Rep. Sean Maloney, D-NY, held a press conference on the waterfront in the City of Newburgh where he announced his next steps to address the Coast Guard’s “Ports and Waterways Safety Assessment” for anchorage points on the Hudson.
The Coast Guard announced on June 28 it is suspending the Hudson River anchorage proposal, which would have put 10 new anchorage points and 43 new berths between Kingston and Yonkers on the Hudson River, until they could do additional assessments. The first assessment is a Ports and Waterways Safety Assessment which is currently being planned by the Coast Guard.
The anchorage points were originally requested by the maritime industry to facilitate the shipment of crude oil along the Hudson.
Thousands of angry Hudson Valley residents called the Coast Guard to oppose the proposal and state legislators quickly pushed through a bill that gave the state more authority over anchorage points.
Maloney, who has actively opposed the proposal since last year, announced his four “PAWSA Principles” which he hopes will add additional accountability and oversight to the assessment process.
“This has been a team effort from day one — thousands of people wrote in to tell the Coast Guard this idea stinks – and just about every elected official in this neck of the woods was on the team that helped kill it,” said Maloney. “We know the old proposal is pretty much dead, but as this new review is planned we have to make sure it’s done right — local folks must have as much input as they did the first time around, we’ve got to insist on using the most up-to-date science, and the process must be transparent. Our river is a national treasure, you can be sure I’ll continue leading the fight to make sure it is preserved and protected for generations.”
One of Maloney’s main goals is that communities and environmentalists be given a voice in the Coast Guard’s assessment process.
The Coast Guard will appoint working groups of stakeholders who have direct input into the assessment process. Previous assessments by the Coast Guard have allowed sixty percent of the groups to be made up of industry representatives. Maloney wants to ensure that at least fifty percent of the representatives represent community or environmental interests.
Maloney is also pushing for the assessment process to be open to the public even if that means simply web streaming the proceedings.
Maloney has been crafting legislation that would help stop the proposal. He introduced the “Anchorages Away Act”, H.R. 2619, in May which would prohibit any new anchorage points in the Hudson River until the Coast Guard gives a report to Congress.
Maloney also introduced the Hudson River and Protection Act, H.R. 1504, in March with Rep. Eliot Engle, D-NY, which would prohibit the Secretary of Homeland Security from establishing new anchorage points for vessels carrying flammable or hazardous materials within five miles of a federal superfund cleanup site. This would mean no anchorage points could be set up in the proposed area of the Hudson River.
At the press conference, Maloney was joined by Assemblyman Frank Skartados, D-Milton; Cornwall-on-Hudson Mayor Brendan Coyne; City of Beacon Mayor Randy Casale; and representatives from environmental advocate groups Scenic Hudson and Riverkeepers. Both environmental advocacy groups voiced support for Maloney’s PAWSA legislation.
“Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney has shared four thoughtful principles to help guide the US Coast Guard’s PAWSA process,” said Andy Bicking, director of Public Policy at Scenic Hudson.
“The Hudson River Valley is unique, and we are fortunate to live and work in a region that celebrates its environment and municipal waterfronts as integral to its economy and our quality of life. We also have a rich tradition of individuals engaging with public decision-making processes and have found strength in our diverse voices, which, when considered, lead to high-quality decisions. These values must be respected and made part of the Coast Guard’s deliberations in the PAWSA process and beyond.”
Both of Maloney’s bills are currently in committee. The Hudson River Protection Act was referred to the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment on May 13. The Anchorages Away Act was referred to the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation on May 25.
Maloney also serves on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee which has jurisdiction over the Coast Guard.