Hackensack Riverkeeper Staffers Participate
In American Riversí Lobby Day In D.C.
By Hugh M. Carola
American Rivers, a† national river advocacy group, organized River Lobby Day in September and invited river and watershed groups from throughout the country to come to Washington D.C. to meet with their Senators and Congressional Representatives to discuss clean-water initiatives and environmental issues. Hackensack Riverkeeper was represented by Hugh Carola, program director, and Lisa Kelly, development director.
Part of the River Lobby Day program was special interactive training that prepared us for meetings with members of Congress and their staffers on September 13.
In addition to sitting down with Legislative Correspondents from Senators Jon Corzine and Frank Lautenberg, we also met staffers from the following members of Congress: Bill Pascrell (NJ-8), Rush Holt (NJ-12), Scott Garrett (NJ-5) and Steve Rothman (NJ-9). The last two meetings were particularly important since their districts include the portion of the Hackensack River watershed which lies in New Jersey.
Besides our scheduled meetings, we also found time to stop in at the offices of New York Senator Charles Schumer and Reps. Donald Payne (NJ-10), Eliot Engel (NY-17) and Nita Lowey (NY-18). It is within those last two districts that the headwaters of our river lie; so we were happy to have covered our entire watershed.
Among the topics we discussed was the Clean Water Authority Restoration Act of 2005 which would reaffirm the scope and primacy of the 1972 Clean Water Act to preserve our nationís wetlands and waterways. We also discussed the preservation of the Endangered Species Act and a federal water infrastructure bill that would make funding available for municipalities to upgrade aging sewer systems.
We also had the pleasure of face-to-face meetings with Senator Lautenberg, Rep. Garrett, Rep. Payne and a long discussion with Rep. Holt (who is a former trustee of the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association) about the future of environmentalism in America.
We ended River Lobby Day feeling exhilarated and very glad we made the trip. Most importantly, we realized:
∑ Everyone should visit Washington D.C. and in particular, you should visit your Senators and Representatives. No matter who they are, the sign on their office door reads: WELCOME. PLEASE COME INSIDE.
∑ None of us can afford to sit back and ďlet someone else do itĒ because if an issue like clean water is important to you, you must be the one to take it to the halls of Congress.
Our Members of Congress and Senators work for us. Itís their job and the job of their sharp, talented and very young staffers to listen to you and your concerns. You can bet that they hear plenty of anti-environmental messages. Itís our job to make sure they hear the truth.
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