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NYS Senators To Hold Public Hearing On Proposed Anchorage Sites

WAMC, Allison Dunne

Four New York state lawmakers from the Hudson Valley are sponsoring a hearing Wednesday for the public to weigh in on a controversial U.S. Coast Guard proposal to establish up to 10 anchorage sites in the Hudson River.

The U.S. Coast Guard proposal is for the creation of up to 10 anchorage sites in the Hudson River to park as many as 43 commercial vessels between Yonkers and Kingston.  The hearing is being sponsored by state Senators David Carlucci, an Independent Democrat, and Republicans Bill Larkin, Terrence Murphy and Sue Serino. Environmental group Scenic Hudson of Poughkeepsie plans to deliver testimony at the hearing as well as submit public comments separately. Hayley Carlock is director of environmental advocacy for Scenic Hudson.

“The Coast Guard needs to hear from people in the Hudson Valley that we don’t want these anchorages, that they jeopardize our river, the scenic beauty of the Hudson Valley and the safety, frankly, of our communities with these volatile products that would be transported in very large volumes by these barges,” Carlock says.

She says it is imperative that the public weigh in against the proposal.

“My understanding is that this proposal was put forth to the public at the behest of industry who claims that we need these 43 new anchorages for safety reasons,” Carlock says. “And we need the public to come out in full force and say these anchorages are not necessary. There are plenty of provisions for emergency anchorages. The Coast Guard, to my knowledge, has never denied a request for an emergency anchorage. This isn’t a safety issue. This is an issue about timing the market and for crude oil and other petrochemicals being transported on the Hudson.”

Edward Kelly is executive director of the Maritime Association of the Port of New York/New Jersey.

“So this entire proposal to us constitutes one word — safety,” Kelly says.

His is one of three groups requesting the anchorage sites.

“It’s a good thing to move cargo by water. Water is the safest, most efficient and most environmentally friendly way to move cargo,” Kelly says. “The cargo they’re moving in these barges and various smaller vessels include home heating oil, gasoline, petroleum products that are used in the valley itself, salt, sand, aggregates, construction materials, etcetera, the majority of which is for use by people that live in the Hudson Valley itself.”

Kelly says crude oil is one of several products being transported. Here’s U.S. Coast Guard spokeswoman Chief Warrant Officer Allyson Conroy.

“So this public meeting that’s scheduled this week, it’s not Coast Guard sponsored. We are not part of the organization of it,” Conroy says. “We thank the elected officials and the environmental agencies getting together, organizing this so that everyone can talk about the proposed anchorages. We’re hoping out of this that there will be transcriptions and those transcriptions will then be sent to the official docket to become part of the record.”

She says the Coast Guard could hold public meetings in 2017 if the process moves on from the comment phase to the rulemaking phase. The public comment period ends December 6.

In August, Senator Murphy stood with a number of elected officials, including the Dutchess and Westchester county executives, saying the proposal does not hold water.

“The number-one concern is the environmental impact that it could possibly have on the Hudson River. This is such a pristine river that we all kind of grew up on, and homeland security,” Murphy said.

The Maritime Association’s Kelly says he will speak at Wednesday’s public hearing.

“There is no disruption. There is no infrastructure to be constructed,” Kelly says. “And this is to accommodate current traffic that’s on the river.”

Wednesday’s hearing hosted by Murphy and the other senators is at the Croton-on-Hudson Town Hall at 7 p.m. in Westchester County. In September, the Westchester County Board of Legislators unanimously passed a resolution opposing the anchorage sites proposal. And New York Democratic Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney recently announced legislation to prevent the establishment of any new anchorage sites in the Hudson River Valley.  

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