NY Legislature Considering Bill to Prevent More Petroleum Barges on the Hudson

The Coast Guard's recent proposal to park more oil barges on the Hudson could face legislative obstruction

Senator Serino and Assemblymember Barrett recently introduced a bill to the State Legislature, which would expand environmental considerations when regulating where petroleum-bearing ships are allowed to travel in New York’s state waters. The bill is a response to the U.S. Coast Guard’s recent proposal to establish forty-three new ‘parking’ spaces in ten different areas along the Hudson River, designated for ships carrying petroleum products. Just last week, an oil barge carrying 60,000 barrels (2.5 million gallons) of gasoline ran aground next to Catskill, demonstrating the immense risk these barges pose.

The Hudson River is the icon of the Hudson River Valley. The presence of petroleum barges would not only be an unsightly addition to the historic river, but also pose risks to its ecology and watershed. Moreover, their presence would be inconsistent with the vision local communities share for the future of the Hudson River.

If any of these barges catch fire or leak, the ensuing combustion or spillage of millions of gallons of petroleum products would be an ecological disaster. Research has shown that increasing the number of anchorage sites disrupts the habitats of fish, which in turn disrupts the entire ecological community and fishing industry.

Since the Hudson River is considered state waters, New York has authority to regulate what vessels travel through its navigable zones. Expanding environmental review for permission to travel through state waters could disqualify these proposed sites as anchorages for these barges. Click here to tell your legislators to support protecting the Hudson River’s ecology, tourism, industry, and beauty.