Maloney Announces Next Steps on Suspended Coast Guard Anchorage Proposal
On June 28, USCG Suspended the Dangerous Anchorage Proposal, Effectively Killing it
Newburgh, NY – On the waterfront in the City of Newburgh, Representative Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18) and local stakeholders announced the next steps regarding the U.S. Coast Guard anchorage proposal, which was suspended on June 28, 2017. Instead, the Coast Guard announced that it will conduct a “Ports and Waterways Safety Assessment” or PAWSA to determine next steps and inform future rulemakings. The PAWSA is still being planned, but will include working groups of stakeholders appointed by the Coast Guard. In response, Rep. Maloney demanded the Coast Guard establish certain standards for the creation of the upcoming PAWSA.
“This has been a team effort from day one – thousands of people wrote in to tell the Coast Guard this idea stinks – and just about every elected official in this neck of the woods was on the team that helped kill it,” said Rep. Maloney. “We know the old proposal is pretty much dead, but as this new review is planned we have to make sure it's done right - local folks must have as much input as they did the first time around, we've got to insist on using the most up-to-date science, and the process must be transparent. Our river is a national treasure, you can be sure I’ll continue leading the fight to make sure it is preserved and protected for generations.”
Rep. Maloney’s PAWSA Principles:
- Hudson Valley Voices Matter. The PAWSA workgroups must contain a diverse group of stakeholders with at least half of the members of each workgroup representing communities along the Hudson River, impacted businesses, and environmental groups. Previous PAWSAs have resulted in about 60 percent of the workgroup members representing industry and thus giving undue influence to those in favor of anchorages.
- Follow the Facts. Stakeholders participating in workgroups must be allowed to bring in outside credentialed experts to assist the workgroup in its efforts. Previous PAWSAs have restricted input into the process to the actual members of the workgroup, thus limiting information considered by the PAWSA. By enabling workgroup members to bring in outside experts and consultants, at their own expense, the PAWSA process will be more thorough and properly examine the facts.
- The River Gets a Say. Equal weight must be given to each of the workgroups considerations including environmental, economic, and safety impacts of the proposal. Previous PAWSAs have weighted input from workgroup members based on “expertise,” which often tilts the overall outcome towards industry and economic considerations.
- Let the Sunshine In. The PAWSA process and the workgroups activities must be transparent and open to the public, which includes livestreaming the workgroups meetings. PAWSA workgroup meetings are often not conducted in a fashion that is open to the public. Something as simple as webcasting the proceedings could mitigate this concern.
“The Coast Guard’s decision to suspend its proposal to add new anchorage sites on the Hudson River was a big win for our region. The plan would’ve threatened our environment and put our businesses and families at risk,” said Assemblyman James Skoufis. “But our work is not over. Now, we must ensure that the Coast Guard’s Ports and Waterways Safety Assessment is beyond thorough and carefully takes our community’s concerns into account. I thank Congressman Maloney for his leadership on this issue and I look forward to diligently working with him and all stakeholders to make sure our voices are heard and our safety isn’t compromised.”
“Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney has shared four thoughtful principles to help guide the US Coast Guard’s PAWSA process. The Hudson River Valley is unique, and we are fortunate to live and work in a region that celebrates its environment and municipal waterfronts as integral to its economy and our quality of life. We also have a rich tradition of individuals engaging with public decision-making processes and have found strength in our diverse voices, which, when considered, lead to high-quality decisions. These values must be respected and made part of the Coast Guard’s deliberations in the PAWSA process and beyond,” said Andy Bicking, Director of Public Policy, Scenic Hudson.
In 1996, Congress directed the U.S. Coast Guard “to identify minimum user requirements for new Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) systems in consultation with local officials, waterways users and port authorities.” As a result, the USCG created the PAWSA process, which was established to open a dialogue with waterway users and stakeholders. The process requires the participation of professional waterway users with local expertise in navigation, waterway conditions, and port safety. In addition, stakeholders are included in the process to ensure that important environmental, public safety, and economic consequences are given appropriate attention as risk interventions are selected.
Since the beginning, Rep. Maloney has fought to hold the Coast Guard accountable, ensure residents could make their voices heard on this issue, and ultimately stop this dangerous proposed rulemaking. Rep. Maloney has repeatedly called for a comprehensive environmental impact study and additional hearings. In August 2016, Reps. Maloney, Engel and Lowey, along with Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, sent a letter to the Coast Guard requesting a 90-day extension to provide the public time to learn about the proposal and to offer comments. Following this letter, the Coast Guard announced it was extending the public comment period to December 6. In September 2016, Maloney questioned Coast Guard officials and secured a commitment to an open and transparent process, including public hearings.
In December, after asking Hudson Valley residents to contact his office directly to provide comments in regards to the proposal, Rep. Maloney submitted 404 comments from local residents to the U.S. Coast Guard. Last year, Rep. Maloney also introduced the Hudson River Protection Act, which would prohibit the Secretary of Homeland Security, and by extension the United States Coast Guard, from establishing new anchorage sites for vessels carrying hazardous or flammable material within five miles of an existing superfund site, a nuclear power plant, a site on the national register of historic places, or a critical habitat of an endangered species. While there are a wide range of sites in the Hudson Valley on the national register of historic places and critical habitats of endangered species, the superfund requirement alone covers the entire section of the Hudson River that the Coast Guard proposal was looking at for potential anchorages. Rep. Maloney joined Rep. Engel to reintroduce this legislation in March 2016. In May 2017, Rep. Maloney successfully worked to include his “Anchorages Away Act” as part of the Coast Guard authorization bill, which passed in committee.