Capitol Hill Briefing on Protecting America’s Water Amid Growing Threats

Reprises Pete Seeger’s Historic Capitol Hill Clean Water Forum in 1970

WHAT?  Hudson River Sloop Clearwater will hold a June 29 Capitol Hill briefing on federal clean water protections with leading scientists and advocates for Congressional members and staff, open to members of the media and the public. The briefing, entitled “Protecting America’s Water Amid Growing Threats,” is organized by Clearwater, and co-sponsored by the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI), and Clean Water Action.  Speakers will address impacts of proposed EPA funding cuts and recent rollbacks in federal clean water policy on public and environmental health.  They will convey the concerns of individuals, citizens’ groups and municipal governments about these developments, and discuss ways of strengthening federal clean water protections.  The briefing is a timely reprise of Pete Seeger’s 1970 Capitol Hill Clean Water Forum, which was credited with being a turning point in the fight for the 1972 Clean Water Act.

WHO? Members of Congress, leading scientists and clean water advocates will speak, answer questions and be available for interviews, including:

  • Sean Patrick Maloney — U.S. Representative (NY-18)
  • Other members of Congress TBA
  • Mustafa Ali — Founder and Former Director, EPA Environmental Justice Office; Senior Vice President of Climate, Environmental Justice & Community Revitalization, Hip Hop Caucus
  • John Cronin — Original Hudson Riverkeeper and Time Magazine “Hero for the Planet”; Senior Fellow for Environmental Affairs, Pace University’s Academy for Applied Environmental Studies
  • Michael Frisk – Professor, Stony Brook University School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences
  • Betsy Garthwaite – Board Chair, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater; former Clearwater captain
  • Les Jacobowitz, attorney and Partner, Arent Fox LLP
  • Kenneth Kimmell — President, Union of Concerned Scientists; former Commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection [Invited]
  • Jeffrey Levinton, marine ecologist with The River Project, expert on marine community ecology, restoration ecology, and evolutionary biology
  • Aaron Mair — Former President, Sierra Club Board of Directors; former Epidemiological-Spatial Analyst, New York State Department of Health
  • Brenda Lee Richardson — Interim Managing Director, Earth Conservation Corps
  • Tinya Seeger — Daughter of Pete and Toshi Seeger
  • Joseph D. Warren — Acoustic Laboratory for Ecological Studies
  • Brent Bolin — Chesapeake Regional Director and Acting Political Director, Clean Water Action, moderating

WHEN & WHERE?  The briefing will take place Thursday, June 29, 2017, 10:00AM – 12:00PM in Room 200, Capitol Visitor Center (House side).

live webcast will be streamed at 10:00 AM EDT at (wireless connection permitting).

WHY?  Federal clean water protections and water quality are under threat from steep proposed EPA budget cuts and recent decisions rescinding key federal rules (e.g. rules that applied the Clean Water Act to smaller waterways and wetlands or prohibited discharge of coal mining waste into streams).  Meanwhile, aging infrastructure, population growth, and climate change, with its droughts and floods, put an ever-increasing strain on America’s waterways and drinking water. This necessitates increased investment and sharper focus on science-based policy simply to maintain existing water quality — let alone improve it — and to protect water resources from systemic failures like the ones experienced in Flint, MI, Newburgh, NY, and many other places across the country.

This briefing is a timely reprise of historic events in 1970, when Pete Seeger sailed the sloop Clearwater from the Hudson River to Washington, DC, and held a Capitol Hill forum on clean water credited with being a turning point in the fight for the 1972 Clean Water Act (CWA).  Five decades later, the CWA and other federal laws and policies have vastly improved the quality and health of U.S. waterways and drinking water resources.  But that progress is now threatened, so the Clearwater is going back to Washington, DC to deliver a “cargo of concern” for clean water and science-based policy to Congress.  The “cargo” is physical, and includes petitions, municipal resolutions and testimonials representing many thousands of Americans’ concerns.. It will be delivered to members of Congress at the forum.  As Pete Seeger said in 1970, “We’re going to Washington because the problems of the American rivers can’t be solved by people like me who live on them. Only the federal government has the power to enact and enforce the laws that are needed.”

All our waters are connected.  All our waters must be protected.