Rebecca Martin Consulting: October and November 2023 debrief

Debrief previous months in 2023


It’s been a very busy advocacy season. Below is a debrief of some key moments for the months of October and November.  Please be in touch if you have any questions, or to raise a problem in need of strategic grassroots organizing or collaborative organizational management.  

Rebecca Martin
rebeccamartinconsulting (at)

Hudson River Drinking Water Intermunicipal Council/Hudson 7
The Hudson 7 has great technical advisors who serve the council and provide deep expertise.  There are seven of them currently and include Randy Alstadt (Treatment Plant Operations (PWTF)), Dan Shapley (General), Emily Svenson (Land Use),  Paul Malmrose (Engineering), Dorothy DiNobile (Laboratory Analysis), Grant Jiang (Drinking Water Source Protection) and Captain John Lipscomb (Anchorages).  

After having advocated since the spring when I was on staff at Riverkeeper, the Consensus Building Institute (CBI), EPA’s consultant, has finally opened up seats on the Hudson River PCB Superfund Site Community Advisory Board (CAG) to include groups located on the lower-Hudson River. Randy Alstadt has been appointed (and Dottie DiNoble will act as an alternate) to serve going forward on the CAG on behalf of the Hudson 7.

The CAG for the Hudson River PCBs Superfund Site is designed to:

  • Promote broad, balanced representation of communities and stakeholders along the entire site, in this case the Hudson River;
  • Encourage more routine and consistent communications and coordination between EPA and the community;
  • Solicit ongoing recommendations about ways to enhance community involvement;
  • Provide an avenue for the community to voice its needs and concerns;
  • Provide for a consistent source of dialogue for EPA to gauge interests and needs.

Several years ago, Emily Svenson was appointed to serve on the Hudson River Estuary Management Advisory Committee (HREMAC) on behalf of the Hudson 7. The committee advises NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) on regulatory, policy and other matters affecting the management, protection and use of the Hudson River estuary, its tributaries and shorelines, including implementation of the Hudson River Estuary Program. At their October meeting, Emily provided an update on the Hudson 7’s position on the Hudson River Anchorages issue. With the support of the Hudson 7,  the coast guard issued a new MSIB temporarily pausing their plan that would have otherwise allowed barges to park anywhere north of the Cuomo Bridge on the Hudson River.

Back in February, 2022, Paul Malmrose introduced a problem that was off of everyone’s radar: the Salt Front Advancement in the Hudson River Due to Climate Change and Action Plan to Prevent Salt from Entering the Drinking Water.  His presentation helped the council and the state to recognize the gap of knowledge of the salt front impacts to the Hudson River and the number of days that it would affect drinking water intakes over the next 50 years. His advocacy led to the NYSDEC announcing $500,000 in funding for a Hudson River Salt Front Study, a first critical step to approach the issue.

Dan Shapley is a visionary, and one of the reasons that the Hudson 7 exists today.  This month, we learned that the Hudson Valley Regional Council (HVRC) will give the Hudson 7 the “Building Bridges Award” at their upcoming December 6 Awards Celebration.  Tickets are free, but seats are limited.  Register today. 

Grant Jiang came to us as a technical advisor for the Drinking Water Source Protection Program (DWSP2) when he worked for the Department of Health.  He and Mike Forgeng’s technical assistance have been critical in supporting the Hudson 7 to develop their own unique DWSP2 plan, leading to actionable steps the municipalities can take to protect their drinking water sources now and into the future.

When news about the Coast Guard considering changes to its anchoring regulations and policies hit earlier in the summer, and with the support of Captain John Lipscomb, the Hudson 7 hosted Lieutenant Commander Singletary, CDR Dan McQuate, Coast Guard Sector New York Preventions Department Head to discuss the Anchorages Rule Change in the Hudson River.

Since then, the Hudson 7 has been very active on Anchorages and with John’s stewardship, have been learning about how to file their own Regulated Navigation Area for drinking water, while also providing support to protect critical habitat.

For more information:

Beacon Island Development Coal Ash
On November 14, the EPA announced the availability of new information and data pertaining to the Agency’s May 18, 2023 proposed rulemaking on the “Disposal of Coal Combustion Residuals (CCR) from Electric Utilities: Legacy CCR Surface Impoundments”.  The community member who alerted me to the federal register said that, “Whoever put this together, must have been looking at Beacon Island.”  EPA is seeking public comment on this additional information, which may affect the Agency’s decisions as it develops a final rule, and the public comment period closes on December 11, 2023. The new information pertains to history, maps, risk assessment, the relationship to water, water table and floodplains.  I’ve been assured that it’s a long shot, but my hope is that there is a real opportunity to not only protect the Hudson River, but if these CCR regs were to change to include sites like Beacon Island, they would provide protection to water bodies across the nation with sites (when identified) that are otherwise currently excluded.

The Port of Coeymans
During the recent November 7 election, the community voted in a new supervisor and two new town board members at a very critical time. It might give them a shot at doing more to protect the community and Hudson River from increasing industrialization of the shoreline. Knocking out George McHugh was no easy feat. A big congrats to the community members who have worked tirelessly. Home rule gave Coeymans the ability to not adhere to the Clean Air Act of Albany County. With new leadership, lets change that.

Zero Waste NY
What started as a monthly solid waste advocate “information share” call with lower and upper-Hudson Solid Waste advocates for nearly four years has evolved to become the Zero Waste NY coalition, now statewide and the very first of its kind. I’ve passed the baton of having led the group to 22 year old Xan Plymale. It’s a great model. All of us older folks have a responsibility to help support young people to lead. This is a great example of doing that.   Go Xan!

Hudson River PCBs
We led a full day of briefings (there were five) for the press, state and federal representatives, environmental justice groups, Indian Nations and the Friends of Clean Hudson (FOCH) / public  events on November 14th. It was a big success.  

Riverkeeper, Scenic Hudson and Hudson River Sloop Clearwater released a technical review that we’ve been working on for months and other helpful materials (in English and Spanish, thanks to Jennifer Rawlison) to all who participated, and it led to the upcoming third (draft) five-year-review (FYR) being pushed back into the new year. This is an important win, as advocates were awaiting the FYR over the holidays, an age-old agency tactic, that would have limited public participation.  Our groups will continue to push for a non-protective determination in the EPA’s third FYR report, because the science tells us that the dredging remedy is not working to protect fish and human health.  

For more information, visit:

Executive Summary (Spanish)
Executive Summary (English)
Independent Review of EPAs Upper Hudson PCB Dredging Remedy
Hudson PCBs Fact Sheet (Spanish)
Hudson PCBs Fact Sheet (English)

Hudson River Anchorages
I always chuckle when folks tell me that a problem is impossible to correct.  When you’ve got good strategic advocates, all you need is legal and science remedies, a little luck and a great deal of public pressure.

Thanks to Drew Gamils, a great young legal advocate and staff attorney at Riverkeeper, who identified all that was illegal about the Coast Guard’s July bulletin as well as Captain John Lipscomb and Sr. Manager of Government Affairs Jeremy Cherson who brought Congressman Pat Ryan and his family out on the river. Following Riverkeeper and Ryan’s brown bag lunch virtual meeting (below), the Coast Guard retracted its July bulletin and resubmitted a new one on November 8.  The problem of anchorages is status quo for now.  We wait to see what the Coast Guard’s next steps to respond.

For more information, visit:

The Threat of Landfill Leachate to Drinking Water in the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers
“The Hudson and Mohawk Rivers Leachate Collaborative is an independent project that I have developed (as project manager) with my partners Jen Epstein, Data Analyst and Monica Mercola (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility/PEER), our Legal Consultant.  Together we will set out to analyze landfill leachate disposal through municipal wastewater treatment plants in the parts of the Hudson River and Mohawk River that are used as drinking water supplies. In November, the Good Work Institute is reviewing our project proposal to hopefully become our fiscal sponsor. At which point, we will be able to secure donors and move forward to do this important work. 

Rebecca Martin Consulting: August and September 2023 debrief

Since becoming a full time consultant in July,  I have been really enjoying my new role with a whole assortment of interesting and challenging case work.  Going forward, I will provide a debrief on these large campaigns (in no particular order) so that you can follow along. 

Stay in touch. I will, too.

Rebecca Martin


Hudson River Drinking Water Intermunicipal Council/Hudson 7
As a founding member and acting coordinator of the Hudson 7 since 2017, the council is near and dear to me.  During my recent transition, I was pleased to be hired to put my strategic management skills to work to help develop their initiatives in 2023-2024.  It’s a large list of items that include helping to establish their new 501c3, supporting the participating municipalities drinking water operators, maintaining the group’s watchdog role on key issues threatening water quality and more.   The Hudson 7’s  current draft goals, work plan and task timeline will all be discussed and adopted at the next Hudson 7 full council meeting on October 19.

For more information:

Beacon Island Development Coal Ash
For nearly a year, I have been working in collaboration with Captain John Lipscomb of Riverkeeper and Kate Hudson of Waterkeeper Alliance. Together, we have been looking into a matter which has the potential to adversely affect Hudson River water quality, aquatic species and their habitat in connection with the Port of Albany’s proposal to site a facility for assembling and shipping wind farm components on Beacon Island in the Hudson River.  

The island is covered with 2-million tons of a mixture of fly ash that was deposited there in the past (up until 1970) by coal-fueled power plants no longer in operation, and located in the 100-year floodplain that contains tidal wetlands, is in a tidal portion of the river, and will experience increasing sea level rise and storm-driven tidal surge as the effects of climate change increase. Our overarching goal presented by this construction proposal was to prevent and/or mitigate any and all potential water quality impacts and potential impacts to aquatic species and their habitat that could result from this project if not properly addressed in its design and implementation. So far, the process has been primarily research focused to learn how other coal ash sites in flood plains have been contained long term.   Although we are in full support of the development of clean energy, including wind power that is necessary to avoid and/or mitigate the rapidly accelerating impacts of climate change, we also believe that all siting, construction, and operations at clean energy projects like the Port of Albany Beacon Island proposal can and must be done in a manner that minimizes negative environmental, and river impacts to the maximum extent possible.

At the same time in November of 2022, we learned about potential changes to the EPA’s Coal Combustion Residuals (CCR) regulations and in 2023, with the changes announced to close the regulatory gap left open by the EPA’s 2015 CCR rule, we have been closely following the process to understand how the changes may impact the Beacon Island site and others like it.

We were pleased when Waterkeeper’s General Counsel and Legal Director Dan Estrin integrated some of our research into his public comments on July 12, 2023:  

“….For example, one of our founding member groups, Hudson Riverkeeper, has been engaged for years working to address coal ash dumps in the Hudson River floodplain, including dumps contiguous with the Hudson River itself. One of these sites, Beacon Island, which is currently proposed as part of an expansion of the Port of Albany, contains approximately 2 million tons of coal ash that was deposited there by the nearby Albany Steam Station, but is not on the station’s property. Groundwater is actively flowing through the site and into the tidal Hudson River, which is already a Superfund site, serves as a drinking water source for many communities, and is essential fish habitat. It seems inconceivable that EPA might promulgate new coal ash regulations designed to fill the large gaps left by the 2015 rulemaking, but not address the elephant in the room: off-site coal ash dumps situated in floodplains of important waterways and drinking water sources such as the Hudson River. We strongly urge the agency to include regulation of these massive off-site toxic pollution sources in your final rule.”

For more information:

The Port of Coeymans
I have had the privilege to continue to collaborate with the Clean Air Coalition of Greater Ravena and Coeymans on a regular basis.  It’s a tremendous group of advocates with a mission to “…address the environmental and public health concerns of waste management, incineration, tire burning, and port expansion in the Town of Coeymans, New York. We are concerned with the impact all will have on the Capital District and the Hudson River, specifically on the Greater Ravena-Coeymans area. The CAC aims to build a stronger community able to create a cleaner and more equitable future for the environment, the river, and the people who live here.”   Recently, we launched a new petition (the second in a series) to try to curb the Port of Coeymans expansion as planned.  Following this effort, several of the advocates were both harassed and falsely accused of trespassing by Carver Companies (based on an unsworn statement by a Carver employee) while identifying plants on a public road. The group pushed back and the charges were dismissed (“Carver Companies Bully Neighbors: Two Women Speak Out”)

For more information:

Mid-Hudson Solid Waste Collective
What started as a monthly solid waste advocate “information share” call with Lower and Upper Hudson Solid Waste advocates for nearly four years has evolved to become the start of a New York State Zero Waste Coalition.  It is proof that staying the course pays off.

The change came over the summer when New York Public Interest Group (NYPIRG)’s Anne Rabe visited our call to request that the group work together for a once in a decade opportunity to provide public comments on New York’s Solid Waste Management Plan.  As facilitator for many years, we decided to grow this initiative and include advocates from New York City to Ithaca to get the job done. With the assistance, skill and generosity of the Manhattan Solid Waste Advisory Boards (MSWAB), we were successful (see the link below).  

Last week, the group took a big step and adopted its new mission, “To transform New York State waste management policy by prioritizing waste prevention, reuse, recycling and composting and to achieve no burning and to stabilize and minimize burying. Consistent with the internationally peer-reviewed Zero Waste Hierarchy, as codified by the Zero Waste International Alliance, we organize and advocate to assure the protection of public health and nature through cost-effective pollution prevention, waste reduction, greenhouse gas reduction, and environmental justice.” It will choose its new name this week and provide public facing information for new members to sign on and participate in this important work.

For more information:

Hudson River PCBs
In pressing government agencies to make meaningful progress to restore the Hudson River and to hold GE accountable for its PCB pollution, our current coalition of partners (Riverkeeper/Scenic Hudson/Clearwater) continue to advocate for a “not protective” finding in EPA’s Third Five Year Review (FYR) of the Hudson River PCBs Superfund Site.  We anticipate the FYR to drop this fall followed by a 90-day public comment period.  In the meantime, we have been working to bring together Lower Hudson groups to engage the EPA on meaningful public engagement this time around…and it’s working. 

For more information:

Indian Point Decommissioning
Since the spring, I have been attending weekly Stop Holtec Coalition calls led by strong advocates from Westchester and Rockland Counties and elsewhere, facilitated by Food and Water Watch’s Santosh Nandabalan (mainly), Emily Skydel and Alex Beauchamp. They have worked tirelessly to get the “Save the Hudson” legislation (sponsored by Assemblymember Dana Levenberg and Senate Environmental Conservation Chairman Pete Harckham) passed through both the NYS Assembly (with bipartisan support) and NYS Senate (unanimously).  The bill went on to be signed into law by Governor Hochul on August 18, 2023

This legislation will help to safeguard the Hudson River (for now) from the threat of radioactive wastewater discharges (Tritium) at Indian Point by Holtec International, the firm responsible for decommissioning the nuclear power plant. 

For more information:

Hudson River Anchorages
On July 25, 2023, the Coast Guard issued an information bulletin (MSIB 2023-001) which suddenly redefined the Port of New York, making the area North of Cuomo Bridge subject to the Coast Guard’s Inland Navigation Rules.  Under these rules, any vessel may anchor anywhere for any duration, provided that they don’t interfere with traffic and have adequate nighttime lighting. 

In June, as a proactive measure, the Hudson 7 hosted an educational forum with the Coast Guard and have since established an Anchorage committee that will continue to meet on a regular basis to discuss the council’s plans for engagement. As part of that effort, the council submitted a letter to the Coast Guard to request the Regulated Navigation Area (RNA) process as they decide whether or not to make a designation request. 

More information coming soon through Riverkeeper’s Anchorage Campaign page.

The Threat of Landfill Leachate to Drinking Water in the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers
“The Hudson and Mohawk Rivers Leachate Collaborative” is an independent project that I have developed (as project manager) with my partners Jen Epstein, Data Analyst and Monica Mercola (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility/PEER), our Legal Consultant.  Together we will set out to analyze landfill leachate disposal through municipal wastewater treatment plants in the parts of the Hudson River and Mohawk River that are used as drinking water supplies.  We are currently meeting with potential fiscal sponsors to fundraise for this important work that will explain the connections between solid waste and drinking water quality, the regulatory loopholes that exist in the management of landfill leachate, wastewater, and drinking water and show how landfill leachate moves from landfills to surface water, via municipal wastewater treatment plants.

More information coming soon.
Established in 2006, is a non-partisan, grassroots, volunteer organization committed to nurturing transparency in local government through public engagement and participation. It’s a group that I have been leading for my entire career in advocacy upstate.  Over the summer I build this timeline to provide a comprehensive public record of our campaign advocacy for nearly 20 years. You can review our entire history or choose from one of the 25 categories to select a campaign category that interests you.  There is more work to be done on it, but it’s a start. 

Recently, and our sister group came together to learn more about FEMA Reports/Maps and flooding in the Lower Esopus Creek Watershed.  We expect to do more advocacy around this in the coming months to raise awareness to help protect our communities from imminent flooding, due in large part to our changing climate.

For more information: