In these very challenging political times, among the issues that unite our congressional district is thoughtful conservation practices to both grow the economy and protect our environment now, and for future generations. Indeed, conservation has been a high priority for New York political leaders across the political spectrum since at least President Theodore Roosevelt. As I’ve often said, if conservation isn’t conservative, then words have no meaning at all. Clearly, though conservation is also important to liberals, progressives and moderates — it’s an issue area that simply brings us together because part of the American Dream has always included putting our children and future generations in a stronger position that we inherited. Among the many priorities that entails, this includes leaving behind a livable and flourishing earth.
Today we have an important conservation issue facing our communities in much of Upstate New York. Will General Electric (GE) complete the outstanding work they started more than a decade ago so that the Hudson River can be restored to its greatness, allowing for full economic use and enjoyment, now and in the future? I strongly hope that they do.
I very much appreciate all of the work and commitment GE has put in to this project to date. We have made significant progress and all involved are to be lauded for that. Still, we haven’t finished the job. For example, even with these improvements, fish pulled out of the Hudson River are still not edible, nor will they ever be if this project ends prematurely. That would be a mistake. Many in our community list outdoor activities, including hunting and fishing, among their most coveted interests. By fully completing the clean-up we would significantly boost our local economies and provide another source of inexpensive and healthy food for working class people in our region.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and New York State — all trustees of the Hudson — have provided compelling scientific, technical and legal arguments for additional cleanup of the Hudson. Recent polling suggests that the public strongly supports further cleanup and a healthy restored river.
It is my understanding that the EPA is presently carefully considering the matter. This organization can play a critical role in giving the communities along the Hudson and future generations a revitalized Hudson River through thoughtful conservation action. Let’s hope they choose wisely. As citizens, we play an important role by communicating our desires to our elected leaders. If you are so inclined and inspired, please reach out to them and let them know how you feel. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Chris Gibson is the former US Representative for NY’s 19th Congressional District. Before that he spent 29 years in the US military and served four combat tours in Iraq. He is the author of Rally Point: Five Tasks to Unite the Country and Revitalize the American Dream, a book published by Twelve in October 2017.