New Law Permits Tanker Avoidance Zones on the Hudson

The bill signed into law this week provides flexibility for the state so it can evaluate each instance to ensure it would be feasible and not hinder the necessary travel of petroleum-bearing vessels on the Hudson River and on active ports, some of which have active major oil storage facilities.

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has signed into law a measure that allows the state to establish guidelines for tanker avoidance zones on the Hudson River. The legislation also establishes minimum conditions under which petroleum-carrying ships are authorized to navigate on the 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," 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."

The bill, S.5197B/A.6825A, amends Navigation Law to allow the state to create guidelines for tanker avoidance zones, which would prevent anchorages for oil tankers on the Hudson. 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 the guidelines. According to the state, 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. They may consider an affected community's waterfront revitalization plan or comprehensive plan and environmental justice communities' impacts.

The bill provides flexibility for the state so it can evaluate each instance to ensure it would be feasible and not hinder the necessary travel of petroleum-bearing vessels on the Hudson River and on active ports, some of which have active major oil storage facilities.

State Sen. Sue Serino called it "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."

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