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Pace Environmental Clinic Study: Coast Guard Blocked Public Access To Information In Hudson Anchorage Controversy



Pace environmental clinic Study: Coast Guard blocked public access to information in Hudson Anchorage controversy

Clinic Students Petition Agency to Withdraw Shipping Industry Proposal

PLEASANTVILLE, NY, December 5 – The Environmental Policy Clinic of the Dyson College Department of Environmental Studies and Science at Pace University has charged the Coast Guard with circumventing its own procedures to the benefit of the shipping industry when the agency launched a proposal to create 43 anchorages for oil barges on the Hudson River.

A letter authored by Pace students in the Clinic, sent today to Coast Guard Commandant Paul F. Zukunft, called for the immediate withdrawal of the proposal by the commandant as the only way to initiate the agency’s proper procedures. In June, the Coast Guard published the shipping industry proposal in the Federal Register as an “Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” (ANPR).

According to the Clinic, before publishing the ANPR, the Coast Guard should have completed two major studies addressing river hazards and impacts, conducted public sessions with mariners, environmental groups, and government, and provided all members of the public the opportunity to change the proposal, or even prove it unnecessary.

The Clinic further charges that “the premature publication of the proposal triggered a Coast Guard rule that effectively shielded the agency from having to communicate with the public or participate in numerous government forums.” The Clinic letter cites the Coast Guard’s July 2015 “Waterways Management Anchorage Management Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures” (WWM) as the basis of its allegations.

“This is one of the most egregious violations of public transparency and public trust I have seen in four decades working on Hudson River issues,” 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. “I suspect the Coast Guard knew the proposal would not survive the level of public scrutiny its own procedures require. The Clinic is therefore calling on the Coast Guard to scrap the proposal and start over, despite the imminent December 6 deadline for public comment.”

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.”

The Clinic petition concludes, “It should come as no surprise to the Coast Guard that its decision to forgo its own procedures has caused one of the largest Hudson River controversies in recent history, and at a substantial cost to the Coast Guard in public faith. The only viable remedy is for the Coast Guard to withdraw the proposal and begin the proper public process.”

“The research into the Coast Guard practices was a sad revelation for our student clinicians,” said Cronin. “But at Dyson College we put a premium on the ability of our students to focus on information-based solutions, and learn professional skills by entering the public fray. The work of our students is a prime example of what we call the Dyson Advantage of the Pace Path, which provides students the opportunity to apply classroom theory directly to real-world experience.”

The Pace Environmental Policy Clinic is housed within the Department of Environmental Studies and Science of the Dyson College Institute for Sustainability and the Environment at Pace University. The Clinic trains students in professional policy and advocacy skills through hands-on casework on real-world issues. It is co-taught by Professors John Cronin and Michelle D. Land.  Last May, The New York Times Editorial Board cited the Clinic for its work writing and lobbying the Elephant Protection Act, which passed unanimously in the New York State Senate.

About Dyson College Institute of Sustainability and the Environment: DCISE was established to address major issues in sustainability, resilience, the growing urbanization of the 21st century and the impact of these changes on the global environment, through multidisciplinary programs encompassing research, policy-making, education, and building greater community awareness and consensus on how to manage these issues.

About Dyson College of Arts and Sciences:  Pace University’s liberal arts college, Dyson College offers more than 50 programs, spanning the arts and humanities, natural sciences, social sciences, and pre-professional programs (including pre-medicine, pre-veterinary, and pre-law), as well as numerous courses that fulfill core curriculum requirements.  The College offers access to numerous opportunities for internships, cooperative education and other hands-on learning experiences that complement in-class learning in preparing graduates for career and graduate/professional education choices.

About Pace University: Since 1906, Pace has educated thinking professionals by providing high quality education for the professions on a firm base of liberal learning amid the advantages of the New York metropolitan area. A private university, Pace has campuses in Lower Manhattan and Westchester County, N.Y., enrolling nearly 13,000 students in bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs in its Lubin School of Business, Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, College of Health Professions, School of Education, Elisabeth Haub School of Law, and Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems.


Contacts:  Bill Caldwell, 212-346-1597,

                  John Cronin, 845-661-6961,