Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has signed legislation to allow the state to establish guidelines for tanker avoidance zones. The legislation also establishes minimum conditions under which petroleum-bearing vessels are authorized to navigate on the Hudson River.
"The Hudson River is one of New York's most vital and cherished waterways, spurring commerce and tourism in every community it runs through," Governor Cuomo said. "With this measure, we are taking concrete steps to preserve the beauty of this natural resource as well as protect the New Yorkers who live along the banks on this great Empire State treasure."
This bill (S.5197B/A.6825A) amends Navigation Law to allow New York State to create guidelines for tanker avoidance zones, which would prevent anchorages for oil tankers on the Hudson River. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation will be required to consult with the Coast Guard, the Department of State, the NYS Board of Commissioners of Pilots and at least one licensed Hudson River Pilot to establish these guidelines. Such conditions for tanker avoidance zones include but are not limited to: navigational hazards; environmental conditions; the existence of designated significant coastal fish and wildlife habitats; proximity to waterfront communities; disproportionate impacts on communities; and federally or state identified environmental remediation sites; and may consider an affected community's waterfront revitalization plan or comprehensive plan and the environmental justice communities' impacts.
This bill would provide flexibility for the state to determine the appropriate conditions and guidelines for petroleum-bearing vessels on the Hudson River and the establishment of the tanker avoidance zones. With this flexibility, the state would be able to evaluate each instance to ensure that it would be feasible and not hinder the necessary travel of petroleum-bearing vessels on the Hudson River and active ports, several of which have active major oil storage facilities.
Senator Sue Serino said, "This is a major victory for our local communities, our local environment and the Hudson River. We asked residents to step up and make their voices heard on this important issue and the community responded in full force, ensuring that the state will have the power to better protect one of our area's greatest natural resources. I thank the Governor for recognizing the need to protect the significant investments our communities have made by signing this important legislation and I am grateful for all of those—especially Scenic Hudson— who took the time to help us tackle this issue head on."
Assemblymember Didi Barrett said, "With this new law, the state is in a much stronger position to keep future anchorages from being sited anywhere along the Hudson River. An increase in these petroleum barges would pose a direct threat to fish and wildlife, local drinking water, the safety of waterfront communities, and economic development in our beautiful Hudson Valley region. I thank the Governor for signing this significant measure to help protect our iconic Hudson River."