Media Contacts:
Stephen Kent,, 914-589-5988
Dave Conover, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, 845-265-8080 ext 7104

(Re)Making Environmental History
Fighting for Federal Clean Water Protections Now Under Threat, the Sloop Clearwater Will Sail to Washington, DC

[Albany and Kingston, NY – April 19, 2017]  At press events held in Albany and Kingston, New York, flanked by a range of environmental groups and public officials, the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater announced today that it will set sail for Washington DC in June to carry a “cargo of concern” and represent the vital interests of New Yorkers and all Americans in clean water and science-based federal water policy.  Threats to federal clean water protections and programs are growing, and they stand to have a profound impact on New York’s waters.

“We’re sailing the sloop Clearwater to Washington because we want to deliver a strong message from our members and supporters, in the Hudson Valley and across the country, that environmental protection is a core American value,”  said Dave Conover, Interim Executive Director of Clearwater.  “We are facing serious issues regarding pollution, clean water, and climate change that require serious solutions on the federal level.  We need federal agencies that enforce regulations, use sound science to create policy and are actively working to protect our most vulnerable communities.”

Clearwater’s initiative is a reprise of historic events in 1970, when Pete Seeger sailed the newly built Clearwater to Washington and held a forum on clean water issues on Capitol Hill. That became a turning point in the fight for the Clean Water Act, which Congress passed in 1972.

This year, the sloop Clearwater will set sail for Washington directly from the Clearwater Festival in Croton, NY on June 18, arriving in late June, when it will hold another clean water forum on Capitol Hill.  As Pete Seeger said of the 1970 Clearwater sail to DC, “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.”

But in recent months the federal government has retreated from that responsibility, with executive orders allowing coal mining waste to be dumped in streams, and repealing inclusion of tributaries and headwaters under Clean Water Act protections.

Clean water is a key part of EPA’s mission, and it makes a critical contribution to protecting it in New York and nationally.  But the White House budget proposal would cut EPA clean water programs and grants to states by over 30%, damaging New York’s rivers (including the Hudson), lakes, and drinking water.

The new EPA director rejects established science on anthropogenic climate change and seeks to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement.  Climate change is also a water issue, as the increase in droughts and runoff from storms harms water quality, water supplies and water infrastructure.

Threats to America’s water are growing, not shrinking, and call for the federal government not to retreat, but to step up with more robust protection based on sound science.

Water pollution and water itself know no boundaries.  They cut across all communities, interests and political persuasions. From headwaters to the ocean, from Flint, Michigan to Newburgh and Hoosick Falls, New York, all waters are connected and all must be protected.

Many environmental and community leaders and public officials from both parties stood with Clearwater today to announce this initiative, and discuss concerns about federal water protections they want to see addressed in Washington. Among them were:

  • Lemuel Srolovic, chief of the Bureau of Environmental Protection, New York State Attorney General’s office
  • Mike Hein, Ulster County Executive
  • Marc Molinaro, Dutchess County Executive
  • Neil Bettez, the New Paltz Town Supervisor
  • Joseph Martens, former NYSDEC Commissioner, now Senior Fellow, Open Space Institute
  • Daniel Jeanson, Project Coordinator, National Heritage Area, Hudson River Valley Greenway
  • Sachem HawkStorm, Chief of the Schaghticoke First Nations
  • Tom Porter (Sakikwenio’nkwas), founder, director, elder and spiritual leader of the Kanatsiohareke Mohawk Community
  • Hayley Carlock, Director of Environmental Advocacy, Scenic Hudson
  • Dave Conover, Interim Executive Director, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater
  • PaulGallay, president, Riverkeeper
  • Josh Ginsberg, president, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies
  • Gil Hawkins, president, Hudson River Fishermen’s Association
  • Kathy Nolan, MD, MSL, Senior Research Director, Catskill Mountainkeeper
  • JeffSenterman, Executive Director, Catskill Center for Conservation and Development

Working with many supporters and likeminded groups across New York and in Washington, DC, Clearwater’s presence in Washington will provide a much needed channel for broad-based public concern and focused public education on the urgency of protecting America’s most vital natural resource.