SCHUMER, GILLIBRAND CALL ON U.S. COAST GUARD TO HOLD PUBLIC HEARINGS FOR PROPOSED ANCHORAGE AREAS FOR LARGE VESSELS AND BARGES ALONG THE HUDSON RIVER – PROPOSAL COULD HAVE FAR-REACHING ECONOMIC, SAFETY & ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS; SENATORS SAY HEARINGS WILL ALLOW RESIDENTS TO FULLY WEIGH IN ON THE AND IMPACT THE PROPOSAL
The U.S. Coast Guard Is Gathering Feedback On a Proposal To Add 10 New Anchorage Areas On The Hudson River For Commercial Vessels & Barges – Potential Sites Could Be Located Next To Westchester, Orange, & Ulster County Ports
Senators Seek Ample Opportunity for Local Residents & Public Officials to Voice Any Environmental, Safety & Regional Economic Concerns – Senators Call On U.S. Coast Guard To Hold Public Hearings & Work With Impacted Communities to Maximize Outreach and Participation
Schumer & Gillibrand To USCG: Host Public Hearing to Allow Hudson River Communities Full Opportunity to Examine and Impact Hudson River Anchorage Proposal
U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand today called on the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) to ensure affected communities will have the opportunity to voice their concerns at public hearings following its recently proposed plan to add 10 new designated anchorage areas along the Hudson River. According to the USCG proposal, these sites – spanning from Yonkers in Westchester County up to Kingston in Ulster County – would allow commercial vessels and barges to anchor along the Hudson River at designated anchorage sites – currently there is only one designated area and vessels are making emergency stops at other locations. Schumer and Gillibrand said that while the USCG has cited the need to create these anchorage areas for safety reasons, many residents and local public officials remain concerned that formalization of areas for vessels and barges to anchor along the river could impact waterfront development projects as well as the environment. While the proposal would take several years to implement, Schumer and Gillibrand have urged the USCG to hold public hearings to allow for the concerned residents to learn about, fully express their comments on, and impact the proposal.
“Given the potential impacts of this anchorage proposal and the concern it has generated in Hudson River communities from Westchester to Ulster, it is essential that the U.S. Coast Guard hold public hearings so local public officials and residents can fully voice their concerns and fully impact this proposal,” said Senator Schumer.
“The development of the Hudson River has been a huge boon for many communities and before any final decisions are made about anchorage areas, it is imperative that the U.S. Coast Guard hear from all local stakeholders. I encourage them to hold public hearings and I also encourage New Yorkers to submit comments to the Coast Guard sharing any concerns so that they are taken into account as the Coast Guard develops its final proposal,” said Senator Gillibrand.
As a result of recent upticks in traffic, the Maritime Association of the Port of NY/NJ Tug and Barge Committee have proposed creating additional anchorages along the Hudson River. These officially marked areas would provide places for vessels, barges, and tug boats to stop for a few hours if needed, should ship captains and crews become fatigued or the weather becomes too unsafe to continue traveling down the river, for example. The USCG published this proposal as a first step toward making a final proposal to the public to increase designated anchorage sites. The impacted communities feel they should be given sufficient opportunity to comment on and discuss the proposal,
or learn more about it and to impact it.
Schumer and Gillibrand said that while the comment period for this first stage of the proposal process runs until September 7, 2016, the deadline for the USCG to call for a public hearing was June 30, 2016. This gave communities only three weeks from its post date of June 9 – and merely 10 days from when it was first reported on June 20 – to call for a public hearing. Some requests for public hearings were made, but the senators said that, due to the proposal’s demographic reach, and the lack of public knowledge surrounding this significant and potentially far-reaching project, both in safety and potential environmental and economic impacts, the USCG should extend the deadline and conduct a public hearing at this phase of the rule making process. Once this stage of the process is over, the USCG will look through all comments as it develops its final proposal for the anchorages. In a meeting with Senator Gillibrand’s staff, the USCG said that that there would be opportunities to hold public hearings in the next stage of the proposal process. Next steps will also include an environmental impact study mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Schumer and Gillibrand said the USCG should work in conjunction with local, state, and federals agencies and experts to ensure any proposed plan is examined in a way that accounts for the impacts it could have on safety, existing economic development projects and the integrity of the Hudson River.
A copy of their letter to the USCG appears below:
Dear Admiral Paul F. Zukunft,
Following the proposal the United States Coast Guard (USCG) recently published in the federal register to establish up to ten new designated anchorage areas along the Hudson River from Yonkers, NY to Kingston, NY, we write to strongly urge the USCG to hold public hearings before any final decisions are made in order to allow community residents, stakeholders, public officials and advocates the opportunity to comment, discuss and impact this significant proposal.
According to the USCG, the intention of this proposal is to ensure safety for all Hudson traffic by formalizing where vessels can anchor by using federally designated areas. Currently only one such anchorage exists in this region. It is our understanding that, after receiving requests from Maritime Association of Port of New York/New Jersey Tug and Barge Committee, the Hudson River Port Pilot’s Association and American Waterways Operators to consider establishing new anchorage areas along the Hudson River, the United States Coast Guard began the process of developing a proposal that would address industry concerns. We commend you for heeding their concerns. However, we believe it is imperative that the USCG schedule public hearing to maximize community input and expand community education throughout the Hudson Valley.
While the comment period for this proposal runs until September 7, 2016, the deadline to call for a public hearing in the federal register was June 30, 2016. This gave communities only three weeks from its post date of June 9, and ten days from when it was first reported on June 20
th to call for a public hearing. However, due to the proposal’s demographic reach, lack of public knowledge and significance, both in safety and potential impacts, we strongly believe this it is in the best interest to extend the deadline and conduct public hearings in order give the concerned public an opportunity to impact the proposal before any final decisions are made.
Again, we applaud the work you have done in order to make safety improvements to the Hudson River and your enduring mission to identify and address possible safety concerns.
Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator
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