson suggested that the anchorages are like a “truck stop on the highway” where operators can stop and rest. That suggestion is a little ridiculous. Trucks have one driver. Tugs have multiple crew, and are staffed to operate around the clock, watch on watch, for weeks on end. Tugs don’t nap. Read more.
MidHudsonNews.com: The plan under consideration by the Coast Guard to establish 10 commercial anchorages on the Hudson River between Kingston and Yonkers should be opposed and Dutchess County Legislator Joel Tyner wants to lead the charge by that lawmaking body. He said the county should oppose barges with fracked oil that would be moored in the 10 previously announced locations.
“We shouldn’t be turning the Hudson River into an industrial parking lot for these fracked oil barges,” he said.
Tyner said the state should shoot for non-fossil fuel electric generation by 2030.
The Democrat lawmaker who frequently pushes environmental issues is also proposing that the county make sure neighborhoods are notified when groundwater contamination or vapor intrusion threats have been discovered nearby.
NorthJersey.com: The number of barges hauling crude oil on the Hudson River past some of New Jersey’s most densely-populated communities will not be immediately affected by federal air violations lodged against an oil terminal operator in upstate New York, environmental officials said Wednesday.
In a violation notice sent in late July, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says Global Partners LP has underreported the amount of pollution it emits into the air at its facility in Albany where crude oil is transferred from trains onto barges and vessels on their way to refineries in New Jersey and Canada.
Global has played a large role in turning the Hudson into a major transportation route for crude oil over the last several years. In 2012, environmental officials in New York allowed Global Partners to more than triple the amount of crude oil it handles at its Hudson River terminal each year to 1.8 billion gallons from 450 million gallons.
The result has been an enormous increase in ships hauling crude south along the Hudson, drawing concern from local officials and environmentalists who fear a spill.
The EPA says Global violated the federal Clean Air Act by emitting more than 3.5 times the amount of pollution at its Albany facility than it said it would in its 2012 permit application to New York officials seeking to increase the amount of oil it handles. Read more.
westfaironline: The U.S. Coast Guard is considering new anchorages along a 109-mile stretch of the Hudson River where tugs and barges could wait out storms or wait for a high tide.
That’s not going over well in river towns that have invested heavily in revitalizing their waterfronts or among environmentalists who fear more pollution.
The Coast Guard has posted a proposed rule that would create 10 anchorages from Yonkers to Kingston. They would encompass more than 2,000 acres and accommodate 43 vessels up to 600 feet long.
American Waterways Oper-ators, Hudson River Pilots Association and the tug and barge committee of the Maritime Association of the Port of New York and New Jersey proposed the rule.
The problem, as the maritime interests see it, is that there isn’t enough space to safely park tug boats, barges and other large vessels during emergencies and adverse conditions.
Traffic has increased dramatically in the last few years, the Maritime Association said in a January letter to the Coast Guard, and is expected to continue increasing. But there is only one designated anchorage between Yonkers and the Port of Albany, at Hyde Park, with room for only three vessels.
Depths in parts of the Hudson have narrowed because of irregular dredging, so deep vessels must await high tide. The conditions create a logistical nightmare, especially during severe weather.
“When a tug and barge hit a situation, which happens rather frequently — with the fog and thunderclouds forming and ice in the water and low tide — they need places to anchor,” said Edward J. Kelly, executive director of the Maritime Association. Now they park in the same places proposed in the rule.
“These are places we know are safe and protected,” Kelly said. “They’ve been used for centuries, as a customary and common practice. All we want to do is formalize them and call them anchorages.”
Last year, however, the Coast Guard issued a safety bulletin to operators of commercial vessels reminding them that, “except in cases of great emergency,” they may anchor only in approved anchorages. Flouting the regulation could result in a $40,000 penalty.
The industry casts its proposal as a safe and environmentally sound way to move products as trade volumes increase. Barges and tugs use far less fuel and pollute significantly less than trucks. Barges are double-hulled, so they are unlikely to leak. Crew members must undergo extensive federal background checks.
Vessels typically pull aside for a few hours until conditions improve. Shipping companies, Kelly said, don’t make money when they park.
The Hudson has been a battleground for centuries between industry and recreation, the economy and the environment, practicality and aesthetics….
The late folk musician Pete Seeger sailed his sloop Clearwater from Beacon to raise awareness of the river’s pollution by companies and co-founded the Clearwater Festival to celebrate the environment and the Hudson. Seeger, said Vitalah Gayle Simon in a comment posted on Regulations.com, “must be singing loudly against the proposed barge project on the beloved Hudson which he dedicated so many years of his life to clean up.” Read more.
lohud.com: Residents will have a chance to say their piece about the proposed Hudson River anchorages — they’ll just have to wait until the spring to do so.
Opponents of the 10 proposed anchorage sites from Yonkers north to Kingston have been vocal about their desire for a public hearing, fretting that the federal government is railroading riverfront communities with the rule.
Chief Warrant Officer Allyson Conroy said hearings were always part of the process.
“As we move forward, we’ll include an advertisement of the proposed changes, (which is) what we’re in now, a statement of the environmental impacts and public meetings,” she said this week.
Conroy said the June 9 rule proposal was the first step in a nearly two-year process. After public comment closes Sept. 7, the Coast Guard will refine the rule before holding a round of public meetings — or hearings — next spring. Environmental factors will be taken into account and any new rule would not hit the books until early 2018.
Elected officials — riverfront village trustees, Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano, state Sen. Terrence Murphy and U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand — have called on the Coast Guard to hold hearings. Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney is expected to do the same on Thursday. Read more.
Albany Times Union: Vessels traveling the Hudson River say they need more places to anchor as ship volume has increased at the Port of Albany, leading to congestion there.
The plan submitted to the Coast Guard seeks anchorage stations, which are rest stops, along the river from Kingston to Yonkers.
But the attempt to establish the stations is rippling through the riverfront communities south of Albany. Local public officials cite environmental concerns and a negative impact on waterfront redevelopment efforts and spoiling river views as reasons why the stations should not dot the river.
The plan has drawn hundreds of online public comments, raising environmental, light and noise pollution issues.
Space is allotted for more than 40 vessels over 10 proposed stations on the river. The stations, the trade association that sponsored the plan said, would ease commercial navigation and boost safety.
The proposal follows two high-traffic years at the Port of Albany. In 2015, the port saw 69 ships and heavy lift barges, according Tony Vasil, business development and marketing manager. This followed a banner year of 94 ships and barges, which the port attributed to General Electric’s large shipment of power generation equipment to Algeria. The prior five years averaged 57.4 ships and barges.
As crude oil trade on the river is poised to grow, more way stations are needed, the Maritime Association of the Port of New York and New Jersey said earlier this year. Read more.
Westchester Magazine: A proposal to establish new anchorage grounds along the Hudson River from Yonkers to Kingston is currently under consideration by the Coast Guard as a means to improve safety and efficiency for massive barges traveling up the river. Presently, the Coast Guard is crowd-sourcing information from both elected officials and the public “to assist in determining the best way forward,” according to the aforementioned proposal. That means you still have an opportunity to comment on the issue and make your stance known. And to get you keyed in on the controversial topic, here’s some basic information:
- The plan is to create 10 new anchorage sites along the Hudson River, making more than 40 berths, or “parking spaces,” called berths, available for barges.
- Due to a recently ended ban on the export of oil in the produced in the U.S., oil production has nearly doubled, instigating the call for more barge berths but also instilling fear in local residents and officials that there will be an uptick in oil transported along the Hudson.
- In Westchester, a 715-acre anchorage ground with room for up to 16 vessels is being considered for Yonkers, and a 127-acre site with room for three vessels in Montrose.
- In the greater Hudson Valley, anchorage sites are being proposed for Tomkins Cove, Newburgh, Marlboro, Milton, Roseton, Big Rock Point, Port Ewen, and Kingston.
- According to the NYTimes, the proposal originated from two private maritime organizations, the Maritime Association of the Port of New York and New Jersey, and the American Waterways Operators, both of which were concerned about congested routes and the safety of barge operators.
- Lohud reports these organizations believe the current number of anchorage sites is not adequate to support the volume of goods transported up the Hudson River each year.
- Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano has commented on the matter, saying that the creation of these sites will undo the progress of public and private investments that have assisted in turning the Yonkers riverfront into an appealing local attraction.
- The non-profit advocacy group Riverkeeper argues that these anchorages could cause lasting damage to the Hudson River, including noise and light pollution, “scarring” of the river bottom, and increased risk of oil spills.
- Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro made remarks that these would-be anchorage sites are an unwanted intrusion, and Ulster County Executive Michael Hein has called the project “disgraceful,” according to the Daily Freeman. On the same note, Marlboro Town Supervisor Al Lanzetta wrote a letter to the Daily Freeman explaining that their Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan is dependent on access to the Hudson River, which may be impeded by commercial water traffic.
- Edward Kelly, executive director of the Maritime Association of the Port of New York/New Jersey, does not believe the proposal represents much of a change, arguing that barges have been anchoring at these locations for a long time to wait out inclement weather.
Ned Sullivan, president of Scenic Hudson, in the Times Union: Scenic Hudson and other environmental groups have made great strides in preserving the Hudson Valley’s scenic and ecological treasures. At the same time, communities along the river have done much to revitalize their waterfronts as exciting places to live, work and have fun. These successes have greatly enhanced residents’ quality of life, a major asset in attracting businesses that bolster the regional economy.
Now we face a new threat that could seriously undermine these achievements.
The U.S. Coast Guard is considering regulations that would establish anchorage grounds for commercial vessels along the Hudson River — up to 10 sites between Yonkers, Westchester County, and Kingston, Ulster County. In a river as difficult to navigate as the Hudson, it’s important vessels have “safe harbors” — places to sit out storms and heavy fog and cut down on crew fatigue. However, if the purpose of these anchorages is to warehouse barges filled with volatile crude oil, they are totally unacceptable.
Such offshore “parking lots” would significantly increase the environmental risks our river and waterfront communities already face from crude oil transported by train in poorly designed railcars, and without adequate safeguards to prevent and respond to spills. A barge spill in the tidal Hudson would be difficult, if not impossible, to clean up without incurring damage to drinking-water resources and prime wildlife habitat, as well as fouling riverfronts all the way to New York City. While the Hudson already faces a massive volume of crude oil transport by rail and water for domestic use, Congress has lifted the ban on export of crude, potentially increasing the volume that could pass from Albany to New York Harbor.
At the same time, the noise and air-quality impacts of the anchorages could stall ongoing economic development projects on downtown waterfronts. They also could imperil the region’s scenic splendor — imagine hiking to the top of a mountain only to gaze down upon a pileup of barges — as well as access to the river and the safety of those engaged in paddling, sailing and motorboating.
As it stands, this plan would be disastrous — allowing as many as 43 berths for tankers at the 10 locations, turning our bucolic river into an industrial storage facility. Leaders of environmental groups as well as many public officials — including mayors, county executives, and Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer — have expressed alarm about the proposal and called for public hearings, which the Coast Guard plans to hold next spring. In the meantime, it is seeking public comments through Sept. 7 about the anchorages.
Scenic Hudson is committed to measures that ensure the safety of shipping crews on the Hudson.
But the river cannot be turned into an industrial parking lot for flotillas of crude oil tankers and barges at the risk of the region’s economic and environmental health.
Peekskill Post: The federal government’s plan to anchor barges containing oil and other cargo in the waters of the Hudson River, not far from Peekskill, has drawn sharp criticism from elected officials due to environmental and aesthetic concerns, but a spokesperson for the U.S. Coast Guard said the plan may actually make the river safer and lessen the chance of an oil spill.
“We want to make sure the transit between Yonkers and Kingston remains safe,” said U.S. Coast Guard spokeswoman Chief Warrant Officer Allyson Conroy. “The problem right now is these vessels cannot anchor outside of federally regulated anchorage sites, of which there is only one between Yonkers and Kingston and it is closed between Dec. 16 and the last day of February because the river freezes. So the idea of having more anchorages along the Hudson River creates safety for these pilots and can improve navigation. They can stop there and anchor to refuel, get food, take a nap because they can only go for so long. The longer they have to go the higher the risk of them getting tired and causing a risk on the river and we do not want that.”
Conroy added that these barges will contain cargo that is already shipped on the Hudson on a daily basis, including oil and natural gas.
“These aren’t parking lots, as I have heard some say,” Conroy said. “Think of it more as a rest stop for a trucker. I think it is important to add that literally billions of barrels of oil are shipped up and down the river.” Read more.
New York Times: Mayor Mike Spano of Yonkers likes to stroll along the Hudson River waterfront and marvel at the changes since the 1980s. Hundreds of millions of dollars in public and private investment have transformed a once forlorn riverfront marred by abandoned industry into a vibrant place where people live and play.
But a proposal to allow massive barges — up to 600 feet long — to anchor off the shore of the state’s fourth largest city here, just north of New York City, and in other spots stretching some 70 miles north to Kingston, threatens to undo that progress, Mr. Spano said. The plan, by the private maritime industry, would create 10 new anchorage sites along the Hudson River, with more than 40 berths, or parking spots.
The rise of the United States as a major oil producer in recent years is having unintended consequences for picturesque suburban communities that view the Hudson as a majestic backdrop, not a conduit for international trade. They fear that the very quality that makes these towns so charming — unfettered water views — will be destroyed.
In December, Congress ended a 40-year ban on the export of most crude oil produced in the lower 48 states, a move that came as the industry is booming, helped by new methods of blasting through hard rocks with water, sand and chemicals that have opened up areas for oil exploration. As a result, oil production has nearly doubled to more than nine million barrels a day.
But all of that oil needs to go somewhere, and that’s where rail lines and barges — and thus the Hudson River — come in.
Under the proposal, Yonkers and two villages to the north, Hastings-on-Hudson and Dobbs Ferry, would have by far the most barges at anchor, with 16 berths spread across 715 acres on the water. Officials and many residents say the plan would, in a sense, bring the communities that have worked hard to shed their industrial pasts back to the future.
“To reindustrialize the waterfronts of these communities would do long-term damage to what has been two decades of reinvestment taking place on our shores,” Mr. Spano said. “For us to go backward is just unconscionable.”
The proposal for berths on the Hudson came from maritime organizations worried about congestion on the river and the safety of barge operators. Earlier this year, the Maritime Association of the Port of New York and New Jersey and the American Waterways Operators asked the Coast Guard for permission to establish new anchorage sites on the Hudson. Read more.
Daily Voice: Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino recently stood along the shores of the Hudson River with local elected officials, environmentalists and private citizens to urge the the public to voice concerns regarding the federal government’s plans to create up to 10 commercial barge anchorages in close proximity to the Westchester coastline.
The U.S. Coast Guard recently unveiled a plan calling for the additional anchorages to allow certain vessels, such as industrial barges to drop anchor.
The 10 proposed locations include spots in Yonkers, Montrose and Verplanck.
“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 okay,” Astorino said. “This plan would create a giant parking lot for massive barges and other commercial vessels just yards from our shores, and there needs to be a process to fully vet this proposal in the most transparent manner possible.”
The press conference was hosted by state Sen. Terrence Murphy (R-Yorktown) in Cortlandt. Read more.
Public News Service: A proposal to establish 10 anchorage points for commercial vessels traveling the Hudson River is coming under fire.
The plan would create berths for up to 43 ships and barges between Yonkers and Ulster County.
Andy Bicking, director of public policy with the environmental group Scenic Hudson, says not only would the plan turn reclaimed waterfront into industrial areas, the anchorages would affect wildlife habitat and potentially threaten air and water quality.
“Many of the barges are carrying highly volatile oil from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota, and the risk of a spill, of course, would be disastrous to the region,” he points out.
Shipping companies say barges have been using the anchorage sites for years to avoid fog, ice and other hazards on the river.
The U.S. Coast Guard has ordered shipping companies not to anchor in any undesignated locations except in special circumstances.
Bicking acknowledges that there are safety concerns, but maintains creating new anchorage sites could have other consequences.
“The concern that we have is not use of these facilities, but what it would mean to stockpile barges so that they could maximize use of these facilities in the future,” he explains.
And Bicking points out that the barges and the oil they carry support very few jobs in New York state, while the risks fall on local communities.
The public has been following the proposal closely and the Coast Guard is considering holding public hearings. Bicking adds many elected officials are raising concerns as well.
“Mayors, county executives, Sens. Gillibrand and Schumer have all expressed alarm about the proposal and have called for the public hearings, and in some cases, a full environmental review,” he stresses.
The Coast Guard is accepting public comments on the proposal through Sept. 7.
Daily Freeman: A proposal for three Hudson River anchorage sites near Rhinebeck, Kingston and Port Ewen could disrupt long-standing Kingston Sailing Club events that have attracted water craft enthusiasts from around the country.
Club officials filed comments with the U.S. Coast Guard saying the choice of locations — which among 10 new parking lots proposed for barges and tugs — should be reconsidered as safety and security risks.
“If they fill that whole bay up there with barges, that is going to be devastating to boat users,” past club Commodore Barry Medenbach said.
The three locations include one immediately adjacent to Port Ewen, N.Y., where the club has a starting line for regattas.
A second anchorage on the Ulster County side of the river covers a mile-long area that would directly interfere with events, club officials said.
“These are barges that are going to anchor there and they’re going to leave them there,” Medenbach said. “They’re probably going to put permanent moorings in and leave the barge for an unspecified amount of time. Right now, you’ll see the captains come up and they’ll anchor and wait for a tide change, then go. But (under the anchorage proposal), they’ll stay with the barge.”
Club officials in the letter contend the barges represent a terrorist security risk. Read more.
Peekskill Post: In a letter to the United States Coast Guard, Congresswoman Nita Lowey requested that the agency continue to allow for the scheduling of public hearings on the proposal to station commercial barges containing, among other things, oil, in the waters of the Hudson River within eyesight of Peekskill.
“At least two local municipalities within my congressional district—the Towns of Cortlandt and Haverstraw—have passed resolutions opposing the proposed anchorage sites and requesting public hearings,” Lowey wrote in the letter. “I urge you to grant the Town of Cortlandt’s request and hold public hearings in the Hudson Valley region to give opponents the opportunity to present their arguments in person before you make any decision on the request for expanded anchorage sites.”
Coast Guard spokeswoman Chief Warrant Officer Allyson Conroy told WAMC last week that public meetings are already being planned for the spring of 2017 per the proposal process, along with an environmental study. Read more. Lowey’s letter is here. (Photo credit)
Rockland County Times: Press release: Assemblymember Ellen Jaffee (D-Suffern) on Wednesday sent a letter and submitted her comments to the Coast Guard on the Proposed Rulemaking: Anchorage Grounds, Hudson River; Yonkers, NY to Kingston, NY. Docket Number USCG–2016–0132.
In her letter and comments Jaffee said, “I am writing on behalf of the residents of Rockland County, NY, my constituents in the 97th Assembly District and the communities I represent, including the Hudson River Villages of Nyack, South Nyack, Piermont, Grandview-on-Hudson, Upper Grandview, and the Hamlet of Palisades, to express my serious concerns regarding industry’s proposal to establish anchorage grounds for commercial vessels along the Hudson River at 10 locations from Yonkers to Kingston.
I am also requesting that the United States Coast Guard hold numerous, accessible public meetings that will allow for robust, substantive public input on a proposal that, if made official, will present public safety hazards, and negatively affect our environment, the ecology of the river, and our very quality of life.
My concerns about the environmental impacts include light and noise pollution, scarring of the river bottom by anchors and chains that would disturb river bottom habitat, and increasing industrialization of the river, particularly the increased risk of barge accidents and oil spills – a serious concern since the surge in shipments of Bakken crude oil in 2012. While I appreciate the best efforts by the Coast Guard and the state Department of Environmental Conservation to better prepare in the event of an oil spill, the undisputed fact remains that any oil recovered from the river bottom would be negligible.
At a time when many of our communities have long-term waterfront revitalization goals that will increase tourism, create jobs, and boost our local economies, turning the Hudson River into a crowded highway carrying oil to foreign countries, putting oil and profits ahead of everything else in this scenic Hudson Valley, is unacceptable.The Hudson River is vital to the quality of life in our communities as it has been for generations and must be for this generation and for generations to come.” Read more. (Photo credit)
Kingston Times: The U.S. Coast Guard is moving forward, full steam ahead, with plans to build multiple anchorage sites along the Hudson River. I am deeply concerned that there has been such a short, and poorly publicized open comment period and that there are zero plans to hold public hearings to inform the public about these anchorage sites.
The simple reality is, our communities are going to be impacted by these proposed plans and yet our residents are being given nearly no time or information to understand what is happening. Government has a responsibility to keep citizens informed about plans that will impact on our lives, and we should all be deeply concerned that currently this responsibility is being ignored. That is simply unacceptable, and the U.S. Coast Guard must halt these plans and truly inform us about what these anchorages will mean for our drinking water, our quality of life, and our property values.
— Sara Niccoli, Town of Palatine supervisor
Scenic Hudson: The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) is considering the adoption of regulations that would establish new anchorage grounds for commercial vessels along the Hudson River at 10 sites located between Yonkers, Westchester County, and Kingston, Ulster County. In essence, these are huge parking lots for barges, many of which likely would contain volatile crude oil awaiting shipment to East Coast refineries.
In addition to posing a significant environmental risk—what one opponent has called “a disaster waiting to happen”—the plan could jeopardize the great strides communities have made in revitalizing their riverfronts. It also would imperil the region’s scenic splendor—imagine hiking to the top of a mountain only to gaze down upon a pileup of barges—as well as access to the river and the safety of those engaged in paddling, sailing and motorboating. For all of these reasons, the proposal has drawn condemnation from elected officials and environmental groups and is prompting extensiive press coverage.
The Coast Guard needs to hear from you
In a strongly worded letter to the USCG, Scenic Hudson expressed our deep concerns about the plan and the need for public involvement and transparency in the process. The USCG has agreed to conduct public hearings in riverfront communities next spring. In the meantime, it is seeking online public comments through Sept. 7.
We urge you to join us in speaking out against this ill-conceived proposal. To do so, visit this page and click on the “Comment Now!” button. Let the USCG know that this plan endangers all the work we’ve accomplished to make the Hudson River cleaner and more accessible—the foundation of the valley’s $5-billion tourism economy and the region’s ongoing economic development.
Peekskill Post: Though it was not exactly a kumbaya moment, Republicans and Democrats on the Peekskill Common Council agreed Monday night that a federal government plan to anchor barges containing oil in the waters of the Hudson River not far from Peekskill should not move ahead.
“If ever there was an issue that called for a bipartisan approach, it is our environment and in this case the suggested anchoring of oil barges off our coastline,” said Councilwoman Kathie Talbot, a Democrat.
While the Republicans on the council agreed with Talbot, there was confusion about the process in which the council was to show its unity on the issue.
Talbot said she was under the impression that a joint letter with signatures from each member of the council was be sent to the United States Coast Guard, expressing the city’s bi-partisan opposition to the federal government’s plan.
When Mayor Frank Catalina, a Republican, said a letter with his signature (which is included in this article) had already been emailed to the Coast Guard objecting to the plan, Talbot said she was disappointed that it had to become political. Catalina said that a separate, joint letter, was awaiting signatures from each member of the council. Read more. (Photo credit: A Moveable Bridge)
Daily Freeman: Dutchess County Legislator Joel Tyner, D-Clinton, will host a forum Aug. 10 at 5:30 p.m. on the proposal to establish new anchorage sites for commercial shipping on the Hudson River.
The forum will take place at Rhinebeck Town Hall, 80 E. Market St.
A request for the anchorages was made in January by the Maritime Association of the Port of NY/NJ Tug and Barge Committee, the Hudson River Port Pilots Association, and the American Waterways Operators. Under the proposal, the Kingston Flats South Anchorage Ground could accommodate up to three vessels, the Port Ewen Anchorage Ground would allow one vessel, the Big Rock Point Anchorage Ground south of Port Ewen could handle four vessels and the Milton Anchorage Ground could be used by two vessels.
Coast Guard officials have set a Sept. 7 deadline for comments here.
Daily Freeman: The U.S. Coast Guard’s plan to establish 10 new designated anchorages along the Hudson River should not be implemented until the public is given an opportunity to provide input, according to New York Democratic Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.
The plan calls for the ports from Kingston to Yonkers to allow commercial vessels and barges to anchor along the Hudson River at designated anchorage sites. Currently there is only one designated area and vessels are making emergency stops at other locations.
The two lawmakers said that while the Coast Guard has cited the need to create those new anchorages for safety reasons, many residents and local public officials are concerned that formalization of areas for vessels and barges to anchor along the river could impact waterfront development projects as well as the environment.
Schumer and Gillibrand said that while the comment period for this first stage of the proposal process runs until September 7, the deadline for the Coast Guard to call for a public hearing was June 30. Read more.
Daily Voice: Residents are being asked to voice their opinion and help save the beauty and cherished natural resources of the Hudson River from 10 new proposed anchorage locations by the United States Coast Guard.
At a recent press conference held at the Hudson Valley Marine, State Sen. Terrence Murphy, and Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino, along with other residents, environmentalist and local leaders, voiced their opposition to the project.
“There are four main issues with this proposal: One, the lack of transparency. Two, it’s a navigational hazard. Three, it’s an environmental hazard waiting to happen. Four, this is a homeland security nightmare,” Murphy said.
The Coast Guard recently unveiled its agenda calling for the additional anchorages on the Hudson River for commercial vessels such as industrial barges to drop anchor. Among the 10 spots are locations in Westchester including Yonkers, Montrose and Verplanck.
“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 okay,” said Astorino. “This plan would create a giant parking lot for massive barges and other commercial vessels just yards from our shores, and there needs to be a process to fully vet this proposal in the most transparent manner possible.” Read more.