Small Towns Fight Big Oil on the Hudson

by Jenny Shalant / NRDC

[Editor’s Note: For more information on this issue and the resistance surrounding it, check out the upcoming Eostar 2017 issue of the Earth First! Journal; hitting the streets soon!]

Last fall, a whale made a go of Manhattan. The humpback, eventually named Gotham, chased schools of herring from New York Bay into the Hudson River, as delighted onlookers snapped photos of its tail flukes framed by the city skyline. For a couple of weeks, the whale rose to social media stardom; it even started tweeting.

Wildlife experts say both the whale and its abundant prey testify to the improving water quality of the Hudson, which is a federally designated American Heritage River as well as one of the largest Superfund sites in the United States. The river has come a long way since General Electric and other companies dumped toxic waste into its channel, but new threats may be on the horizon. The U.S. Coast Guard is considering a proposal to allow the construction of 10 anchorage grounds for massive oil barges (currently there are two). If approved, an influx of tankers up to 600 feet long would be able to dock in riverside communities between the George Washington Bridge and the Port of Albany.

Fossil fuel companies hope to take advantage of a recently lifted ban on crude oil exports by making the river a conduit to ports overseas. Meanwhile, environmental advocates fear the recovering river—a resource for wildlife, recreation, and drinking water—will once again be steeped in industry.

The anchorage proposal submitted last year by the Maritime Association of the Port of NY/NJ, which represents oil and shipping interests, threatens to transform more than 2,400 acres of the waterway. In the south, the 43 new berths would extend down to Yonkers—a city in the midst of revitalizing its blighted industrial waterfront. On the northern end, the barges would dock in Kingston, which fronts one of the river’s only public swimming beaches. All but one of the berths would allow for long-term anchorage, which would essentially convert the Hudson into a parking garage for crude oil.

During the comment period that ended in December, more than 10,000 people voiced their objections. Some opponents, like Mark Chertok, an environmental lawyer who represents the Hudson River Waterfront Alliance, pointed to the industry’s practice of stockpiling oil on barges—as it does in the Gulf of Mexico—until higher market prices make it advantageous to unload its cargo. “This use of the river for arbitrage purposes would be an abuse of federal navigational authority,” wrote Chertok. The project, he said, would enable “an invaluable public resource to be converted into free warehousing for private commercial benefit.”

Sending more crude down the Hudson would also make old problems even worse, because much of the cargo may not be just any oil, but tar sands oil. Once stripped out of Canada’s boreal forest, this volatile fossil fuel is transported by pipeline or train, then refined in a highly carbon-intensive process. Global Partners LP has applied for a permit to add new equipment to its storage facility at the Hudson port of Albany for the processing of tar sands oil. The company’s refinery sits right beside the Ezra Prentice Homes, a low-income housing development.


“It’s a classic example of a polluting facility being sited directly adjacent to a low-income community of color,” says Rob Friedman, a campaigner on NRDC’s environmental justice team. “Public housing is often built on the cheapest land in a community, and here you have people breathing in toxic fumes every single day, next to a facility that has already been shown to be violating the Clean Air Act.”

NRDC is currently suing Global Partners and challenging its permit as part of a clean air case represented by Earthjustice. The lawsuit asks the court to force Global to apply for a new air pollution permit and prohibit the Albany facility from handling Bakken crude oil.

“It’s amazing to have communities up and down the river in a state of resistance saying we’re not going to stand for this,” Friedman says. Beyond worries about how the barges will affect the look and feel of the river, it’s the prospect of an oil spill that has many local citizens taking action.

Communities have ample right to be concerned. When a crude oil barge collided with a towboat on the Mississippi River in February 2014, responders were able to recover only a tiny fraction of the spilled fuel—just 95 of about 30,000 gallons. And tar sands crude is particularly disastrous for river ecosystems, explains NRDC staff attorney Kimberly Ong. “This oil immediately sinks to the bottom, and there is, to date, no known way of effectively cleaning it up.” (Just ask the residents of Kalamazoo, Michigan.)

“The Hudson is extremely turbid, so it’s silty and there are a lot of suspended sediments in the water,” adds Friedman, who once worked on the river conducting water sampling tests for Riverkeeper. “If there were to be a spill of crude oil in the river, it’s likely that a very small percentage would be recovered based on its turbidity and the fact that the Hudson is a tidal estuary,” he says. “It’s changing directions constantly.”

In September, Riverkeeper’s boat captain, John Lipscomb, gave a town hall presentation in Rhinebeck, New York. He discussed the deadly “bomb train” derailment in the Quebec town of Lac-Mégantic in 2013. In addition to killing 47 people, the accident sent 26,000 gallons of crude into the Chaudière River. In the year that followed the spill, government-commissioned biologists found unprecedented levels (up to 47 percent) of deformities in many of the river’s fish species. Lipscomb, who has spent the past 17 years on the Hudson conducting pollution patrols and scientific studies, fears that lessons from the Chaudière are going ignored.

“Here we have endangered species that we’ve prioritized for recovery in the Hudson,” Lipscomb said, referring to species like Atlantic sturgeon and bog turtles. “And we’re running a product that if spilled can’t be collected and has proven to cause problems for wildlife in the river.” These incidents are also a toxic threat to the surrounding communities, he points out—and not just to the people who fish on the river. “The 40 percent of it that flashes off into fumes, if it happens in your community, is mutagenic and carcinogenic.” (While few studies have examined the long-term impacts of oil spills on human health, many Gulf Coast residents were still suffering from respiratory and cardiovascular problems, memory loss, and other degenerative issues five years after BP’s Deepwater Horizon spill.)

In light of New York’s clean energy priorities, plus those 10,000 public comments and the pressure from organizations like NRDC, Riverkeeper, and Earthjustice, Friedman remains hopeful that the new anchorages will be scrapped.

Hudson Valley residents will need to keep this pressure up to protect the waterway in their backyards, but this is not just a local fight. By blocking the expansion of the tar sands industry, they’re going to bat for all of us—from Alberta’s First Nations, whose lands have been poisoned by the open-pit mining of this toxic fuel, to upstate New York  residents breathing fumes from refineries next door, to the countries trying to curb carbon emissions instead of unleash them, and finally, to the odd whale that chases its dinner up a welcoming river.

Benefit Show Tonight for Split Rock Water

Saturday, February 18 at 11:00 PM2:00 AM EST
Bangkok Café New Paltz

119 Main St, New Paltz, New York 12561

We are going to raise money for the water defenders down at Split Rock camp down in Mawhwah New Jersey! They are protesting another being built through native Ramapough Lanaape land. Come out and show your support!
Performing will be: Emma Millen, Hot Stains and Los Huevos
$5 cover charge or a donation of winter clothing or non perishable food.
$3 bud lights all night!

““Standing Rock on Hudson II”

““Standing Rock on Hudson II”

A Gathering of Eco-Tribes

*Unity in Diversity: Standing Together For The Hudson River, For Primal
Unity And  Primal Sovereignty *

*Monday, February 20th, Presidents’ Day, 2017      9 am to 5 pm *

*Boughton Place 150 Kisor Road Highland, NY*

$25 suggested donation for whole day, couples $40 per day, Low group rates

Please join us for an all-day event bringing together environmental
visionaries, indigenous elders, musicians, scholars, activists, and
peacemakers to discuss and unite in creating a plan of action for the
on-going protection of the Hudson River and its people.

Primal sovereignty is a Native American concept/insight that embraces all
sentient beings and which inspired the US Constitution and Bill of Rights.

There will be over a dozen guest speakers from various organizations, and
those attending will be able to speak to them one on one. Author Evan
Pritchard, (Center for Algonquin Culture) will MC and speak about the
meaning of sovereignty for human beings and all life forms.  He will also
talk about the proposal for anchorages in the Hudson. Greg Quinn (Standing
Rock Veteran, Director, Current C of Staatsburg, NY) will give a talk
called “We Are the Water Protectors.” Strong Oak (Mi’kmaq, Vision Bear
Lodge) will give a talk called “I Love Diversity.” Kieran Conroy (Pastoral
Support for Split Rock Camp at Ramapough) will speak about “The Internet as
Council House.”  Phil Emer and Staci Lepari (White Pine Farm) will talk
about the importance of team work. J.K. Canepa (Resist Spectra) will talk
about the dangers of pipelines at Indian Point Power Plant. Karin Wolfe
(Sierra Club) will talk about “Water and Spirituality.” Sue Rosenberg
(Citizens Against Pilgrim Pipeline) will speak about how to stop proposed
pipelines north of Indian Point. Jordan Huggins (Earth First) will give a
talk called “The Bomb Train Stops Here.” Sally Bermanzohn (Neetopk-Keetopk)
will speak about “The Two Row Campaign Moving Forward.” Shannon Flynn will
assist with opening ceremonies. David Eberle (Sloop Club) will talk about
the pleasures of civic responsibility. Creek Iversen, (Seed Song Farm) Lisa
Mitten and others will provide music.

Break out groups, followed by brain storming session followed by individual
statements of intent, each of us inaugurating our own plan for a better New

For more information, contact Evan Pritchard at *
<>*, (845)377-1110. Or JoyAnn Savino @

Overnight accommodations are available.

Calling all Earth First!ers, Land Defenders and Earth Loving Rebels Join us for the 2017 Earth First! Winter Rendezvous – February 10-14th


Mohicanituck or the “River that flows two ways” Watershed
so-called New York – Lenape/mahican Territory
February 10th – 14th

All over the world, battles are raging to defend the earth and its
inhabitants. Despite the insatiable appetite of industrial
civilization and it’s propensity to degrade, destroy and domesticate,
we still see bold resistance and wild resiliency. Here on Turtle
Island: the forces of colonization continue to displace and denigrate
the land and water, under the guise of progress, economic prosperity
and comfort. The ecosystems we are part of are under attack and
self-defense for our communities is the only option.

Hudson Valley Earth First! is thrilled to host this year’s Earth
First! Winter Rendezvous in the Catskill Mountains of the Hudson
River Watershed for a week of workshops, music, hiking , fire, howling  at the moon         and, of course, effective direct action. We have reserved heated cabins and other indoor space to engage in important movement discussions and provide a space to plug into existing campaigns and projects in our bioregion.

Pipelines, power plants, bomb trains and a whole slew of other
development projects are either currently under construction or in the
proposal and permitting phases. Despite a de facto ban on fracking in
NY, oil and gas infrastructure continue to invade our communities.
We are excited to bring an uncompromising Earth First! presence to a
region that has never hosted a Rondy before. We aim to craft this
year’s Winter OC and Rendezvous into both a meaningful opportunity to
connect activists and environmental campaigns from across the country,
and a resounding gesture of solidarity with all those resisting the
spread and effects of industrial society.


We are encouraging folks to pre-register to camp to reserve space in
one of the cabins/’hotel’ rooms, to  better accommodate folk’s needs,
as well as provide us with an estimate number of attendance. If you
are able, please donate prior to camp to help offset our costs for hosting
the event. Warm and comfy cabins, and the amazing kitchen you will be served
out of unfortunately do not come for free. We ask for a donation of least
$5 per person per day, and more if you can swing it! However, no one will be
away for lack of funds. Please donate at the link below….

Donate here:

Send us an RSVP e-mail with answers to the following:
–    When you are coming & how long you plan to stay
–    If you want to stay in a TWAC or MAD cabin
–    Housing needs relating to sobriety, a quiet or less quiet preference
–    Food allergies or dietary preferences
–    Any other needs, questions or concerns you may have


The closest airports are Albany NY, Stewart Airport and any NYC airports
There is a bus from the Albany Airport and from Penn Station NYC to
the town of Big Indian, NY close to where the WR will be held. A bus into
Phoenecia, NY would also work, just a few minutes further. We can
provide any pick-ups from bus stop as needed, just let us know.

In terms of arrival time, the Winter rendezvous begin the afternoon of  Friday the      10th, so make plans accordingly.

Any questions please e-mail us.

Please Consider:

The Winter Rendezvous is an event open to all (except cops and law
enforcement, of course), so please leave oppressive, elitist and
disruptive attitudes at home. Elitist or oppressive behavior will not
be tolerated. Our goal is a week of celebration, learning and sharing
of ideas that is open to all, from rural landowners, to townies, to
environmental activists of all stripes. Remember the saying: talk to
someone you don’t know – let’s help our movement grow! As always,
there will be spaces for alcohol and partying, and there will be
spaces conducive to sobriety and quietude. It is expected that these
spaces and policies will be respected. In short, don’t be a jerk!
There will also be a safe space for child-care, and we could use help
creating and maintaining it. There will be on-site medics with
emergency medical training and herbal medicine knowledge, as well as
spaces to go for health and healing. If you have any particular skills
that would help with any of these things, contact us.

There will be folks working security/welcome throughout the gathering
to keep any unwelcome people out of the gathering and welcome folks
into camp. As is usual, we will be constantly signing up volunteers to
help with camp security, childcare, conflict mediation, and other
tasks to keep the camp functioning.

Contact us for more info, or if you are interested in volunteering,
presenting workshops or trainings, etc:

hudsonvalleyearthfirst (at)

No compromise!

Upcoming HVEF! events!

January 21st – Dance Party for the Earth! 

7pm – 2am

suggested donation of $5.

Lolly’s Airport Inn

274 Union St, Montgomery, New York 12549

Listen to live music, hear about local environmental abominations and dance to DJ Deckaird Cain. We got a couple bands at 8pm and then we’re going full dance party at 10pm. Come thru and party for a good cause.

January 26th – Radical Film Night with HVEF! and Hudson Valley Antifa

Doors at 6pm – starts at 7pm.

Suggested donation of $5

My Place Pizza

322 Main St, Poughkeepsie, New York 12601

Come enjoy a night of short films that rock the system and its earth destroying tentacles. We will feature videos from the frontlines: Indigenous land Defenders, Anti fascist and anti-racist resistance, anarchists on the street and local Resistance to oil and gas infrastructure.

February 2nd – Resist Pilgrim Pipelines Forum – Newburgh



119 Liberty St, Newburgh, New York 12550

Pilgrim Pipeline Holdings, LLC has proposed to construct two parallel pipelines that would run along the NYS Thruway and through private property— from Albany, NY, to a refinery in Linden, NJ, including a lateral line from the thruway through New Windsor & Newburgh to the Global Oil facilities on the river. Each pipeline would be 200,000 barrels (or 8.4 million gallons) of Crude Oil and other refined products, increasing the risk of explosion, leaks into water sources and tearing up land along the route.


Sandra Kissam – Chair of Orange Residents Against Pilgrim Pipeline (Orange RAPP), Sandra has been instrumental on many environmental fronts, including the conservation and stewardship of the 6700 acre Stewart State Forest. Her talk will highlight current ways to push back against this project and protect our region.

Rudy Tacos – Activist with Hudson Valley Earth First! Their work is focused on creating a larger culture of resistance to environmental destruction, capitalism and oppression in all its forms. Rudy will discuss Hudson Valley Earth First!, as well as diversifying the tactics we use to resist industrial projects in our region.

Evan Pritchard – Founder of the Center For Algonquin Language; committed to exchanging a deeper knowledge of the culture, history, language, and wisdom of Algonquin people, has been a consistent voice for the earth. He will share songs, stories, and insight into how to resist local oil and gas, while honoring the native history of the region.

February 3rd – Crust of the Earth Benefit Show Vol 5

Doors at 7pm – Starts at 8pm

My Place Pizza

322 Main St, Poughkeepsie, New York 12601

Our next punk show for the earth will as always benefit eco-defense on the Hudson Valley. Come for great bands, great food, great time!


Ate Bit –

Point Blank NYC –


and more TBA



Clearwater Is Cautiously Optimistic Regarding News of Proposed Indian Point Shutdown

JANUARY 6, 2017
Clearwater Is Cautiously Optimistic Regarding News of Proposed Indian Point Shutdown
BEACON, NY – Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, America’s Environmental Flagship who has long fought for the closure of the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant in Buchanan, NY received news this afternoon that the power plant would be closed in 2021, as the result of an agreement being negotiated by New York State with the plant’s owners, Entergy.  Reactor Unit 2 of the plant is due to close in April 2020, and Unit 3, which would close down the plant for good, is due to close in April 2021.  Unit One, which did not meet earthquake standards, closed in 1974.
Citing dangers to public health and safety and ecological damage to the Hudson River, Clearwater has long advocated for the closure of Indian Point.
“This is definitely a step in the right direction, but it still leaves us in danger for three to four more years. Indian Point has had an abysmal history of emergency shutdown, radioactive leaks, equipment failures, transformer explosions, degraded bolts inside the reactor core, and other problems.  Without a viable evacuation plan, if something should go wrong between now and then,” said Manna Jo Greene, Environmental Action Director for Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, “the 20 million people that live or work within 50 miles of the plant and beyond remain in danger.”
“The intense water withdrawals used to cool the plant will continue to harm Hudson River fish and other aquatic species. This means four more years of massive fish kill, including billions of eggs and larvae through April 2021,” said Dave Conover, Clearwater’s Interim Executive Director.
“The good news is that they have agreed to move old (but still highly radioactive) fuel rods from the severely overcrowded fuel pools, to safer dry-cask storage, to make long-overdue repairs, and to allow more inspections and better oversight” said Greene.
To execute the shutdown, a transition plan must protect workers; retaining those who have institutional memory to ensure safe decommissioning.  Recently a phase out plan was negotiated for Diablo Canyon, the last operating nuclear plant in California, which is scheduled to close in 6 years.  Their transition plan includes replacing the aging nuclear facility with 100% renewable energy, while retaining the most valuable workers, and retraining those who are not as needed after closure for jobs in the renewable energy industry.  Clearwater believes that the New York plan for a “just” transition should include New York’s entire nuclear fleet of six reactors, and be based on realistic but accelerated implementation of on- and off-shore wind, community and large-scale solar, more large and low-impact hydroelectric facilities, with robust storage systems to ensure reliability.
Even without a plan for renewable replacement energy in place, both the NY State Independent System Operators and the NYS Department of State have determined that there is currently sufficient energy on the grid to do without Indian Point due to energy efficiency and reduced energy consumption and the rapid increase in renewable resources.

Clearwater is also calling for a comprehensive plan to ensure safe decommissioning that is funded by Entergy, and doesn’t end up becoming a burden to ratepayers or taxpayers.

With regard to the Article 78 lawsuit recently filed by Clearwater, Goshen Green Farms and others challenging the NYS Public Service Commission’s 12-year mandatory Tier 3 Nuclear Subsidy, Greene said, “The $7.6 billion dollar subsidy was designed mainly to bail out unprofitable nuclear plants in the western part of the state – and remains an unacceptable use of ratepayer dollars, which would be better invested in renewable energy infrastructure, storage and energy efficiency.”
An amended petition is due to be filed next week.
Media Contact: Manna Jo Greene, Environmental Action Director, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater (845) 807-1270.
About Hudson River Sloop Clearwater 
Launched in 1969 by legendary folk singer and activist Pete Seeger, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater has been at the forefront of the environmental movement as champions of the Hudson River. To date, more than half a million people have experienced their first real look at an estuary’s ecosystem aboard the sloop Clearwater.  Clearwater has become the grassroots model for producing positive changes to protect our planet. For more information, visit

Clearwater Communications
Kelley Howard ext. 7107
Erin Macchiaroli ext. 7101

Hudson River Sloop Clearwater
724 Wolcott Avenue
Beacon, NY 12508