Coast Guard suspends, but doesn’t kill, plan for Hudson River anchorage grounds

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Kingston Daily Freeman: The U.S. Coast Guard has shelved, but not outright killed, its controversial plan to create 10 anchorage grounds for large vessels on the Hudson River between Kingston and Yonkers.

“The anchorages proposal has been suspended because, after analyzing and reviewing the more than 10,000 comments that were received, it was brought to our attention that there’s a lot that we really don’t know about the Hudson River that we have to study before we make any sort of permanent decision,” Coast Guard spokeswoman Allyson Conroy said Wednesday.

Conroy, a chief warrant officer, said safety assessments and invitation-only workshops relative to the river will be conducted by the Coast Guard this fall.

“That will bring people to the table, [including] the industry people who use the Hudson River, people who use it recreationally and environmental stakeholders,” she said. “That way, we can have a better idea what is needed and maybe what is not needed.”

U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-Cold Spring, issued a statement Wednesday afternoon that said Coast Guard Adm. Steven D. Poulin was “effectively killing the proposal” by announcing he would “‘suspend future rulemaking decisions’ regarding the designation of additional anchorage sites in the Hudson River.” Conroy, though, said the Coast Guard rather was taking more time to assess the plan, especially in light of the volume of comments it received from opponents.

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

Poulin, in a separate statement, said: “… The PAWSA is not a substitute for the rulemaking process. The results of the PAWSA will help us determine what the next steps might be, after a more comprehensive assessment of risks. Any subsequent rulemaking regarding maritime commerce on the Hudson River will continue to be conducted through a transparent process of public notice and comment.”

Maloney, in a conference call later Wednesday, stood by his characterization of the anchorage proposal being dead despite the Coast Guard not going that far in its statements.

“What I’m telling you is that they would not have suspended the future rulemaking unless they intended to move in a different direction,” the congressman said. “This proposal is effectively dead.”  Read more.

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