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HV Reps Further Weigh In On Suspended Anchorages Proposal

WAMC, Allison Dunne

A New York congressman from the Hudson Valley is standing his ground after declaring last week that a U.S. Coast Guard proposal for Hudson River anchorage sites is effectively dead. Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney was the first to announce the Coast Guard’s decision to suspend the proposal and say it was killed. Others have been more circumspect in their descriptions.

Congressman Maloney, a Democrat who represents the 18th District, broke the news June 28 that the Coast Guard was suspending future rulemaking decisions on a proposal for up to 10 anchorage sites on the Hudson between Yonkers and Kingston. Maloney’s press office issued a release with the headline “Maloney Announces Major Victory: Coast Guard Agrees to Kill Anchorages Proposal.” During a press call the same day, he characterized the proposal as effectively dead. He reiterated his stance Thursday.

“I’m very confident saying that that idea as proposed is now dead. The fact that they want to talk about safety on the river, well, fine with me, we’re always willing to have that conversation,” Maloney says. “But if they think they’re going to resurrect this proposal somehow, well they’re going to find that our opposition has only gotten broader and stronger, and they’re going to have a problem with me.”

The Coast Guard had planned to release news of the suspension two days after Maloney. Chief Warrant Officer Allyson Conroy is U.S. Coast Guard spokeswoman and had this to say the day after Maloney spread the word.

“It is not effectively killed; it is suspended for the moment, that we can take part in this ports and waterways safety assessment,” says Conroy.

That assessment is a formal study the Coast Guard is directing and includes meetings of select workgroups. Republican Congressman John Faso’s 19th District includes the northernmost site of the proposed anchorages. Faso, speaking on WAMC’s Congressional Corner, says the Coast Guard is not giving up on the proposal.

“The Coast Guard is basically reassessing, and that’s really what I had been asking them to do in the amendment that was adopted in the Coast Guard reauthorization bill. And I chose that venue, that forum to put that amendment because I knew it was a bill that had to pass,” Faso says. “And we wanted to send a message to the Coast Guard and I think they got it loud and clear.”

Faso’s language was included in a so-called Manager's Amendment, and requires a six-month time limit for the Coast Guard to submit to Congress a detailed summary of the public comments it received and responses to the concerns. Maloney also had language included in the same amendment, with a six-month time limit, and focused on the Coast Guard’s reporting on the economic, safety and environmental impacts of the anchorages. Again, Maloney on the suspended rulemaking process.

“Well, look, we’re not going to take our eye off it for a minute but, bear in mind, they have suspended the rulemaking that would have led to 10 new sites, 43 new berths, and that is a huge victory for all of us in the Hudson Valley who worked so hard to stop it. So you bet that’s a win,” says Maloney. “But a conversation about safety on the river, of course we’ll engage in that, but that’s a far cry from having a half-baked proposal that was moving down that track that was going to do real damage to the river.”

Faso says he harbored concerns about the proposal.

“What my amendment had done is basically what the Coast Guard’s now said they’re going to do. They’re going to pull back from the process. They’re going to assess the comments that were made and they’re going to offer recommendations to us in the Congress as to what is needed and what is not needed on the river,” says Faso. “And I think the initial proposal was overly broad, and we want to make sure that navigation is safe but that we’re protecting our communities as well at the same time.”

The Coast Guard received an unprecedented number of comments — more than 10,000 – when the comment period closed in December, 94 percent of which were against the proposal.

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