NYS Legislature Passes Bill To Protect the Hudson from Oil Barges

The Hudson River at Haverstraw Bay

Credit: R. Friedman

In the final hours of the legislative session last night, the New York State Senate passed a bill that could limit the number of oil barges that may park in the Hudson River. Specifically, this bill allows the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to establish "tanker avoidance zones" near sensitive aquatic habitats, waterfront communities and other sensitive areas in and along the Hudson River, protecting the river, the wildlife, and the communities who live nearby. This bipartisan legislation now heads to to the governor's desk for signature.

In the days right before the bill's passage, NRDC members, along with members from a number of organizations, including Scenic Hudson and Riverkeeper called and emailed state assembly members and senators asking them to block the fossil fuel invasion into New York State by passing this bill. The mobilization around this bill serves as a key example of how targeted phone calls to legislators can drive real change in state and local politics.

This bill's passage is critical in light of the the United States Coast Guard's announcement that it is reviewing a proposal to expand the number of barge anchorages in the Hudson River. The proposal could dramatically increase fossil fuel transport on the river, and has been formally opposed by dozens of communities across the state. If this bill is signed into law, the Department of Environmental Conservation will be able to block off large swaths of the river to barge anchoring.

This could not have been done without the leadership of bill sponsors Senator Sue Serino and Assemblymember Didi Barrett, who stood up for Hudson River communities against the dangers of fossil fuels. It is now up to Governor Cuomo to sign this important legislation into law.

Call Governor Cuomo's office now to let him know what you think of the bill: 518-474-8390

About the Authors

Rob Friedman

Policy Advocate, Environmental Justice & New York Programs

Kimberly Ong

Staff Attorney

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