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Pace University Political Science Class Drafts Proposed Environmental Bill,
Lobbies Albany to Protect Hudson River
PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y., April 22, 1999 — New York Governor George E. Pataki today credited Pace University students with assisting in his newest initiative to clean up the Hudson River. During an Earth Day address on the Beacon, N.Y., waterfront, Pataki announced that New York will ask the federal government to designate a section of the Hudson River a “no discharge” zone. Pace students’ research demonstrated that a 153-mile stretch of the river would likely qualify for the Environmental Protection Agency designation. The “no discharge” designation, based on the number of adequate pump out facilities, would prohibit boats from dumping sewage in the Hudson River.
The students also worked with Assemblyman Richard Brodsky resulting in a bill (Assembly 958a) that would require the State Department of Environmental Conservation to maintain the number of pump out facilities required by the EPA. The New York State Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee passed the bill unanimously this week. The student-inspired bill, “Hudson River Marine Sanitation Act,” was amended from a statewide initiative proposed and defeated for at least the past 20 years.
So, for all those cynics who believe that Generation Xers are apathetic to social causes – meet the students in Professor Greg Julian’s and John Cronin’s political science class at Pace University. These “20-somethings” conducted extensive research, amended an environmental bill and lobbied state senators and local assembly members in an effort to prevent boats from dumping sewage into the Hudson River.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for students to learn about public policy in a democracy by practicing citizen advocacy,” Julian said.
“Issues in Public Policy: The Hudson River,” is co-taught with Hudson Riverkeeper John Cronin, an Environmental Studies Lecturer in Pace University’s Dyson College of Arts and Sciences. The class introduced students first hand to the political process: their efforts included face-to-face lobbying of state senators and assembly members in Albany; providing every marina along the Hudson River with a grant application for proposed funding toward pumpout facilities; and constructing a class Website to highlight the students’ activities: http://webpage.pace.edu/pol222
During the semester, the class sponsored a series of guest lectures to learn how to advocate for the environment and actively collaborate to write legislation. The series featured five of New York State’s leading advocates, including John Cahill, commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Chris Meyer, director of New York Public Interest Research Group, Pete Seeger, musician, songwriter, and founder of Clearwater movement, Richard Brodsky, chair of the New York State Assembly Environmental Conservation Commission, Judith Kimerling, renowned author, professor and environmental lawyer, and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an environmental litigator and Pace University law professor.