Environmentalists are rejoicing as they celebrate a major victory in New York following a recent announcement from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office. On Oct. 24, the Governor’s office announced the signing of new legislation (S.5197B/A.6825A) that would create “tanker avoidance zones” along the Hudson River.
The bill amends Navigation Law, creating guidelines and conditions a petroleum-bearing vessel must meet in order to have authorization to navigate the waters of the Hudson River. It also brings to a close a year-long battle between environmentalists and the U.S. Coast Guard which, in June 2016, proposed to “increase petroleum vessel traffic along a 91-mile stretch between Kingston, Ulster County and Yonkers in Westchester County,” according to the Register-Star.
The initial proposal would have allowed for the anchorage of over 40 vessels in 10 anchorage grounds and would have created a major environmental risk in an already established superfund site.
Many environmental groups have praised the bill and Cuomo’s support for environmental preservation in the Hudson River.
“This legislation gives the Hudson River, and all who care about it, new momentum in the fight against current attempts to expand the industrial use of the river, particularly for crude oil transport,” said Riverkeeper President Paul Gallay in a statement from the group. “The public has spoken loudly, clearly and repeatedly: we don’t need these anchorages and they pose unacceptable risks. And our elected officials are listening and taking action.”
The National Resource Defense Council and Scenic Hudson have also commended Cuomo and those who supported the bills following the passing of the new legislation.
State Senator Sue Serino, who cosponsored the bill with State Assemblymember Didi Barrett, claimed the legislation as a victory “for our local communities, our local environment and the Hudson River,” in Cuomo’s press release.
Though the legislation has drawn support and positive responses from environmentalists and the community, some say that the battle is not yet over. Organizations like Scenic Hudson and Riverkeeper have marked the U.S. Coast Guard’s Hudson River Ports and Waterways Safety Assessment as the next hurdle. Both groups attended workshops, ending today, seeking input on waterway navigation and safety.
“Scenic Hudson will be advocating for strict regulations barring the establishment of new anchorage grounds in locations that could endanger the welfare of riverfront communities and jeopardize the scenic and economic potential of the Hudson River,” the group said on their website. “Scenic Hudson will maintain our commitment to ultimate victory and we will continue partnering with elected officials, citizens, and allies in the collaborative campaign!”