The Coast Guard has announced it will “suspend future rule making decisions” regarding a controversial proposal to put new commercial shipping anchorage points along the Hudson River.
The proposal would have set up 10 new anchorage points and 43 new berths between Kingston and Yonkers for commercial shipping vessels.
The Coast Guard’s decision to suspend consideration of the proposal comes after it was vocally opposed by both state lawmakers and New York residents.
The maritime industry originally requested the anchorage points last summer to facilitate the shipment of crude oil along the Hudson.
In direct response to the Coast Guard’s proposal, both houses in the state Legislature passed a bill that would give the state more authority to issue guidelines regarding anchorage points in the Hudson River.
The bill, passed by a vote of 93-2 in the Assembly and 62-1 in the Senate, comes in the wake of an industry request to the U.S. Coast Guard for 10 new anchorage grounds – 2,400-acres with space for 43 vessels – which is “an unnecessary and drastic proposal intended to support the global oil trade,” according to Riverkeeper.
The legislation would also give the state the power to set conditions and rules for petroleum vessels carrying oil. Governor Cuomo has not yet signed the bill into law.
Environmental advocates also celebrated the Coast Guard’s recent decision, although some remain cautious about the future of the proposal.
“It will be essential for the public to have a seat at the table during the Ports and Waterways Safety Assessment, which the Coast Guard now plans to undertake,” said Riverkeeper’s Vice President of Advocacy John Lipscomb. “This decision by the Coast Guard does not necessarily mean that the anchorages will not one day be authorized. We at Riverkeeper will not relax our vigilance in the least in the coming year and we hope that the public, the environmental community and the elected officials representing the valley and the river will do the same.”
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who has been a vocal opponent of the proposal, praised the Coast Guard’s decision.
“The Hudson River is one of our greatest resources and we have a fundamental responsibility to protect it,” said Schneiderman in a statement. “As I’ve long argued, the anchorage proposal simply didn’t pass the test. I’m glad the Coast Guard now agrees — proving that when our community speaks out, our voices can make a difference.”
Riverkeeper President Paul Gallay praised credited Hudson Valley residents for speaking out against the proposal, and said the level of combined opposition from both elected officials and the public was “unprecedented.”
“With one voice, more than 10,000 Hudson Valley residents and their elected officials set the Coast Guard straight on the many flaws in the industry’s request to site ten new long-term anchorages to facilitate additional crude oil transport down the Hudson,” said Gallay. “Now, the Coast Guard is suspending its review of that plan, admitting ‘there’s a lot we didn’t know about the river.’
“The main lesson learned by the feds is this: Those of us who live on, and love, the Hudson River will not let it come to harm,” Gallay added. “We will never, ever let a misbegotten plan like this one jeopardize a half-century of progress in restoring America’s First River.”