Tuesday, July 11, 2017

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Local, federal lawmakers not dropping guard on Coast Guard

Maloney: "Hudson Valley voices matter"

NEWBURGH – The U.S. Coast Guard may have suspended its immediate consideration of approving additional anchorages on the Hudson River, but it will begin a Ports and Waterways Safety Assessment of the river shortly.

Surrounded by local officials and environmental group representatives on the Hudson waterfront in Newburgh, Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney (D, NY-18), said that’s good, as far is it goes, but, the Hudson Valley needs full participatory status in any group or ongoing discussions on best use of the river.

“My concern about the initial process was that we had the interest of the barge operators, which is to store product close to market, and the interest of the Coast Guard, which is to minimize their enforcement hassles when it comes to illegal anchoring,” Maloney said. “And yet, we didn’t have as a priority, the facts about safety and the facts about harm to the river and the potential threat to local communities.”

Maloney had some bipartisan support, including Republican Beacon Mayor Randy Casale, who noted one of the proposed anchorage sites would have been adjacent to popular Long Dock Park.

Scenic Hudson’s Director of Public Policy, Andy Bicking, said going forward, the balance must favor local interests.

“If we’re not successful in making sure that the river gets its say and that the river gets its voice, we’re going to end up with a decision that is driven not by the values that Hudson Valley communities hold clear, but by the values that industry is interested in.” Bicking said.

Precisely the point, said Maloney.

“And I’m going to insist that at least half of the members of the working group represent communities along the river; impacted businesses and environmental groups,” Maloney said.

Earlier this year, Maloney introduced the Hudson River Protection Act, which would prohibit establishing new anchorage sites for vessels carrying hazardous or flammable material within five miles of an existing superfund site, nuclear power plant, site on the national register of historic places, or a critical habitat of an endangered species. 

 


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