Help us Prevent the Hudson River from Becoming a “Parking Lot” for Crude Oil Barges!
The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) is considering adopting regulations that would establish 43 new places to anchor for commercial vessels along the Hudson River at 10 sites located between Yonkers, Westchester County, and Kingston, Ulster County. This proposal could open up over 2,400 acres of the river to new anchorages, in essence creating huge parking lots for barges—many of which likely would contain volatile crude oil awaiting shipment to East Coast refineries. See this flyer for the most up-to-date details.
The container ships carrying this volatile cargo can hold up to 4 million gallons. Any accident could be deadly. Even if there is not an explosion and fire, a leak—with currently inadequate response systems—could devastate the river.
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, as well as access to the river and the safety of those engaged in paddling, sailing and motorboating.
The public comment period for the proposal was extended through December 2016 in which over 10,000 comments were submitted to the USCG, with the overwhelming majority expressing opposition to the proposal. Scenic Hudson submitted our own comments citing the dangers that this proposal would have on public safety, the environment, drinking water intakes, scenic views, historic sites, and New York's $5.2 billion tourism economy.
The risk of transporting volatile mateirals via barge was made evident on April 4, 2017 when a vessel carrying 60,000 barrels of gasoline ran aground on the river's west side just offshore the Village of Catskill. Although no spills were reported, next time we may not be so lucky. Following this incident Scenic Hudson renewed its call for the USCG to terminate the rulemaking process for ths proposal.
Scenic Hudson has 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 in spring 2017.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Ask your state Senator and Assemblymember to co-sponsor bills (S.5197 and A.6825, respectively) that would allow the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to establish "Tanker Avoidance Zones" along the proposed route. DEC would identify sites that are not suitable for the placement of anchorages grounds based on their close proximity to critical fish and wildlife habitats, waterfront communities, drinking water infrastructure, and other considerations.
- Senate switchboard: (518) 455-2800
- Assembly switchboard: (518) 455-4100
Ask your Congressional Representative to support bill number H.R. 1504 that would modify the Rivers and Harbors Appropriation Act of 1915 in order to prevent the establishment of anchorage grounds for barges carrying volatile crude oil and other hazardous materials on U.S. navigable waters. New anchorage grounds would be prohibited from being located in "areas... within five miles of a nuclear power plant, a location on the national register of historic places, a superfund site, or critical habitat of an endangered species," - virtually anywhere on the river.
- U.S. Capitol switchboard: (202) 224-3121
Ask your town, village or city to pass a municipal resolution in support of S.5197/A.6825.
- Background: Information Sheet/Map, April 5, 2017
- Sample Municipal Resolution Supporting S.5197/A.6825, April 5, 2017
- Scenic Hudson Statement Regarding Hudson River Barge Accident, April 4, 2017
- NYS S.5197/A.6825 Proposed Legislation Regarding Petroleum-Bearing Vessels, March 13, 2017
- Help Needed from Trump, Cuomo to Halt Hudson River Threats, Ned Sullivan, Huffington Post, Jan. 31, 2017
- NYS Attorney General Letter to Jeh Johnson, Dec. 23, 2016
- Business Leaders Letter to Jeh Johnson, Dec. 16, 2016
- Scenic Hudson Comments to USCG, Dec. 6, 2016
- NYS Joint Agency Final Anchorages Comments to USCG, Dec. 6, 2016
- "Scenic Hudson Calls On USCG To Halt Anchorage Sites Proposal," WAMC Northeast Public Radio, Nov. 30, 2016
- Ned Sullivan Letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, Nov. 21, 2016
- "Business and Environmental Groups United To Protect Hudson River from Anchorages," Real Estate In-Depth, Nov. 2016
- Congressional Bill H.R. 6202: "Hudson River Protection Act," Sept. 28, 2016
- Newspaper Editorial: "No Parking on the Hudson," The New York Times, Sept. 19, 2016
- Newspaper Op-Ed: "River is No Place to Park Oil Barges," Times-Union, Aug. 15, 2016 (PDF, 225K)
- Map: Proposed Anchorage Sites (PDF, 550K)
- Visual Analysis: Kingston/Rhinecliff Area Anchorages (PDF, 2.3MB)
- Visual Analysis: Yonkers/Hastings Area Anchorages (PDF, 1MB)