Harckham, Levenberg Release Letter to Coast Guard Opposing Unlimited Anchoring on Hudson River

PEEKSKILL, NYNew York State Senator Pete Harckham and Assemblymember Dana Levenberg released a letter that they have sent to the U.S. Coast Guard today, stating their “total opposition” to allowing, as dictated in Marine Safety Information Bulletin (MSIB) 2023-00, a virtually unlimited number of anchoring locations for barges and other large vessels on the Hudson River north of the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge.

Even worse, state the two legislators in their letter, is the Coast Guard’s decision to go ahead with the anchoring plan without any opportunity for public comment or environmental review, which, Harckham and Levenberg say, is “entirely undemocratic and bad public policy.”

A copy of the letter is attached.

“Having just worked with governmental partners and environmental advocates to enact the Save the Hudson Act to stop radioactive wastewater from being dumped into the river—I am aghast the Coast Guard is, again, proposing to use the river as a parking lot for large vessels, some of which will be filled to the brim with home heating oil,” said Harckham. “This ridiculous idea needs to be stopped once and for all, and I will do everything I can to make sure it does not come to pass. The Hudson River’s economic and environmental value to this region—its residents and business owners—cannot be put at risk from such short-sighted and inchoate decision-making.”

“MSIB 2023-001 ignores existing federal law and the best interests of so many communities along the Hudson River,” said Levenberg. “Our communities vociferously opposed these anchorages just a few years ago, which perhaps explains this attempt to sidestep public comment or environmental review. Our local economies, the ecology of the Hudson Valley and our health—particularly the health of those who get their drinking water from the Hudson River—would be severely threatened by the return of dangerous barges to this area. This MSIB must be rescinded.”

The release of MSIB 2023-001 in July 2023 effectively changed the scope of the Port of New York, which before encompassed the waters of the Hudson River from New York Harbor to Albany. The new, redefined geographic scope of the port now only includes the waters from the Statue of Liberty to the Cuomo Bridge. Because of this, mariners may now anchor anywhere anchoring is permitted on the navigable parts of the Hudson River from Tarrytown to Albany.

Harckham and Levenberg note in their letter, “The expansion of anchoring will have negative consequences on the environment, public health and economic development in the surrounding area. Many of the communities we represent with Hudson River waterfronts have made generational investments in improving the Hudson River and remaking the waterfront as an inviting destination for residents and visitors to enjoy for recreation and local businesses.”

MSIB 2023-001 also contradicts existing federal law: the Elijah E. Cummings Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2020 suspended the establishment of new anchoring locations between Yonkers, NY, and Kingston, NY.

In 2018, the U.S. Coast Guard put forth a plan to allow anchoring on the Hudson River from the Port of New York to Albany, but near unanimous and vociferous opposition from lawmakers and environmental advocates effectively killed the idea. Online comments ran 96% against the plan, and even Edward J. Kelly, the former executive director of the Maritime Association of the Port of New York/New Jersey, which initially backed the plan, said anchoring crude oil barges on the Hudson would be “economic suicide.”