YONKERS — On Monday, Representative Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18), Representative Eliot Engel (NY-16) and local stakeholders reaffirmed their commitment to stopping any Coast Guard proposals that include long-term anchorage sites for the Hudson River.
This followed a series of comprehensive workshops hosted by the Coast Guard that assessed safety on the Hudson River, including the potential need for new anchorage proposals. The group of officials also lauded the Coast Guard’s Ports and Waterways Safety Assessment (PAWSA) for its inclusion of local concerns.
“I’m happy to talk about improving safety measures for barge operators on the river – if a barge is caught in a serious storm, it should absolutely be able to pull over to protect the crew and the river,” said Rep. Maloney. “But there is no way I’ll entertain the possibility of any long-term anchorage sites. They’re not necessary for anyone’s safety and they’re a huge risk to the river and our local communities.”
“From day one my colleagues and I have said this anchorage proposal was a bad idea,” said Congressman Eliot Engel. “The impact it could have, not just on the river but on the communities that line the river like Yonkers and Hastings, might be severe. As such, we have opposed the Coast Guard’s plan every step of the way and will continue to do so as the PAWSA process moves forward. So far we have been successful in delaying this bad idea, but we can’t let up. Congressman Maloney and I will continue to look for ways to help preserve and protect our shoreline communities at the federal level, and I am proud to have partners at the local level like Mayor Spano who are also fighting vigorously against this plan.”
“The Hudson River is a national treasure, and I share the concerns of many of my constituents that new anchorage sites along the river would threaten the local environment and the survival of wildlife,” said Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY17/Rockland-Westchester). “Hudson Valley communities stand to be most at risk of safety hazards from expanded anchorage sites. I am glad that the Coast Guard has accepted local input and urge that these serious concerns be addressed before any decision is reached.”
“Through the support received from Congressmen Maloney and Engel, the Hudson River Waterfront Alliance has made great strides in preserving our Hudson River,” said Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano. “Now with convening of the recent PAWSA Workshops, it is clear that there’s little justification for the designation of additional anchorages on our Hudson River. We continue to advocate together so that shores of the Hudson remain a place where our residents and visitors can gather to live, work and play.”
“Scenic Hudson commends the Coast Guard for hosting the Hudson River PAWSA earlier this month,” said Hayley Carlock, Scenic Hudson Director of Environmental Advocacy. “As a participant in both PAWSA workshops, we demonstrated that establishing new anchorages is not necessary for navigational safety, and proposed alternative strategies that could make the Hudson River safer for navigation and environmental protection without requiring additional anchorages. We are pleased that among the PAWSA participants, no one advocated for long-term anchorages that could be used to store oil and other hazardous materials, though some parties continue to press for shorter-term anchorages. Scenic Hudson will continue to watchdog this process and advocate on behalf of the thousands of citizens who have opposed new anchorages because of the threat they pose to river safety, waterfront communities and economic revitalization.”
“Riverkeeper appreciates the extraordinary effort made by the Coast Guard. The PAWSA workshops were historic, because they brought together such a diverse range of interests – recreational boaters, biologists, community representatives, state and federal agencies, environmentalists and marine businesses of all kinds,” said John Lipscomb, Riverkeeper’s Patrol Boat Captain and Vice President for Advocacy. “I am confident that these discussions have fostered new understanding between stakeholders who have at times been at odds. We all want safety on the river. “The PAWSA process was never specifically intended to address the debate over additional federally designated ‘long term’ anchorages requested by the tug and barge industry – but this was a useful and necessary step toward resolving the issue. I am confident that the safety concerns of the maritime industry can be fully addressed without an increase in anchored commercial traffic on the Hudson. We look forward to the Coast Guard’s PAWSA report and further constructive dialog among all parties.”
In 2016, the Coast Guard issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking which would have allowed the construction of ten new anchorage sites along the Hudson River between Yonkers and Kingston. The sites would hold a total of 43 berths, including 42 long-term berths, for barges travelling downriver to the Port of New York.
Rep. Maloney expressed strong opposition to this proposal in Congressional hearings and demanded local stakeholders have a greater say in the process. The Coast Guard agreed to the request and extended the public comment period for the proposal. After receiving approximately 10,000 negative comments and overwhelming bipartisan opposition, the Coast Guard relented, and Rep. Maloney announced in June that the Coast Guard had suspended its proposal and instead opted to hold a series of PAWSA workshops. The aim of these workshops is to get a comprehensive look at the need for such a proposal as the result of safety concerns and seek out local input before proceeding with any possible future proposals.
The PAWSA workshops for the Hudson River were held on November 7-8 in Poughkeepsie and November 15-16 in Albany. In 1996, Congress directed the U.S. Coast Guard “to identify minimum user requirements for new Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) systems in consultation with local officials, waterways users and port authorities.” As a result, the Coast Guard created the PAWSA process, which was established to open a dialogue with waterway users and stakeholders. In July, Maloney announced his “Maloney Principles” for evaluating the PAWSA process for the Hudson River, which included a focus on facts, the inclusion of local perspectives and environmental concerns, and a commitment to transparency.
Two pieces of Rep. Maloney’s legislation to stop future anchorage proposals passed the House of Representatives earlier this year, but are waiting to be passed by the Senate and signed into law.
- The Anchorages Away Actwould require the Coast Guard, within 180 days of passage, to submit a report to the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on the impacts of proposed anchorages on existing superfund sites and habitats of endangered species, as well as the Coast Guard’s response to these concerns. The legislation would also bar the Coast Guard from establishing any new anchorages between Yonkers and Kingston until 180 days after the report is submitted. The bill passed the House as part of the Department of Homeland Security Authorization Act in July.
- Rep. Maloney also successfully passed an amendmentthrough the House of Representatives in September, which would defund any attempts to fund potential future anchorage sites between Yonkers and Kingston. The amendment passes as part of the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2018.