Rep. Maloney Proposes Bill to Stop Hudson River Barge Plan
John Jordan | October 2016
NEWBURGH—U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney has submitted new federal legislation that would halt current, and any future United States Coast Guard proposal to expand mooring infrastructure on the Hudson River between Kingston and Yonkers.
The U.S. Coast Guard is considering the adoption of a new rule that would establish new anchorage grounds for commercial vessels along the Hudson River at 10 sites located between Yonkers and Kingston in Ulster County. The Cost Guard proposal calls for Westchester locations in Montrose and Yonkers. The Yonkers site, spanning about 715 acres, would be the largest. It would accommodate up to 16 vessels stretching from the Glenwood train station in Yonkers to the Dobbs Ferry train station. The Montrose anchorage would cover about 127 acres and accommodate up to three vessels just south of Montrose Point. North of there, an anchorage would cover about 98 acres for up to three vessels between Tompkins Cove and Verplanck.
The Coast Guard’s proposal has been opposed by a host of government, business and environmental groups. Maritime-oriented organizations such as the American Waterways Operators, the Maritime Association of the Port of New York/New Jersey and the Hudson River Pilots’ Association support the Coast Guard proposal.
Rep.. Maloney’s “Hudson River Protection Act,” would prohibit the Secretary of Homeland Security, and by extension the United States Coast Guard, from establishing new anchorage sites for vessels carrying hazardous or flammable material within five miles of an existing superfund site, a nuclear power plant, a site on the national register of historic places, or a critical habitat of an endangered species. While there are a wide range of sites in the Hudson Valley on the national register of historic places and critical habitats of endangered species, the superfund requirement alone covers the entire section of the Hudson River that the Coast Guard proposal is looking at for potential anchorages. Rep. Eliot Engel is an original co-sponsor of the bill.
“The Coast Guard’s proposal to install new anchorage sites is a bad idea and I will do whatever I can to stop it, including passing legislation on this issue,” said Rep. Maloney at a press conference staged on the Newburgh waterfront on Oct. 3. “We don’t need more anchorage sites, we don’t want them—it is too dangerous and too harmful to our Hudson River, which is still recovering from PCB contamination—the last thing we need are dangerous oil tankers parking on our shores.”
Rep. Maloney was joined at the press briefing by New York State Assemblymen Frank Skartados and James Skoufis, Orange County Deputy Executive Harry Porr and Newburgh City Councilman Torrance Harvey.
“The plan to locate numerous anchorages in the Mid-Hudson Valley will not just be an aesthetic blight, but it has the dangerous potential to pollute the river we have been fighting so hard to keep clean for the public to enjoy and for nature to thrive,” said Assemblyman Skartados.
Assemblyman James Skoufis added, “This legislation will ensure our access to the river is maintained, our property values aren’t adversely affected, and our region remains safe from needless spills.”
Rep. Maloney has called for a comprehensive environmental impact study and additional hearings before the proposal can advance. In August, Representative Maloney, along with U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, and fellow Representatives Nita Lowey and Engel, sent a letter to the Coast Guard requesting a 90-day extension to provide the public time to learn about the proposal and to offer comments. The Coast Guard later announced it was extending the public comment period to Dec. 6th. In September, Congressman Maloney questioned Coast Guard officials and secured a commitment from the Coast Guard to an open and transparent process, including public hearings.
According to a report in the Middletown Times-Herald Record, more than 3,200 groups and individuals have filed comments with the federal government thus far concerning the Hudson River barge plan. Among the business organizations that have voiced their opposition to the plan include the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors and The Business Council of Westchester.