“How amazing is it that it took students from Pace University to shame and embarrass and expose the federal government on a situation like this?”  ~ Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino

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Student environmental policy clinician Christina Thomas addresses a December 5 press conference called by State Senator Terrence Murphy to announce the findings of the Pace Environmental Policy Clinic’s investigation of the Coast Guard. To her right, State Senator Terrence Murphy, State Senator David Carlucci, and Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino.

Charging that the the shipping industry is benefitting from the Coast Guard’s circumvention of its own procedures, including two major river studies and extensive consultation with outside experts and the public, the students of Pace’s Environmental Policy Clinic have formally requested that Commandant Admiral Paul F. Zukunft withdraw the Coast Guard’s proposal to establish 43 oil barge anchorages on the Hudson River.

In the December 5th letter, the Clinic also called on the agency to restart the proper public process under the agency’s Waterways Management: Anchorage Management Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures. On June 9, the Coast Guard published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Federal Register proposing the “special anchorages” spread over 10 locations between Yonkers and Kingston.

New York State Senator Terrence Murphy called the Clinic student investigation a “bombshell” at a press conference he organized upon news of their findings.  In addition to Senator Murphy, joining the Clinic’s call for Coast Guard action were Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, State Senator Sue Serino of Dutchess County and State Senator David Carlucci of Rockland County. In his remarks, County Executive Astorino stated,”How amazing is it that it took students from Pace University to shame and embarrass and expose the federal government on a situation like this?”

Pace students and officials call for the Coast Guard to scrap its anchorage proposal for the Hudson anad start over. L to R: Peggy Doyle, Micah Steele,Rowan Lanning, Pavan Naidu,Christina Thomas, Senator Terrence Murphy, Nadya Hall, Senator Sue Serino, Senator Frank Carlucci, Professor John Cronin (hidden), Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, Professor Michelle Land (hidden), Alexandra DeRosa.

Pace students and officials call for the Coast Guard to scrap its anchorage proposal for the Hudson. L to R: Peggy Doyle, Micah Steele,Rowan Lanning, Pavan Naidu,Christina Thomas, Senator Terrence Murphy, Nadya Hall, Senator Sue Serino, Senator Frank Carlucci, Professor John Cronin (hidden), Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, Professor Michelle Land (hidden), Alexandra DeRosa.

“I suspect the Coast Guard knew the proposal would not survive the level of public scrutiny its own procedures require,” said John Cronin, senior fellow at the Dyson College Institute for Sustainability and the Environment at Pace, and one of the faculty leaders of the Clinic. The Coast Guard essentially ran a covert regulatory process in plain sight.”

Pace student clinician Christina Thomas coordinated the 13-student team that participated in the research. “The shipping industry has gained a distinct advantage over the public in the regulatory process,” she said. “The Coast Guard was able to decline repeated invitations to public meetings from government officials because once it published the industry proposal, its own rules conveniently barred it from talking to the public.”

For the full text of the Environmental Policy Clinic letter to Admiral Zukunft, follow this link.

EarthDesk, published regularly during the academic year, is the online journal of the Dyson College Institute for Sustainability and the Environment (DCISE). John Cronin, editor.

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