The Groundhog: If you’re an individual who has lived for an extended amount of time in the Hudson Valley, chances are that at least one important memory in your life is linked to the Hudson River. You may have proudly taken your parents or grandparents down there during a college visit, or attempted to woo a potential significant other with the sways of the water, or even just gone down by the docks with a few friends for a moment of peace and quiet after a stressful week. Whatever it may entail, these moments are made timeless and memorable by the picturesque scenery of the river, a feeling that is seldom replicated in other locations.
Now imagine those same moments, interrupted by a noisy, smoke billowing, thousand pound oil barge… Not quite the same impact, is it?
That sort of big-business interruption to peaceful river life is one of the many reasons behind the continuing controversy over the U.S. Coast Guard’s proposal for oil barge anchorages sites on the Hudson. The preliminary concept, which would introduce ten locations from Yonkers to Kingston for oil barges to dock, has been widely protested by Hudson Valley residents, politicians, and environmental activists, inciting a months long struggle between the financial interests of federal government and the culture of small town society. Read more.
A series of short films produced by environmentalist, adventurer and filmmaker Jon Bowermaster will highlight the growing threats to the river environment and the local towns. The films will feature segments on the transportation of crude oil by rail along the river, the PCB’s still remaining after the required cleanup from General Electric, the shutdown of the aging Indian Point nuclear plant, pipelines, and the proposed barge anchorage sites. The 45-minute presentation “The Hudson: A River at Risk” will take place February 16 at historic St. James’ Chapel, 10 East Market Street, Hyde Park (across for the Post Office) at 7:00 p.m. as part of the Fireside Chat series sponsored by St. James’ Church. Immediately following the screening, filmmaker Jon Bowermaster, Jeremy Cherson from Riverkeeper and David Ray, Town Councilman from Hyde Park will discuss the implications of these projects. Read more.
Hudson Valley One: Saugerties town government has come out in opposition to the Pilgrim Pipelines. Saying it fears the possibility of “the threat of leakages, spills, fires and other types of catastrophes that can seriously harm communities like Saugerties through which the products are transported,” the Saugerties town board voted at its February 1 meeting to urge the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the state Thruway Authority, the agencies scrutinizing the project, to deny it the use of the Thruway corridor.
The town board also urged the United States Coast Guard to deny permits for anchorages along the Hudson River of any shipping carrying Bakken crude oil. The only way Bakken shale oil should be permitted to be transported along railway lines through Saugerties would be if “rail, car and other railroad safety issues are resolved and the at-grade private crossings in the Town of Saugerties are eliminated.” Read more.
Kingston Daily Freeman: When the proposal to create large-vessel anchorage grounds at 10 locations on the Hudson River between Kingston and Yonkers was announced, Yonkers Mayor Michael Spano brought together a handful of municipalities in Westchester County to oppose the plan.
And as the U.S. Coast Guard reviews 10,206 public comments on the proposal, that group, the Hudson River Waterfront Alliance, is expanding up the Hudson River.
Spano and environmental leaders on Tuesday briefed local officials from Dutchess and Orange counties about the anchorages plan and the opposition.
Beacon Mayor Randy Casale was the first to step up after Tuesday’s meeting to seek his city’s commitment to join.
“That is what we are going to do to continue to fight so they don’t put the anchorages here, so they don’t make a parking lot out of the Hudson River,” Casale said. Read more.
Ossining Patch: A broad coalition including Riverkeeper, Scenic Hudson, Albany County, a public housing tenants association, and other environmental and conservation organizations intend to file a federal court lawsuit against Global Companies for failure to have a valid Clean Air Act permit to operate its crude-by-rail terminal in Albany’s South End.
The issue for Riverkeeper and Scenic Hudson is the danger of crude oil shipments to the Hudson River — whether by train or barge.
“With very little public awareness and no study of environmental impacts, the oil industry has made the Hudson Valley into one arm of a dangerous “virtual pipeline” for crude oil that snakes thousands of miles by rail, barge and ship from oil fields in North Dakota, Canada and elsewhere, to refineries on both coasts,” Riverkeeper says on its website. Read more
Riverkeeper: Join Riverkeeper and the Ossining Documentary and Discussion Series for a screening of Jon Bowermaster’s newest installment of Hudson River at Risk films on anchorages, PCB contamination, and the AIM and Pilgrim Pipeline projects – three major threats to our Hudson River. Panelists include Academic and Activist Zephyr Teachout, Riverkeeper’s Vice President of Advocacy John Lipscomb, Ossining High School Teacher Artie Carlucci, and Environmental Justice Campaigner Robert Friedman from NRDC.
WHEN: February 10, 2017: 7:00PM to 9:00PM
WHERE: Ossining Public Library, 53 Croton Avenue, Ossining, NY map
Creating a 2,400-acre floating industrial storage area for massive barges loaded with millions of gallons of explosive, health-threatening chemicals is a pathway to potential disaster. Tell the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to terminate the U.S. Coast Guard rulemaking and protect the Hudson River from this harmful proposal. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Times Union: The current proposal to house crude oil barges at various points along the Hudson River harkens to a time when it was used to park vessels before.
The Hudson River National Defense Fleet was established by Congress in 1946, one of several locations in the nation for storing warships, troop transports and cargo ships left over from World War II. The Hudson River fleet was first located at Tarrytown, then moved north to Jones Point opposite Peekskill. At its peak in 1965, 189 ships were anchored there in 10 rows reaching from near shore well out into the river.
Communities where the ships were anchored along the Hudson acquiesced. The ships were well-maintained, seldom moved and apparently did not leak fuel or oil. The ships were seen as a contribution to having a ready fleet in case of national emergency. Some ships were pressed into service during the Korean and Vietnam wars. Otherwise, the “ghost fleet,” as it was popularly called, led a quiet existence. A few ships were used in the late 1950s and early 1960s to store surplus wheat for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
In fact, the fleet became something of a tourist attraction. A New York Times article in June 1963, “Sunday Drive Up the Hudson,” included the anchored ships among what it called “fabulous views.”
Not everyone agreed. Theresa Scozzafava, owner of Barney’s Restaurant at Jones Point, sued in federal court, claiming the ships were anchored on what she called her “front lawn” because she owned out into the river and that they were obstructing her view. The court ruled against her, calling the anchoring of the ships “an exercise of the government’s sovereign power to regulate commerce and navigation.” Read more. (Photo: Hudson River Reserve Fleet)
Scenic Hudson will hold a community forum and screening of three short films your seat at Upstate Films in Rhinebeck. The screening includes acclaimed filmmaker Jon Bowermaster’s Hudson River at Risk series as well as a new Scenic Hudson 3D video simulation of barge anchorages proposed for the Hudson River. The proposed Hudson River anchorages would increase the risk of spills of volatile crude oil and other hazardous materials, threaten the Hudson Valley’s scenic splendor, and damage irreplaceable aquatic habitats.
Scenic Hudson encourages everyone to join us after the films for a Q&A session with President Ned Sullivan, Director of Environmental Advocacy Hayley Carlock and Director of Public Policy and Special Projects Andy Bicking. They and Jon Bowermaster will discuss the films and the regional threat the anchorages pose to the Hudson Valley. Take collective action against this proposal and prevent the Hudson River from becoming a parking lot for crude oil barges and a super-highway for fossil fuels!
WHERE: Upstate Films, 6415 Montgomery Street / Rt.9, Rhinebeck
TICKETS: Free and open to the public. Due to limited space, please RSVP here to reserve a seat: www.scenichudson.org/events
QUESTIONS? Contact Scenic Hudson Advocacy Associate Rebecca De La Cruz: email@example.com, 845-473-4440, ext. 139.
The Hudson Independent: Last month, several elected officials and students from Pace University’s Environmental Policy Clinic called on the U.S. Coast Guard to scrap plans to create 43 new anchorages in 10 locations along the Hudson River after it was revealed the federal agency allegedly violated its own protocol.
At a frigid press conference at Kingsland Point Park in Sleepy Hollow on December 5, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, state senators Terrence Murphy (R/Yorktown), David Carlucci (D/Clarkstown) and Sue Serino (R/Hyde Park), professor John Cronin from Pace University and students from the Pace Environmental Policy Clinic charged the Coast Guard was circumventing its own procedures to benefit the shipping industry with anchorages for oil barges from Yonkers to Kingston.
“This is not about politics. It is about doing the right thing for the people who live in the Hudson Valley,” said Murphy, who also asked the Coast Guard to extend the public comment period beyond December 6. Murphy’s district extends into Sleepy Hollow. Read more.
Gotham Gazette: Who is responsible for keeping the Hudson River free from pollution? Actually, it is a responsibility shared by Federal and State authorities. Sometimes they agree; other times, they may be at cross purposes. That can make for some interesting political debate and interplay between the federal and state governments….
A consortium of maritime and oil companies has proposed construction of 10 “anchorages” along the shores of the Hudson River, from Kingston to Yonkers, to store large barges carrying crude oil south from Albany. The anchorages would include a total of 40 berths, or parking spaces, for the ships. The proposal resulted from a decision by Congress last year ending a ban on export of oil produced in the lower 48 states.
Proponents say that the action by Congress will increase the amount of oil moving by rail to the Port of Albany and then down the Hudson by boat. Their proposal will produce jobs, help lower energy costs, and boost the economy, they say.
Opponents counter that the anchorages are unnecessary and will cause environmental damage to the river. Read more.
Highlands Current: Three weeks after the Coast Guard closed public comment on a proposal to add 10 anchorage sites for oil barges on the Hudson River, including a site between Beacon and Newburgh, the U.S. Department of Transportation is asking for feedback on proposed restrictions on trains that carry oil along its shore.
The comment period was scheduled to open Friday, Dec. 30 and continue through Feb. 28.
New York has pushed for stricter regulation of the oil trains, often derided as “bomb trains” because of their potential explosive power. In neighboring Quebec, a 2013 oil-train accident triggered an explosion and fire, killing 47 people and destroying part of a village.
Working through its Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, DOT wants public input as it considers whether to establish limits on the vapor pressure of hazardous fuel shipped by rail. Higher vapor pressures contribute to crude oil’s volatility and flammability.
DOT published its notice in November, nearly a year after New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman petitioned the agency to limit vapor pressure to less than 9 pounds per square inch (PSI). The agency’s announcement specifically referred to Schneiderman’s request but asks only for reaction to setting “a range of vapor pressure thresholds,” not just below 9.
According to the Attorney General’s Office, some types of oil, such as the crude from the Bakken Shale formations in North Dakota, have the highest vapor pressures and thus pose a greater threat than other fuels. It noted the Quebec accident involved a train carrying oil with a PSI above 9. Read more.
New York Law Journal: New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is asking federal officials to reject the proposed designation of 10 new anchorage sites in the Hudson River between Albany and New York City for petroleum-laden vessels.
Schneiderman said in a letter to Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson that the U.S. Coast Guard should withdraw its proposal and return, if it can, with a more complete plan that includes a recommendation from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Coast Guard is under control of the department.
Any plan should demonstrate that anchorage berths “would cause no harm to riverbed infrastructure and the aesthetic, environmental, historic and recreational benefits” of the Hudson, Schneiderman said in his Dec. 23 letter.
The Coast Guard received more than 9,000 comments during a six-month public comment period about its proposal. Most of the vessels in question are barges, up to 600 feet long, which carry heating oil, gasoline and other petroleum products.
The Port of Albany has been modified since 2012 to handle crude oil transported by rail from the Bakken fields of North Dakota for transfer by barge to New York City and beyond. Read more.
Yonkers Daily Voice: The Westchester County officials protesting to the U.S. Coast Guard’s proposal to create riverfront anchorage sites for bargesalong the Hudson River got a strong supporter this week in the form of New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
This week, Schneiderman requested that U.S. Homeland Security call on the Coast Guard to withdraw their proposal, which includes the installation of 16 anchor berths across 715 acres on the water between Yonkers and Dobbs Ferry.
Since it was announced earlier this year, the Coast Guard’s proposal has been under fire by local officials, who believe it would harm the environment and aesthetics of dozens of communities.
“The Hudson River offers a unique natural beauty, and these communities tout the proximity to it as an enormous economic asset,” Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins said. “These towns have invested millions of dollars to spur economic development along the river under the assumption this beauty would not be infringed upon.
“These anchorages threaten the aesthetic value of the wonderful views the river affords and will obstruct free use of the river for boaters, kayakers, swimmers and others.” Read more.
News 12 Westchester: There’s a new push to stop a proposal by the U.S. Coast Guard to anchor 10 barges along the Hudson River.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is requesting that U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson order the Coast Guard to withdraw its plans.
The Coast Guard wants to establish the anchor sites for 43 vessels in the Hudson from Yonkers to Kingston.
Schneiderman calls the Hudson River a priceless natural resource and says this plan would threaten that.
WAMC: The debate over whether the U.S. Coast Guard should be allowed to establish anchorage sites on the Hudson River is continuing. Calls to halt a rulemaking process to the anchorages are being directed to the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security. New York’s attorney general and a Poughkeepsie-based environmental group have now sent letters. Meanwhile, Coast Guard personnel are poring over thousands of comments it received on the proposal.
The environmental protection bureau chief from New York Attorney General Eric Schniederman’s office wrote to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson December 23, asking him to instruct the Coast Guard to withdraw the proposal to create up to 10 anchorage sites in the Hudson River to park as many as 43 commercial vessels between Yonkers and Kingston. The letter cites a lack of manifest need for long-term parking for barges containing oil or other materials. The letter also says that it does not appear the Army Corps Chief of Engineers has recommended such a proposal.
In an emailed statement, Schneiderman says, “The Hudson River is one of our state’s greatest natural resources, and we must remain vigilant in protecting it. The proposal to add 43 new anchorage sites along the river doesn’t pass the test. I join the thousands of New Yorkers who have raised serious concerns about the proposal in urging its withdrawal by the Coast Guard.” Read more.
MidHudsonNews.com: An environmental leader, who is involved in the fight against placing commercial anchorages in the Hudson River between Yonkers and Kingston, said this battle is believed to be the biggest one in the region’s history of protecting the environment.
John Lipscomb is the vice president for advocacy for the Riverkeeper organization and he said all other environmentalists he has consulted agree this is the largest effort of its kind in Hudson Valley history.
“I am including the famous battle over Storm King and I am including the battle over PCBs against General Electric, nothing has brought out this kind of bipartisan and wide, widespread public response,” Lipscomb said. “There has never been, in the history of the Hudson Valley, an outpouring of concern for the river that even approaches what we just saw.”
When the deadline for public comment ended earlier this month, over 10,000 were submitted and Lipscomb said when you factor in municipal leaders who represent large constituencies, the comments represent 1.5 million.
He said that win or lose this issue will go down in history “as a moment that finally galvanized the entire valley to come out and protect the river.”
The proposal for the anchorages was advanced to the US Coast Guard by the commercial shipping industry, which must consider it.
The office of New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has written a letter to Jeh Charles Johnson, Secretary of Homeland Security, urging the Coast Guard to withdraw the proposal for 43 new anchorages on the Hudson River.
The letter, which comes from the Attorney General’s Environmental Protection Bureau Chief Lemuel M. Srolovic, gives three reasons why the proposal should be withdrawn:
“No one has demonstrated a manifest need for so many new anchorage sites along the river; no one has demonstrated a need for long-term anchorage at any of those specific locations; and we have seen no recommendation supporting these designations from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, as required by statute.”
The letter cites several examples of the Hudson River’s aesthetic, environmental, historic, recreational and commercial significance. It observes, for example, that “the federal government has designated the Hudson River National Historic Landmark District, the southern half of which is located along a stretch of the river where the contemplated Kingston Flats, Port Ewen and Big Rock Point berths would be located.”
Given that thousands of comments were filed with the Coast Guard concerning the ways in which the new anchorages and increased commercial traffic would harm New Yorkers and others, the Attorney General’s letter focuses on how the proposal has failed to fulfill the legal requirements for new anchorages.
Specifically, explains Srolovic, federal regulations grant the authority to establish anchorage berths to the Secretary of Homeland Security, and for the Hudson River that authority has been delegated to the Commander of the First Coast Guard District.
According to the statute (33 U.S.C. § 471), (1) it must be “manifest… that the maritime or commercial interests of the United States require such anchorage grounds for safe navigation,” and (2) “the establishment of such anchorage grounds shall have been recommended by the [U.S. Army Corps] Chief of Engineers.”
According to Srolovic, neither of these two conditions have been met.
The Maritime Association of the Port of New York/New Jersey — the organization that requested the anchorages — claimed that the anchorages were necessary in order to accommodate the “projected growth” in shipping along the river, due at least in part to the lifting of the ban on export of crude oil.
But as Srolovic points out, “no data supporting such projected growth, either in crude oil or any other type of shipment, has been provided.” In fact, the letter goes on to say, “there is at present no basis to anticipate any material growth in oil shipments beyond the 2014 level.”
As for the fact that 42 of the 43 anchorages would be “long term,” Srolovic indicates that his office has learned that this means barges could anchor for up to 30 days. “We are concerned,” he writes, “that such long-term anchorage would essentially allow barges to serve as oil storage facilities on the river.”
Rather than contributing to navigational safety — as the proponents of the proposal claim — such long-term anchorages “would create significant security and hazard risks.”
Finally, writes Srolovic, contrary to the statutory requirement, “it does not appear that the Army Corps Chief of Engineers has recommended these anchorage berths.”
Based on these factors, then, the Attorney General’s office urges the Secretary of Homeland Security “to instruct the Coast Guard to withdraw this proposal in light of the lack of ‘manifest’ need for any new berths.”
The full letter can be found here.
Westfair Communications: An environmental group has asked the Department of Homeland Security to stop a proposal to create anchorages on the Hudson River before Donald Trump becomes president.
Ned Sullivan, president of Scenic Hudson Inc., cited security concerns in a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson. The letter is dated Nov. 21 but released to the news media on Dec. 20.
Maritime interests have asked the U.S. Coast Guard, an agency of Homeland Security, to establish 10 anchorages for 43 vessels, from Yonkers to Kingston. The Coast Guard has logged more than 10,000 public comments on an advanced notice of public rulemaking.
An advanced notice is not an actual proposed rule, Sullivan said in a phone interview, so he believes Johnson has the authority to direct the Coast Guard to stop the process. Read more.
Hudson Valley News Network: Scenic Hudson has asked U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson to terminate immediately the rulemaking process to establish 43 berths for commercial vessels at 10 new sites along the Hudson River. Secretary Johnson has the authority to halt the process because he oversees the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), which is considering the proposal.
In a letter to Secretary Johnson, Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan calls the plan “a pathway to potential disaster—for public health and safety, the environment and business interests.” He notes that the maritime industry’s request for the new anchorages is not based on enhancing navigational safety—the sole reason for establishing them—but to create a “2,400-acre floating industrial storage area for massive barges loaded with millions of gallons of explosive, health threatening chemicals.”
The anchorages will facilitate increased shipments of crude oil from the Port of Albany to refineries on the East Coast and overseas now that the federal ban on its exportation has been lifted.“My request is that you terminate the process…before the transfer of power to a new administration,” the letter states. Read more.
Hudson Valley communities from Yonkers to Newburgh to Kingston spoke out with a unified voice in opposition to the maritime industry’s proposal for 43 new berths in 10 locations along the river. During a 6-month comment period held by the Coast Guard as part of its “advance rulemaking” process, the response was unprecedented.
Here are some of the results:
- Over 10,000 comments submitted to the Coast Guard.
- Additional time granted for the public to speak out on the proposal. (Original September 7 deadline extended to December 6, 2016.)
- At least 34 local resolutions passed. (Please alert us if you know of additional resolutions not included on this list.)
- Over 1.5 million constituents represented by letters and resolutions from county and municipal governments.
- Critical comments submitted jointly by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Department of State.
- 39-page comment letter submitted by Riverkeeper, saying any formal proposal for anchorage grounds in the Hudson must undergo a comprehensive environmental review, including extended comment periods and public hearings in every affected county.
- Petitions circulated by the Hudson River Waterfront Alliance and state Sen. Terrence Murphy, engaging thousands of citizens.
- A compelling mini-documentary, “Anchors Away,” by National Geographic filmmaker Jon Bowermaster as part of his ongoing series, “The Hudson: A River at Risk.”
- Numerous editorials, including The New York Times’ “No Parking on the Hudson” and the more recent editorial with the same headline in the Albany Times Union. For a larger roundup of editorials, op-eds, letters to the editor and articles visit HudsonRiverAnchorages.org and the Hudson River Waterfront Alliance page.
Times Herald Record: A proposal to add 10 commercial shipping anchorages on the Hudson River between Albany and Yonkers has flooded the U.S. Coast Guard with more than 10,000 public comments, a deluge that’s expected to take months to digest.
Many of the comments expressed opposition to the plan. Environmental watchdogs including Hudson Riverkeeper and Scenic Hudson, have argued that it would industrialize the river with an increase in shipping, particularly crude oil, and thereby increase the risk of catastrophic spills.
Requests for the anchorages have been received by the Coast Guard from the Maritime Association of the Port of New York and New Jersey, the Hudson River Port Pilot’s Association, and the American Waterways Operators.
Their argument is that the anchoring locations would increase safety by giving vessels a place to stop in times of emergencies.
Thomas Feeney of Kingston, who identified himself as a U.S. Merchant Mariner, commented that the existing four anchorages were insufficient. Valuable time to address emergencies – mechanical, medical, poor visibility – could be lost because vessels need Coast Guard approval to drop anchor elsewhere….
A review by the Times Herald-Record of several months of comments indicated that most were opposed to the plan. One of the more common arguments was that the anchorages threatened to negate decades of efforts to clean up the river.
“We can’t backtrack on all of that progress,” Jonathan Altschuler commented.
He and Harold Chorny, who said he swims, boats and fishes in the river, wanted a full environmental review, a process that groups including Riverkeeper have advocated.
“I hope to see it grow cleaner, not more polluted,” Chorny wrote. Read more.
New York Law Journal: The U.S. Coast Guard said it has received more than 9,000 public comments about its proposal to designate 10 new areas on the Hudson River where petroleum-laden vessels may anchor.
Energy and transportation industry groups say the anchorage sites are needed to accommodate a surge in commercial traffic due in part to the lifting of the U.S. ban on crude oil experts. But critics, including environmental groups, say the plan would turn a stretch of one of the most scenic rivers in the United States into a “parking lot” for barges that are up to 600 feet long—a charge that is denied by a waterways operating group…
“Of primary concern, the cumulative impact of designating all the proposed anchorage areas would appear to be a dramatic increase in the number of anchorage locations and intensity of use,” the deputy secretary of state, Sandra Allen, wrote on behalf of the agencies. “The supporting information lacks sufficient justification and detail on the existing and anticipated use of these areas to address these concerns.” Read more.
River Journal Online: Scenic Hudson has submitted formal comments on the rulemaking process of the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) regarding proposed new anchorage grounds on the Hudson River. As a result of the many significant threats described in the comments, the organization has called on the USCG to terminate this process immediately. At the same time, Scenic Hudson commended Gov. Cuomo, the Department of State (DOS) and other state agencies for expressing their concerns about the anchorages proposal.
In a letter sent to the USCG yesterday, Deputy Secretary of State Sandra Allen called the plan an “unacceptable solution” that would cause a “dramatic increase in the number of anchorage locations and intensity of use.” It goes on to call for an environmental assessment of the project, at a minimum.
The letter was sent on behalf of the DOS, the Department of Environmental Conservation, Department of Public Service, and Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
The proposal, which calls for establishing 10 additional anchorages with space for 43 vessels between Yonkers and Kingston, is a request from the maritime industry, which anticipates transporting higher volumes of crude oil through the region due to the lifting of a federal ban on its exportation. Overall spanning some 2,400 acres, the anchorages would serve as offshore warehouses where flotillas of barges—each longer than a football field and carrying up to 4 million gallons of volatile crude oil—could wait in line to off-load their cargo at New Jersey, Canadian and overseas refineries.
The increased barge traffic facilitated by the anchorages would dramatically increase the likelihood of accidents and spills. In the tidal Hudson—especially with the current lack of adequate spill-response safeguards—a crude oil discharge is nearly impossible to clean up. While barges are required to have double hulls, collisions or grounding on a hard object could penetrate both hulls. Given the river’s tides, a spill could foul waterfronts and wetlands from Kingston to New York Harbor. Read more.
Daily Freeman: U.S. Coast Guard officials enter the evaluation phase of a proposed Hudson River anchorage plan with 10,206 comments to review and a cloud of environmental battles looming over a process that has pitted longtime Hudson River restoration against a shipping industry that wants more say over where it parks its barges.
The initial comment period closed on Dec. 6 with a Coast Guard notice promising to “ensure transparency with the public on this process” of evaluating an industry request for 10 new anchorage sites on the Hudson River between Yonkers and Kingston.
“The Coast Guard is committed to publicly-informed decision making when considering new anchorage grounds and what form possible regulations should take,” officials wrote.
However, the six-month comment period closed with a flurry of opposition that had Pace University outlining how the process was less than transparent and apparently violated Coast Guard policy that should have resulted in scheduling public meetings on the proposal.
“If followed, the (Waterways Management policy) procedures would have assured a transparent decision-making and public review process, enabled the Coast Guard and the public to make an early determination regarding the merit of the … special anchorage request, avoided unnecessary public controversy, provided the benefit of a wide range of public and private maritime expertise, and created open public dialogue and discussion,” wrote university officials. “The Coast Guard failed on each of these counts.”
Coast Guard spokeswoman Chief Petty Officer Allyson Conroy on Friday disagreed with the Pace University assessment and said the comment period was the first stage of a longer review process that will include public meetings if the proposal moves forward. Read more.
Westfair Communications: The U.S. Coast Guard has proposed and enacted two rules concerning anchorages on the Hudson River in the past two years. Each received one public comment.
A 1999 rule that established an anchorage at Hyde Park drew only two letters.
In the latest proposal, to establish 10 anchorage grounds from Yonkers to Kingston, the Coast Guard logged 10,176 comments.
Public opinion, as measured by a sampling of the comments, is overwhelmingly opposed to new anchorage grounds.Business and environmental groups have united in opposition. Elected officials, from towns along the river and all the way to the governor’s office, have voiced disapproval.
“It’s a mystery why we’re getting this much pushback,” said Edward Kelly. He is executive director of the Maritime Association of the Port of New York / New Jersey, one of several maritime organizations that prompted the preliminary rulemaking proposal to create anchorages.
The maritime interests say they need places to park tugs, barges and ships during emergencies and bad weather.It has been routine practice for many years to pull aside in the very places they have proposed. But last year, the Coast Guard issued a safety bulletin that reminded commercial operators that they may not park in unofficial locations unless there is a great emergency.
The proposed rule would make the customary locations official. But the proposal has hit a nerve. Read more.
NRDC: In a new report, NRDC examines the impact a suite of new tar sands oil infrastructure proposals could have on America’s coasts and rivers if they were built. Ranging from coast to coast and leaving hardly any major U.S. waterway free from threat, these projects would facilitate more than 1.6 million barrels per day of new production and export capacity for Alberta’s tar sands industry or 60% growth over today’s levels. To move this massive amount of tar sands to refining markets in California, the Mid-Atlantic, and the Gulf Coast, industry will rely on at least 1,005 new tar sands tankers and barges—a 12-fold increase over the few vessels loaded today. In doing so, industry puts iconic landscapes including the Salish Sea, San Francisco Bay, the Gulf of Mexico, the Florida Keys, Cape Cod, and the Gulf of Maine at risk from a tar sands oil spill. Meanwhile, our major rivers—the Hudson, Mississippi, and Columbia—could all be impacted by these projects and their tankers and barges. Highly endangered marine species like Washington’s Killer Whales and the Gulf of Maine’s North Atlantic right whales, billion dollar regional fisheries, and the critical coastal tourism industry could all be devastated in the event of a spill.
For these reasons, NRDC has joined seven other organizations with members across the country to call on our decision-makers to stop this dangerous tar sands tanker threat from ever coming to U.S. waters. Together, we have collected more than 200,000 signatures demanding action now and we will be taking this call to local, state, and federal lawmakers in the coming months. Meanwhile, in Canada and across the U.S., opposition to these projects grows daily. This is especially true for the first of these projects to be approved—Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline expansion. In British Columbia, where most of this pipeline would be built, opposition from First Nations, cities and towns along its route, and residents on the British Columbian coastline is leading to a massive mobilization to stop the pipeline from ever being built. Read more. The report is here.
Times Union: If a surge of Canadian tar sands oil heads south in coming years as the industry is planning, it could mean an oil-laden barge heads down the Hudson River from Albany every third day, according to a report issued Wednesday by the environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council.
While that oil would be a relative trickle in the surge of crude that the industry plans to export by water, rail or pipeline through other locations, like Portland, St. Louis, Vancouver and the Canadian province of New Brunswick, it still would expose the Hudson to an environmentally catastrophic oil spill that would be practically impossible to clean up.
“Canadian oil producers have a scheme to flood us with dangerous tar sands oil. Their hopes to send hundreds of millions of barrels of tar sands oil into U.S. waters are truly alarming,” said Joshua Axelrod, lead author of the report and policy analyst for the NRDC’s Canada Project.
Times Union: A U.S. Coast Guard plan to allow floating barges full of crude oil to anchor for long periods of time on the lower Hudson River is not “an acceptable solution,” a top state official wrote Tuesday.
Deputy Secretary of State Sandra Allen raised concerns to the Coast Guard over the plan, which would allow up to 43 barges — each of which could potentially contain enough oil to fill six Olympic-sized swimming pools — to anchor along 70 miles of the Hudson between Kingston and Yonkers.
Allen called Coast Guard information about the plan “limited” and voiced concerns about “a dramatic increase in the number of anchorage locations and intensity of use.” She added that the state opposes proposed long-term use of the anchorages.
“At a minimum,” Allen wrote, the Coast Guard should conduct an environmental review of the proposal.
Her letter, which represented a consensus among the state Department of State, Department of Environmental Conservation, Department of Public Service, and Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, did not raise potential environmental impacts, but did question how barge anchorages would impact endangered Atlantic and shortnose sturgeon. Read more.
lohud.com: The Coast Guard says it is following its procedures related to the proposed Hudson River anchorages just fine.
Monday, a group of Pace University students at the school’s Environmental Policy Clinic argued in a letter to Coast Guard Commandant Paul Zukunft that the agency should have carried out two studies and sought public comment as soon as receiving the shipping industry’s proposal to add 10 new commercial shipping anchorages from Yonkers north to Kingston.
But the Coast Guard says the anchorages are in the beginning of a lengthy process that will see environmental studies and public meetings held after public comment online closes Tuesday at midnight. Read more.