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Riverkeeper to receive prestigious American Bar Association award

Riverkeeper to receive prestigious ABA award

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(L to R) Gallay, EPA’s Walter Mugdan and Pace University’s Nicholas Robinson.

Update: Riverkeeper President Paul Gallay accepted the Award of Excellence in San Diego, CA on October 19. Pictured is Gallay (left) with fellow honorees Walter Mugdan of the EPA and Nick Robinson who founded the environmental legal studies program at Pace Law and is a member of Riverkeeper’s Advisory Board.

Riverkeeper has been selected to receive a prestigious award from the American Bar Association recognizing the organization’s ongoing mission to protect the environmental, recreational and commercial integrity of the Hudson River and its tributaries, and safeguard the drinking water of 9 million New York residents.

The ABA Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources will present the award to Riverkeeper President Paul Gallay on October 19 at the section’s conference in San Diego, CA. The section’s Award for Excellence honors a person, organization or group that has made significant accomplishments or demonstrated recognized leadership in the areas of sustainable development, energy, environment and resources stewardship in the United States and abroad.

Riverkeeper was founded as the Hudson River Fishermen’s Association in 1966 by a blue-collar coalition of commercial and recreational fishermen in response to the swift decline of the Hudson River. The fishermen, whose catch reeked from the oil spilling daily into the river, banded together and used two nearly forgotten federal laws — The Rivers and Harbors Act of 1888 and The Refuse Act of 1899 — to turn the tide from ruin to recovery on the river that was their livelihood, their home and their haven. The actions of the fishermen signaled a new era, not only on their river, but nationally as the modern environmental movement took hold. At the group’s core was a belief that everyday people had legal standing in protecting our natural environment. These principles still guide Riverkeeper today.

The landmark passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972 made it illegal to discharge pollutants, whether liquids or solids, into waterways without permits. Perhaps more than any other law, the Clean Water Act heralded the end of uncontrolled dumping into the Hudson and its tributaries. The CWA also importantly contained a citizen suit provision, which has enabled groups like Riverkeeper to stop polluters in their tracks.

In recent years, Riverkeeper has built the region’s largest shoreline cleanup and water testing programs; fostered $3 billion in state funding for clean water infrastructure; signed an agreement to close the dangerous and unreliable Indian Point nuclear power plant; helped ban fracking in New York; and prevented the expansion of crude oil storage and transport on and along the Hudson. Riverkeeper’s community-centric, data-driven approach is restoring “America’s First River” after decades of blight and neglect, and its accomplishments have helped establish recognized standards for waterway and watershed protection which serve as models for the growing Waterkeeper movement.

“Riverkeeper is honored to be recognized for five decades of environmental advocacy by the American Bar Association,” said Gallay. “But we’re not resting on our laurels: We continue to fight alongside thousands of citizen scientists and activists to reclaim the Hudson and ensure that more than 9 million New Yorkers have clean, safe drinking water.”

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