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Scenic Hudson Requests Homeland Security Secretary Halt Plan for New Hudson River Barge Anchorages

Ned Sullivan
Tel: (845) 473-4440 x224

Letter cites major threats to environment, public health and economy

HUDSON VALLEY—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.

Public urged to support Scenic Hudson’s call to end rulemaking process

In addition Scenic Hudson is urging the public to contact Secretary Johnson and support its call for an immediate end to the rulemaking process. To email:

Mr. Sullivan’s letter to Secretary Johnson describes how the new anchorages could provide targets for terror attacks—two are located within three miles of the Indian Point nuclear plant—and that increased traffic of barges filled with crude oil and other hazardous materials raises the potential for collisions and spills, “which in the tidal Hudson would be difficult, if not impossible, to clean up without incurring immediate and long-term damage to drinking water resources and prime wildlife habitat.” In addition, the letter states that the anchorages could “desecrate world-class scenic treasures, including magnificent views of the Palisades and Hudson Highlands” that are a foundation of the Hudson Valley’s $5.2-billion tourism economy.

The USCG has not demonstrated a need for new anchorages based on navigational safety.

“Establishing these anchorages could turn the Hudson into a crude oil superhighway, increasing the risk of catastrophic spills that could undo the billions of dollars invested to protect the river and revitalize communities along it. In the tidal Hudson, a single spill could pollute downtown riverfronts, wetlands and other irreplaceable habitats from Kingston to New York City. Before he leaves office, I call on Secretary Johnson—a Hudson Valley native—to halt this rulemaking process. By doing so, he will ensure a brighter future for the Hudson River and people living along it, and burnish the Obama administration’s environmental legacy,” said Mr. Sullivan. (Here is the full text of Mr. Sullivan’s letter.)

Gov. Cuomo, the Department of State and other state agencies have openly expressed their reservations about the plan and have joined Scenic Hudson in requesting a full environmental review of the project, at a minimum. U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney has introduced a bill in Congress that would prohibit the establishment of new anchorages along the river. In addition, public comments submitted to the USCG from Hudson Valley environmental and business groups, mayors and county executives, and state and federal officials have expressed strong opposition to the proposal based on the negative impacts the anchorages could have on riverfront revitalization, fish and wildlife, tourism, quality of life, and public health and safety. (Here are Scenic Hudson’s detailed comments submitted to the USCG.)

About Scenic Hudson

Scenic Hudson works to protect and restore the Hudson River and its majestic landscape as an irreplaceable national treasure and a vital resource for residents and visitors. 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 almost 40,000 acres.