Democratic New York Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney joined environmentalists and local lawmakers on the banks of the Hudson River Monday to celebrate his resolution that further protects the lower portion of the waterway.
Congressman Maloney, of the 18th District, was at Plum Point in New Windsor. He says his legislation to permanently ban oil barge anchorages from Yonkers to Kingston is now law.
“Of all the things that I’ve been able to do working in partnership with others in Congress, I think this is perhaps one that makes me most proud,” Maloney says. “This is a lasting achievement that will mean so much, not just today or tomorrow, but for generations to come.”
His provision was included in the Elijah E. Cummings Coast Guard Authorization Act and attached to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2021. Both chambers of Congress overrode a presidential veto on the NDAA, and the bill is now law.
“It’s a good day for the Hudson River,” Maloney says. “It’s a good day for all of us who still believe that government can do good things, and can do it working in a bipartisan fashion.”
Paul Gallay is president of Ossining-based Riverkeeper.
“We didn’t need the anchorages. The anchorages would have taken us farther away from our sustainability goals, as manifested in the New York state Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which is going to get us off fossil fuels,” Gallay says. “It would have made it harder for us to maintain a safe Hudson in the near term and in the long term.”
Republican Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus says the ban will have a positive impact on many of the communities in his county.
“This is 100 percent Sean. The congressman got this done fighting for us in Washington,” says Neuhaus. “We all wrote letters. We all advocated for this, but, Sean, this is really a big feather in your cap because this is a gorgeous resource. When I’m not county executive and I’m not playing dad, I’m on the water, including the Hudson River.”
Newburgh Mayor Torrance Harvey, a Democrat, notes that many of his city’s restaurants and businesses are on or near the river.
“Newburgh has the best view of the Hudson in the entire Hudson Valley, looking at Mount Beacon, we’re very prideful about that,” Harvey says.
Poughkeepsie-based Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan:
“This is a great place to hold this event, literally in the shadow of Storm King, where the modern environmental movement was launched,” Sullivan says. “This site was a Native American settlement. It was the first place where Europeans settled in Orange County during the Revolutionary War. And a small fort was built here, and there are still remnants.”
And a bit more recently…
“During the 20th century, there was a proposal for 530 units of housing that were, that were stopped. Scenic Hudson played a role in that,” Sullivan says. “We were sued for $10 million for our opposition that fortunately was thrown out and it ultimately became a state park.”
Steve Stanne is Clearwater Board president.
“So Congressman Maloney’s ban on those anchorages really prevented the Hudson from becoming a storage depot for all this Bakken crude,” Stanne says.
Maloney, who chairs the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee, first introduced such legislation when the U.S. Coast Guard proposed 10 new anchorage barge sites involving 42 new berths in 2016. The Coast Guard shelved the proposal in 2017 following immense opposition. Again, Maloney.
“And one of the things I’m proud of is that we held out for a permanent ban. There was an effort by some in the Senate to make it 25 years. I said, I tell you what, let’s do it forever,” says Maloney. “And if we have to undo it, you can come back and you can talk to all of us about why you want to screw up the Hudson River, but we’re going to protect it forever. That’s where we’re going to start. And I’m proud that we held the line on that, and that’s why it took a little while, but it got done.”
When the Coast Guard shelved the proposal, there was a Ports and Waterways Safety Assessment, or PAWSA process, from which a safety committee was born to represent input from various stakeholders. That committee still meets today.