Hudson River Anchorages
- The pending USCG-2016-0132Notice of Proposed Rulemaking pertaining to the proposal to establish 10 new, federally designated anchorages in the Hudson River continues to face widespread public opposition.
- At last count, there were over 3300 public comments filed on this docket, and a review of the comments reveals that the overwhelming majority are against the proposal, with a VERY large number of the op[posing comments containing incorrect information/assumptions, or comments pertaining to off-topic rhetoric (ban all fossil fuels, global warming, etc).
- During this public comment period, our Tug & Barge Cttee, Hudson River Pilots Association, the American Waterways Operators, and MAPONY/NJ have continued to reach out to local government officials, community groups, and the media in an attempt to establish the FACTS regarding this proposal, to dispel mis-information, and to explain that SAFETY is the prime motivation behind this anchorage proposal.
- On the evening of October 19, 2016, the MAPONY/NJ Executive Director testified at a public hearing convened by New York State Senators Murphy, Serino, Larkin and Carlucci in Croton-On-Hudson. Testimony was on an invitation-only basis, and of the 18 speakers, I was the ONLY one to speak in favor of the proposal.
- The meeting was heavily attended with about 100-125 persons in attendance, plus fairly extensive TV and Radio media. Attached is a copy of the program. Please excuse my penciled-in start-stop times. I was trying to keep track of each speaker’s time allotment so that I could contest the issue if the chair tried to cut me off. That was NOT necessary, as once I completed my presentation (about 10 min.); the chair proceeded with Q&A from the panel for approx another 20 min.
Attached hereto please also find a copy of my “prepared” written testimony which was provided to each of the 3 Senators. My “spoken” comments were much shorter, and MAPONY/NJ background info, and trade statistical info were just referred to as being available in my written testimony.
My observations regarding the meeting are as follows:
- The conveners had a very pronounced “Con” bias, as did all of the speakers except me. At the sign-in table the staff was actively encouraging all attendees to sign the “Ban-The –Barges” petition.
- The conveners made much ado about there not being any representation from USCG, and that they had had no success in “getting answers” from USCG personnel.
- The conveners made much ado about the USCG not reaching out to all the potentially impacted local politicians and communities PRIOR to issuing the notice in the Federal Register. I found this to be rather disingenuous, and in my comments reviewed the “normal” Federal notice procedures, and how it is normal for most offices to monitor the Federal Register in order to discern matters that may impact them or their constituents.
- This is an election cycle for the Senators, and it was obvious that they were being very assertive that they called the meeting to give their constituents a voice, and for them to represent their interests.
- In addition to the listed speakers there were also several additional politicians in the audience (including NYS Assemblywoman Sandy Galef whose Safe Boating Education legislation we had previously supported, and several local mayors, etc)
During the speakers’ presentations several recurring themes emerged:
- The concern that the new “Long term” anchorages would result in extensive “parking lots” of barges storing crude oil awaiting market opportunities.
- The fear that anchored barges would become terror targets
- The expectation that the proposal was directly linked to the dramatic expected increase in southbound crude oil shipments which had originated in the interior USA.
- The fear that increased crude transport would increase the risk of oil spills
- Negative impact on viewsheds
- Depredation of fish habitats, especially endangered sturgeon.
- The threat that increased vessel traffic would adversely impact tourism and recreational attractions.
- Noise and light pollution.
- Many references to Federal and State legislation/regulations pertaining to preserving the Hudson River scenic beauty, clean ecosystems, etc
- The desire to have a full Environmental Impact Study performed before any action could be taken
In addition to the points raised in my written remarks, my main points were to stress SAFETY, SECURITY, ECONOMIC , and ECOLOGICAL advantages offered by the proposal.
Additionally, during Q&A, I de-bunked several mis-conceptions and disinformation:
- To the claim that there was no one to answer questions, I replied that if one actually read the Docket the proposal letter clearly indicated our name, address, phone number, and e-mail. I pointed out that we have been responsive to anyone who inquires of us, and that we have already met with several concerned parties/groups, and cited that I had personally attended a meeting convened by Ulster County legislators to discuss this proposal more than one month before this meeting.
- I explained that “Long Term” anchorage did NOT mean that vessels planned to stay at anchor for long periods of time, but that USCG used that terminology so as to differentiate from “Temporary” anchorages, such as are established during the Macy’s fireworks displays, America Cup, construction, etc.
- I explained that if you want to find the truth, you should follow the money, and explained that it would be exorbitantly expensive to attempt to store oil indefinitely at river anchorages due to the high cost of manning, tug, crew, and barge expense.
- I noted that although several speakers claimed that anchorages destroyed sturgeon nesting areas, I produced the actual report of the collaborative sturgeon research effort involving University of Delaware scientists, the Hudson River Foundation, and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and noted that nowhere in the report is there any conclusion that anchorages are detrimental to sturgeon habitat. In fact based on my subsequent contact/correspondence with the scientist performing the study, he said, QUOTE At this point we cannot say if there is any impact to the bottom habitat with regard to sturgeon and we have been very careful to stay away from those linkages. END QUOTE
- To the concern that local first responders “might” not be prepared to respond to any possible “on-river” problem, I suggested that as local leaders I would think it would be incumbent upon them to actively determine local response capabilities, to initiate training exercises including Federal and State capacity, and to ensure that proper funding is allocated for any training/equipment issues.
I found that my remarks were generally well received, and I was thanked for providing factual information and explanations. I do NOT think that any significant number of “CON” interests were persuaded, and expect that they will continue to press opposition due to their fears, and local concerns.
I hope that we served to establish several key facts, and to de-bunk several mis-statements.
I expect that we will have to continue outreach, and make ourselves available as necessary to local groups in order to support our proposal.
I will keep all parties advised of progress on this issue.
If you wish to see a video of the actual hearing please visit: Check out this video: Senators Murphy, Serino, Amedore, Larkin And Carlucci Sponsor Hudson River Barge Hearing: https://www.nysenate.gov/newsroom/video/terrence-murphy/senators-murphy-serino-amedore-larkin-and-carlucci-sponsor-hudson >.
The video link is also available on Senator Terrance Murphy’s website.
- If you have NOT yet filed a comment in support of this important Hudson River Anchorage proposal, please do so before the expiration of the extended filing deadline of 6 Dec, 2016.
Although we have just finished our 50 foot primary ship channel, our Port still faces many dredging challenges. Private dredging remains both difficult and expensive, and there are many secondary channels that are long overdue for maintenance dredging by the USACE.
Our Port has many Secondary Channels that are important to local maritime industrial interests. These channels are essential to allow tug/barge, and small vessel traffic to move commodities to/from maritime businesses that are situated on inlets/creeks such as Newtown Creek, Gowanus Creek, Eastchester Creek, Passaic River, Raritan River, and many more. Dredging is necessary to maintain adequate channel depth to support marine traffic.
Unfortunately, most of these secondary channels have not received necessary dredging in many years, and the continued shoaling of these channels is increasingly impeding navigational access, thus crippling small marine-dependent businesses.
There are several causes for the lack of required dredging including USACE budget restrictions and insufficient cargo movements.
NYCEDC has initiated a Secondary Channel program, and NJDOT Marine Resourced will follow with a similar program. NYCEDC hosted an introductory meeting in the Bronx on the evening of October 13, 2016.
MAPONY/NJ will work with both programs in an attempt to restore maritime-related businesses on our many area secondary channels.
In the ongoing fight against the Champlain Hudson Power Exchange (CHPE) cable being placed in extensive portions of the Hudson River Navigation Channel, the USCG has decided NOT to accept the revised RNA presented by the CHPE proponents. This will pose another opportunity to stop this project.
The Fall 2016 semester of SHIPPING 101 is set for the week of November 14-18, 2016, and will be held at the NYSA-ILA Training Facility located at 1210 Corbin Street. If you or your staff have NOT yet signed up for this semester, please contact us ASAP so we can ensure that you are registered in time for the class!
On October 26/27, 2016, the Port of NY/NJ will undergo a USCG Port And Waterways Safety Assessment (PAWSA). The PAWSA will have a dedicated USCG team visit the Port and meet with a broad cross-section of invited participants to perform a rigorous review of conditions in the Port and the established safety mitigations in place. Upon completion of the study, the USCG team will release their findings and recommendations on possible additional mitigating actions which may be activated to improve operational safety on our waterways. The meeting will take place at USCG Sector NY HQ on Staten Island.
On October 18/19, 2016, MAPONY/NJ attended the Annual Meeting of Maritime Information Services of North America (MISNA) in Philadelphia, PA.
Maritime Information Services of North America (MISNA) is a coalition of non-profit maritime information service organizations dedicated to providing information, communications and related services to ensure safe, secure, efficient and environmentally sound maritime operations.
MISNA membership includes maritime exchanges and associations from throughout the United States, Canada and Europe.
As a MISNA member, MAPONY/NJ works with other MISNA members to collect and sell maritime vessel movement data, and to gather best-practice models from other Marine Exchanges.
MAPONY/NJ has held the Presidency of MISNA during 2016, and will turn the Presidency over to the San Francisco Marine Exchange at the close of the year.
On October 6, 2016 MAPONY/NJ attended the Board of Directors meeting of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Association of Coastal Ocean Observing Systems (MARACOOS). MARACOOS members include academics, marine engineering concerns, commercial fishermen, and diverse maritime interests who are concerned with coastal ocean observations, weather data, marine modeling, and water conditions.
MAPONY/NJ participation ensures that adequate effort is expended to serve the needs of the marine industrial community in the New York Bight Coastal Area. All MAPONY/NJ expenses to attend these meetings are paid by MARACOOS through NOAA funding via the USA Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS). The most recent certification of MARACOOS observing data will prove to be a boon to marine data that is made available to mariners.