Clearwater News & Bulletins

Time to Keep the Promise FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Oct. 18, 2002
Contact: Andy Mele, Executive Director, 845-454-7673 x121
Press photos are available at the bottom of this page.

Pete Seeger Named Clean Water Hero

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY - Environmental leader and famed folk musician Pete Seeger was named a “Clean Water Hero” today for promoting passage of and keeping alive the promise of the Clean Water Act, one of the most successful environmental laws in this country. Signed into law 30 years ago today, the Act reflects our government’s promise to protect and restore America’s waterways, thus ensuring clean, safe rivers, lakes and coastal waters for kids and communities.

For more than half a century. Mr. Seeger has championed the environment and social justice. In 1966, when the Hudson River was rank with raw sewage, toxic chemicals, oil pollution and bacteria, too anoxic to support fish life over many miles of its length, he announced plans to “build a boat to save the river.” In 1969, two thousand people attended the launching of the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater.

In 1970, the Clearwater sailed to Washington, D.C. with Pete and fellow musician Don McLean to highlight the plight of the Hudson and the need to protect our waterways. Mr. Seeger lead the Clearwater organization’s constituents in collecting petitions, writing elected officials, and lobbying for the bill’s passage because it offered a long-term solution beyond punitive fines.

Mr. Seeger articulated in words and music his vision of a fully-restored Hudson. He sang songs, spoke to thousands, and galvanized mass national support for the Act, signed into law by President Richard Nixon in 1972. Propelled by his vision, Clearwater members have initiated or joined virtually every significant battle to protect and restore the Hudson River, its estuary, tributaries and wetlands.

“No one person can take credit for something like clean water, but if I had to name one person to be recognized for placing the plight of America’s waterways before the public, Pete Seeger would be the one,” said Clearwater Executive Director Andy Mele. “Pete Seeger is an American icon of environmental stewardship. Largely because of Pete, the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater is recognized around the world as the symbol of river protection and the fight for clean water.”

Since adoption of the Act, Mr. Seeger’s fight to save the Hudson has grown into an innovative template for environmental education and protection. More than 400,000 school children and tens of thousands of adults have sailed aboard the Clearwater locally and dozens of national and international programs have been modeled after the ship-based environmental education programs pioneered by Clearwater.

Now, 83, Mr. Seeger is one of 30 award recipients bestowed the “hero” honor by the Washington, DC-based Clean Water Network, a national alliance of more than 1,100 organizations striving to prevent pollution, protect ecosystems, enforce the law and close its loopholes.

“These clean water heroes exemplify the American values of hard work, public service, and environmental stewardship,” said Merritt Frey, watershed restoration program director for the Clean Water Network. Other heroes bestowed the award include, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. of Riverkeeper, Inc.

The sloop Clearwater, soul of the Hudson River, has been sailing for 33 years. More than 400,000 schoolchildren and another 250,000 adults have participated directly in Clearwater’s ship-board and land based education programs. Members of this “Clearwater Generation” are active and informed—and they vote! The Clean Water Network, a national alliance of over 1,100 organizations, aims to prevent pollution and achieve zero discharge, protect critical ecosystems and enforce the law and close the loopholes. Pete Seeger’s bio can be found online at:

Sloop Clearwater

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Photo by Chris Bowser
  Pete Seeger

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