The Riverkeepers

John Cronin, Author, Robert F. Kennedy, With, Robert Kennedy, Concept by Scribner Book Company $25 (304p) ISBN 978-0-684-83908-0
By the 1960s, New York's Hudson River, long celebrated for its beauty, was nearly dead from pollution. Today it is rich in aquatic life, thanks to the legal efforts of local environmental groups such as the Hudson Riverkeeper Fund, which employs Cronin as its patrolling riverkeeper and Kennedy as its chief prosecuting attorney. Here, the authors recount their grassroots battles, including to end pollution by Exxon tankers and to gather support to protect New York City's watershed. Although some passages read like legal briefs, the David-and-Goliath struggles (often involving perjury by companies or governmental bodies) and their effect on individual lives are compelling. Noting that Hudson activism ""has become a national model for ecosystem protection,"" the authors give something of an environmental state-of-the-union address. Despite many improvements, they say, protective agencies such as the EPA cater to polluting industries, law enforcement is lax and antigovernment backlash has undermined environmental advances. Cronin and Kennedy recast the need for clean air and water not as an elitist or extremist concern, but as a basic democratic principle. They define environmental injury as theft from the American people, citing, for example, the fact that although fish teem in the Hudson again, the livelihood of the Hudson fisherman is gone, due to an over-dumping of PCBs that has made most species unsafe to eat. Armchair environmentalists may want to get involved for real after reading this staunch and quietly passionate book. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997
Release date: 10/01/1997
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-0-684-84625-5
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