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Lawmakers, Environmentalists Look To Block Oil Barges From Anchoring On The Hudson

YONKERS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- The Coast Guard is getting ready for increased barge traffic as the Hudson River is used to move oil from Albany to the city, but opponents are saying 'no.'

Lawmakers gathered on the Yonkers riverfront Monday, to announce new proposed legislation to ban oil barges from anchoring near sensitive areas on the river.

Environmentalists said it's about time.

"The idea that you would double down on crude oil shipments on the Hudson when the Hudson is coming back as a place to live, as a place to recreate, as a place to build your business is just crazy," riverkeeper Paul Gallay said.

The oil is largely for export, brought to Albany by train, then down the river by barge.

"About a year-and-a-half ago, congress ended a forty-year ban on the export of crude oil and it created more of a need for barges to transport oil out of the country and they picked the Hudson River," Rep. Elliot Engel (D-Westchester) said.

The Coast Guard is proposing 43 new barge anchorages along the river between Yonkers and Kingston. Hastings-On-Hudson residents said it's not just a danger, but an eyesore.

"It completely changes the atmosphere down there. We think that it'll affect the values of that waterfront when it gets re-developed," Dan Lemons said.

The Maritime Association said it's about more than exports and barges are the safest was to move the oil.

"Do you like to have gas that goes in your car? Do you like to have home heating oil? Or would you prefer that all this move by truck through your neighborhood?" Maritime Association spokesman, Edward Kelly said.

Whatever the alternative, some are saying the river is already bearing its fair share of the load.

"We don't want it, we don't need it, there's a better way to go," Rep Sean Patrick Maloney (D-Orange, Putnam, Westchester) said. "There are existing anchorage sites. We are not convinced there is a need for this."

The proposed legislation is headed to Washington as the Coast Guard is planning public hearings for the coming summer.


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