A local congressman has introduced legislation he said will sink plans to install 10 new anchorage sites on the Hudson River.
U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-NY (18th District), said the U.S. Coast Guard wants to park commercial barges at sites from Yonkers to Kingston.
Maloney, a Cold Spring resident, said his Hudson River Protection Act would prohibit the secretary of Homeland Security, and by extension the U. S. 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, such as Indian Point in Buchanan, a site on the national register of historic places, or a critical habitat of an endangered species.
“The last thing we need are dangerous oil tankers parking on our shores,” said Maloney, who had already helped to get the Coast Guard to extend the public comment period on the plan.
In August, Maloney, along with U.S. Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and fellow U.S. Reps. Nita Lowey and Eliot Engel, sent a letter to the Coast Guard requesting a 90-day extension to give the public time to learn about the proposal and to offer comments.
The Coast Guard extended the comment period to Dec. 6.
In September, Maloney said, he questioned Coast Guard officials and secured a “commitment to an open and transparent process, including public hearings.”
The proposal, Maloney told Coast Guard officials the, “would effectively create an oil pipeline in the middle of the river, in addition to the massive number of oil trains and oil shipments that are occurring along the CSX line on the west bank of the Hudson River.”
The plan has generated an “intense amount of local concern,” he said, “that crosses all sorts of party lines and all sorts of layers of government.”
He cited opposition from Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano, who he said feels it would “destroy” the city’s waterfront, and from the county executives of Westchester, Dutchess and Ulster counties, and environmental groups such as Riverkeeper and Scenic Hudson.
“We feel that this is a solution in search of a problem,” the congressman said.
There is no need for additional anchorage sites, he said, for a number of reasons.
“First, they already exist; they are just spaced differently. Secondly, they are predicated on the notion that there will continue to be a massive increase in the number of oil shipments requirement down the Hudson when in fact, the significant compression in the price of oil globally has created a glut and we’ve seen a reduction in shipments.”
“This is a bad idea. We don’t want it,” Maloney said.
Coast Guard Rear Admiral Paul Thomas told Maloney in September that as a “previous captain of port” himself he is “very sensitive to local issues and the intense interest in what happens on local waterways.”
The increased traffic on the Hudson is, Thomas said, a “symptom” of increased pressures on the marine transportation system.
Coast Guard is trying to manage the increased risks of more crude oil moving down the river, Thomas said.
Thomas said the district commander, Adm. Steve Poulin, is committed to a “full and open dialogue” and is open to all options “out there to help manage this risk.”
There will be, Thomas said, “plenty of opportunity for comment.”
Maloney’s office will collect public comments and deliver them to the Coast Guard.
Residents can express their opinion by visiting: https://seanmaloney.house.gov/contact/email-me or by filing electronically with the Coast Guard by visiting: https://www.regulations.gov/comment?D=USCG-2016-0132-0001 .
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