Clearwater to visit Washington, DC, sailing for water quality

By Mid Hudson News

April 20, 2017

KINGSTON – The Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, will soon embark on a new environmental mission. Plans for an upcoming trip down the coast to Washington DC were announced on Wednesday at the shiip's home port in Kingston's Rondout Basin. 

The voyage will commence June 18, during the summertime Clearwater Festival, embarking from Croton Point Park, organizers said.

Clearwater, in Kingston

Numerous supporters spoke in favor of the venture at a briefing held at the Maritime Museum in Kingston on Wednesday. Speakers included the Ulster and Dutchess county executives, mayor of Kingston, New Paltz town supervisor, a state environmental prosecutor, and representatives from various organizations. 

All stressed the importance of protecting US waterways. President Donald Trump has begun rolling back environmental protection regulations, replacing agency heads, while proposing drastic program budget cuts.

Celebrating the announcement were, from left, Kingston Mayor
Steven Noble, Ulster County Executive Michael Hein, Dutchess County
Executive Marcus Molinaro

“We are dismayed by the proposals and rhetoric coming from the administration, slashing budgets to the EPA, and other key agencies that have the responsibility of protecting our natural resources and the public health,” explained Clearwater Interim Executive Director Dave Conover.  “Science is being dismissed, climate change denied, and a culture of exploitation over conservation is holding sway. This trend is disturbing. “As a result, Clearwater has decided to once again sail to Washington, to remind the government of their responsibility.”

The wooden ship Clearwater was constructed in 1969 by the late folk musician Pete Seeger of Beacon, to raise awareness of pollution impacts on America’s waterways. Realizing that federal intervention was necessary, the sloop first sailed to DC in 1970, spearheading passage of the Clean Water Act by lawmakers in 1972.

Kathy Nolan, senior research director of Catskill Mountainkeeper, noted that Seeger’s activism “called forth magic that recognized how deeply interconnected we all are, beginning with a detailed knowledge of reality, an intimacy with water, and its life-giving properties, as well as the threats which we humans bring to it. Pete knew that if we came to know the Hudson River, if we got into a boat that we reconstructed with our own hands, and put our hands and feet into the water, and studied the water, that we would come to love it, and naturally protect it.” 

Ulster County Executive Michael Hein called “shortsighted” those who would cut EPA funding.

“The idea of sloop Clearwater making this trip, being focused, and bringing forth attention across the entire country to environmental activism, there’s something absolutely beautiful, pure and perfect about that,” Hein said.

Marcus Molinaro, his Dutchess County counterpart, agreed. 

“We cannot afford the federal government to back off its commitment to the preservation, protection and improvement of the Hudson River,” Molinareo said. That means we have to continue its cleanup, and demand the highest degree of standards.”  

Chief of the state Attorney General’s Bureau of Environmental Protection, Lemuel Srolovic, listed in detail what he claimed are devastating proposals recommended by the Trump presidency. 

“To cut the budget of the one government agency tasked with protecting our water and earth would be monumentally shortsighted,” Srolovi maintained.  “There is no rational basis for these deep, broad and damaging budget cuts. The EPA represents about 0.2 percent of the federal budget, yet it has a positive effect upon the lives and livelihoods of all Americans. Clean water is not a luxury, it is a necessity, and the EPA can help provide clean water at a shockingly affordable cost.”

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