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.