On Monday evening, the Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL) unanimously passed a resolution opposing the U.S. Coast Guard’s plan to create 10 anchorage sites for up to 43 oil vessels in the Hudson River between Yonkers and Ulster County.  Nearly 1000 acres of the Hudson River would be used by the anchorage sites off the shores of Westchester county alone.

The Resolution was proposed by Minority Leader, Legislator John Testa (R) Peekskill, Cortlandt, Yorktown.  Prior to being elected to the BOL, Legislator Testa served for three terms as the Mayor of Peekskill where he championed extensive reclamation projects along Peekskill’s post-industrial waterfront.  “I am glad to see my colleagues stand in unity opposing this anchorage plan.  Westchester is the first County to pass a resolution against the plan and I hope to the other counties along the Hudson River follow our lead”,  Testa said.  “This resolution should send a strong message to the Coast Guard and the federal government that both Republicans and Democrats on the Westchester County Board of Legislators stand in opposition to the Coast Guard’s proposal to park barges laden with oil up and down the Hudson River just off the waterfronts of our communities.  Vocal opposition from the public and government officials at all levels has been effective in getting the period for public comment on the anchorage sites delayed until December.  Now we need to continue our advocacy until the Coast Guard realizes what an ill-conceived plan this is.”

The Legislation was reviewed in the BOL’s Infrastructure Committee, Chaired by Legislator MaryJane Shimsky (D) Ardsley, Dobbs Ferry, Edgemont, Hartsdale, Hastings-on-Hudson, Irvington.  Legislator Shimsky said, “This issue does not follow the stereotypical ‘economy versus environment’ script.  The vastly expanded anchorage sites, and the highly volatile cargo that would be parked in the barges using them, will endanger the billions of dollars of public and private sector investments that have transformed our Hudson River waterfronts from industrial wasteland to vibrant collections of housing, recreational facilities, restaurants, shops and other commercial enterprises.   The economic, environmental, and public safety risks these sites would impose on our Hudson River communities are simply too great to let the proposed new Coast Guard rule stand.”     

The Resolution was also reviewed in the BOL’s Environment and Health Committee, Chaired by Legislator Francis Corcoran, (R) Bedford.  Following the vote, Corcoran said,  “I stand squarely behind this resolution against parking dozens of oil barges up and down the Hudson River for indeterminate lengths of time.  Based on information presented in Committee we learned that these sites will be defined in the National Register as long term.  The Coast Guard claims they will only be used for short term storage but we don’t know what that means or why they must be registered as long term.  While I understand the logistical need to move oil around our nation, I don’t understand why a commercial industry is allowed to take over 1000 acres of a beautiful, natural public resource like the Hudson River to park their barges.”