Over the past few decades, grassroots groups have worked tirelessly to restore New York’s majestic Hudson River. Then they found out about a plan to add something the Hudson certainly doesn’t need: Massive barges carrying fracked oil.
This dangerous idea was proposed by the Coast Guard, at the behest of the New York-New Jersey Maritime Association. The vision is to add ten new anchorage grounds to accommodate 43 vessels from Yonkers to Kingston, which would encourage tankers to increase oil shipments along the river.
The same groups that have fought hard to clean up the Hudson took action. And in the eleventh hour of the legislative session, Albany lawmakers voted overwhelmingly in favor of bills to help block this anti-environmental plan.
Led by Scenic Hudson, a network of environmental organizations including Riverkeeper, Food & Water Watch, Sierra Club Lower Hudson, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Natural Resources Defense Council, the Audubon Society, and the New York League of Conservation Voters, spoke out against the proposal. We spearheaded a campaign urging the New York State Legislature to pass bills A.6825A and S.5197B to protect the towns along the river. The legislation expands New York State’s jurisdiction over the siting of oil barges on the Hudson River by enabling the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to create ‘Tanker Avoidance Zones’ based on the presence of significant habitats, and the concerns of waterfront communities.
We mobilized because the additional oil barge traffic would reverse decades of work cleaning up the Hudson, squandering millions of dollars spent to revitalize the waterfront. More oil barges on the river increases the risk for hazardous oil spills, threatening New Yorkers’ drinking water, and potentially damaging the habitat of the endangered sturgeon and other species. Barges also produce significant noise and light pollution due to generators and stadium-like lighting on deck, disturbing communities along the waterfront.
Municipalities up and down the Hudson passed resolutions opposing the proposal, and the coalition galvanized community members across the state to submit thousands of petitions and make hundreds of phone calls to the New York State Legislature in support of protecting the Hudson from fracked oil.
It’s a huge win for the health and safety of New Yorkers and our environment. Permitting oil barges on our waterways props up the dangerous and dirty fracking industry, threatening our air and water, and propelling us towards climate chaos.
The legislation now moves to the Governor’s desk.