Urging Gov. Cuomo to Protect our Hudson River

The following remarks are from our press conference with Sen. Sue Serino, Scenic Hudson and Riverkeeper to urge Governor Cuomo to sign A6825a/S5197b. 

Good morning and thank you to everyone who has joined in this concerted effort to fight for critical new protections for our beloved Hudson River, the spine, as well as the soul of the historic Hudson Valley.IMG_2571

The bill we are urging the Governor to sign is another chapter in the long and continuing story of the relationship between humans and the majestic Hudson, often called  “America’s River.”

From the native Americans who inhabited our valley before European arrival and settlement, to those who fought for and founded our young country, to the inventors and industrialists who introduced all kinds of  transportation on and along the river, to the Hudson River School painters, to the 20th and 21st century New Yorkers — who brought bridges and power stations and litigation and pollution — people have long engaged, for better and for worse, with our iconic river.

The past decades have proven especially challenging for the health of the river.  PCB contamination from many years of industrial dumping left fish dangerous to eat, threatened the habitats of critical wildlife and forced communities, activists and our government to stand up and stand together to demand action.  

At great cost and through the committed efforts of environmentalists, legislators, and community leaders and residents, the health of the river has improved and none of us wants to see that massive effort degraded.  Many communities along the Hudson rely on it as the primary drinking water supply and a number have made huge strides in revitalizing their waterfronts, turning the river into a vital community asset. We all benefit from a #HealthyHudson.

By the same token, without appropriate state oversight, any proposal that would open up the river to enormous increases in petroleum vessel traffic or storage in order to transport volatile domestic crude oil poses serious risks to humans and wildlife habitat. New York State must be able to review all federal anchorage proposals with an eye to public health, safety risks and environmental concerns.

I believe that the bill Senator Serino and I were able to move through both houses of the New York State Legislature with nearly unanimous support gives the DEC a new, critical and well-crafted tool to use when making determinations about where they may exercise their existing authority to create “Tanker Avoidance Zones.”

Absent this bill, the state will have missed an opportunity to assert its shared jurisdiction with the federal government and we could not let that happen, especially with so many Hudson Valley communities having made official pronouncements in support of our efforts to pass the bill.

I stand ready to continue to engage in discussions about any future proposals for new petroleum traffic on the Hudson, as well as about the existing anchorage site off Hyde Park.   I believe with the new legislation we’ve passed we have helped put New Yorker’s interests and safety at the forefront of that conversation.  Gov. Cuomo, please sign this bill to protect our Hudson River and the communities and habitats that depend on it.

Thank you all for your efforts and for joining us today.

About Diner Dialogues

Didi Barrett was elected to the New York State Assembly in a special election in March 2012 and re-elected to a full term in November 2012. Her district, the 106th AD, covers some of the most beautiful parts of Columbia and Dutchess Counties. She has deep roots in the Hudson Valley and came to elected office after a career as a community activist, writer and longtime leader of not-for-profit organizations. Didi is passionate about the agricultural, natural, cultural and historic resources of the Hudson Valley and their critical importance as economic engines and job generators. She is also a great fan of the iconic diners that dot the region. As a member of the Assembly she serves on the Committees on Aging; Agriculture; Economic Development, Job Creation, Commerce and Industry; Mental Health; Tourism, Parks, Arts and Sports Development and Veterans Affairs.
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