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Recent State and Federal Government Announcements Good News for Hudson River Valley

Jay Burgess
Director of Communications, Scenic Hudson, Inc.
Tel: (845) 473-4440 x222 Cell: (914) 489-0362 Fax: (845) 473-0740

HUDSON VALLEY, N.Y.—A clean, healthy environment is vital for vibrant communities and local economies in the Hudson Valley, and recent actions by New York State government and a federal agency represent positive news.

Yesterday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced the timely opening of the first span of the new bridge across the Hudson. As the construction of the new bridge is completed and the old Tappan Zee Bridge is removed, the effort stands as an important infrastructure investment that will provide safe passage across a vital section of the Hudson. Scenic Hudson and Riverkeeper worked to help ensure strong management of environmental impacts during construction. It is fitting the bridge will be named after former Gov. Mario M. Cuomo, whose environmental legacy has been previously acknowledged by Scenic Hudson as extremely important to the Hudson Valley.

On Aug. 23, nine states that form the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), including New York, announced important new plans for reducing emissions even further as we move towards the year 2020 and beyond. The RGGI states operate a regional cap and trade system, in which power generators limit carbon emissions to a certain level. The new proposal sets a downward trajectory for the regional cap for an additional 30-percent reduction in emissions between 2020 and 2030.

The air pollution reductions achieved by RGGI already save lives, prevent asthma attacks and save billions of dollars in health-related costs. The additional greenhouse gas reductions will also mitigate climate change, helping to reduce its impacts already being seen in the Hudson Valley, such as sea level rise and severe weather events. New York’s participation in this program is another example of its leadership in advancing low-carbon energy policy, which brings economic, public health, and environmental benefits to its residents.

Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan said, “New York State led the original creation of this program, and Governor Cuomo and Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos have now moved to take the public benefits to the next level.”

On Aug. 17, the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration (NOAA) took an important legal action affecting the U.S. Coast Guard’s plan to establish 2,400 acres of new Hudson River anchorages for barges carrying up to 4 million gallons of crude oil and other toxic chemicals. The action also will help protect the river and a key fish species from a variety of impacts. These anchorages, proposed by industry in anticipation of increased transport of explosive Bakken crude oil on the river, would present a reindustrialization of our waterfronts—threatening economic revitalization and bringing increased risks of oil spills and other disasters that would jeopardize public health and safety.

NOAA designated the entire corridor of the Hudson River from the Troy Dam to New York Harbor as critical habitat for the endangered Atlantic sturgeon. This iconic fish, which can live more than 60 years and grow to 14 feet and 800 pounds, with armored plates and a lineage that extends back to the dinosaurs, is a unique and unmistakable symbol of our Hudson River. The designation is important because now, before it can move forward with the anchorages, the Coast Guard must demonstrate that this project will not destroy or adversely modify this critical habitat. This is a significant hurdle because the proposed anchorages will result in scarring of the river bottom, where the sturgeon feed. Protecting this ancient fish and its habitat also protects the public and the Hudson Valley’s leading natural and economic resources.

About Scenic Hudson

Scenic Hudson preserves land and farms and creates parks that connect people with the inspirational power of the Hudson River, while fighting threats to the river and natural resources that are the foundation of the valley’s prosperity. A crusader for the valley since 1963, we are credited with saving fabled Storm King Mountain from a destructive industrial project and launching the modern grass-roots environmental movement. Today with more than 25,000 ardent supporters, we are the largest environmental group focused on the Hudson River Valley. Our team of experts combines land acquisition, support for agriculture, citizen-based advocacy and sophisticated planning tools to create environmentally healthy communities, champion smart economic growth, open up riverfronts to the public and preserve the valley’s inspiring beauty and natural resources. To date Scenic Hudson has created or enhanced more than 65 parks, preserves and historic sites up and down the Hudson River and conserved more than 40,000 acres.