Two leaders of the Hudson Riverkeeper organization, a New York-based environmental advocacy group, recount their legal and public-relations battles against the polluters of one of America's famed waterways. Cronin, a former Hudson River commercial fisherman, and Kennedy, one of the new generation of that storied family, are, respectively, head and chief prosecuting attorney of the Hudson Riverkeeper group. The Hudson River, which had inspired artists and environmentalists such as Thomas Cole, Theodore Roosevelt, and John Burroughs, had become so polluted by the 1960s that swimming in its waters was forbidden. Cronin and Kennedy trace the grass-roots environmental activism that culminated in the formation of their organization in 1983. Since then, the group has filed close to 100 lawsuits, reportedly induced polluters to pay close to half a billion dollars to help restore the river, achieved a landmark agreement to protect New York City's water supply, and spawned a number of similar groups. The authors depict their enemies as numerous, well funded, and unscrupulous--including corporations such as Exxon and General Electric, as well as the ""most antienvironmental Congress in the nation's history."" Despite their self-righteous rhetoric, the authors outline three important ways to counter right-wing stereotypes about environmental elitism. First, they advocate acting locally. Second, they urge that environmentalism not be seen as anti-growth, but as a way to preserve a decades-old industry (fishing) and prevent long-term community blight by companies who pursue short-term strategies. Third, they see environmentalism as the ultimate struggle ""against special interests who would monopolize, exclude, and liquidate [resources] for cash."" While hardly objective, this manifesto sheds much light on how the modern environmental movement emerged at the local level and how it is striving to deal with the current, more hostile political landscape.
Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1997
Page Count: 352
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1997
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