major environmental concerns and jurisdictions
The intricate matrix of governmental institutions, nongovernmental organizations and multiple and multidisciplinary issues involved greatly complicates environmental management in the United States. TheU.S. Constitution vests considerable authority and responsibility at the state level, and only in cases where what happens in one state affects another or has national implications does the Federal government readily exercise major authority. Of course, since many environmental policy issues clearly transcend state borders, such as air and water pollution, they do appropriately fall under Federal jurisdiction. However, inasmuch as land use is now regarded to be an important determinant of environmental quality at a larger scale, many have advocated stronger land-use planning legislation. Others view this as inconsistent with state sovereignty, New York State's strong tradition of home rule and traditional American values of individual property ownership. Some threatened private interests have strongly opposed any authority seeking to regulate their lands, such as for example, by invoking the "takings clause" of the fifth Amendment in the courts.
In the early days of the Union, scant attention was paid to environmental legislation or regulation. Promoting economic and political well-being were the principal concerns. With time, states started to take an interest in stewardship of resources and began to evince concern for pollution and land-use issues. As it became more obvious to Congress that environmental issues often transit state boundaries, anincreasingfederalrole developed, but even today, the Federal government has shown reluctance to involve itself in issues of land-use planning and management, which many believe lie at the core of environmental stewardship. Thus, until recently, the Federal role innon-point source pollution management and regulation of non-tidal wetlands has very much remained within the purview of an individual state, and the different states, in turn, vest differing levels of authority with state and municipal agencies.
As will be discussed below, one of the earliest environmental concerns in New York State related to land use, and even there, the matter required the State to establish its own authority over local entities by legislation creating the Adirondack Park. The history of home rule is well established in New York, and accordingly, land use is very much relegated to local authority (Kleppel, 2002;Nolon, 1999) leading to a patchwork approach to management of the landscape.
One might conveniently divide the major environmental concerns into the following groupings:
1. Point and non-point source pollution. Nutrients, sewage solids, and toxic wastes from publicly-owned sewerage facilities and industries now come under state and Federal controls. Runoff from the land, atmospheric deposition, both of nutrients and toxic compounds have largely been local and state concerns until the most recent reauthorization of the Clean Water Act.
2. Disposal of solid wastes and dredged mate-rial.Solid wastes from households and industry, sludge from sewage treatment plants, and sediments dredged from harbors and rivers must all be disposed of. A variety of Federal and state laws pertain.
3. Land use. To the extent that land use affects non-point pollution, land use falls under the previous grouping and the pertinent Federal and state legislation. To the extent that land use affects the ecological communities on them and their biological integrity, it has generally been left up to the local planning and zoning boards inNewYork to exercise primary authority.
4. Recovery of polluted areas. The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA, PL 96-510, enacted in 1980J, commonly known as "Superfund," was enacted by Congress in 1980 to eliminate the health and environmental threats posed by hazardous waste sites. This law is highly pertinent to contaminated areas in the Hudson River Valley.
5. Resource use. The planning, implementation, and regulation of projects and activities, including navigation, fisheries, biodiversity, water supply, power generation and a wide variety of commercial and recreational uses. Both state and Federal authority pertain.
hudson river environmental history
Although a complete environmental history of the Hudson River and surrounding areas is well beyond consideration in this paper, we provide here an overview of key issues and events that have had particular bearing on either the management of the river or in a larger sense, on environmental policy in the United States. We divide this history into two major periods, the first being prior to the 1960s when issues for the Hudson and its watershed focused legislative and managerial action primarily at the state level, and the second being from the late 1960s to the present, when the Hudson figured heavily in changing the course of environmental management at the national level. Table 22.1 summarizes environmental concerns and issues, institutional drivers, and economic drivers of management and policy.
early history: before the 1960s
While the most vexing environmental problems we nowface, such as the cleanup of toxic materials, are clearly rooted in post-Industrial Age technological developments, early colonial activities nonetheless began to have profound effects on the landscape and these, in turn, affected the Hudson River itself. In 1609, as he navigated up the river that is now his namesake, Captain Henry Hudson was impressed with the extensive, denseforesthe saw along the entire route, and he noted in his log that it "abounds in trees of every description" (Boyle, 1979). Farming settlements were established on both sides of the river after 1630 (Howe, 2002). Within 100 years, much of the land from the river's eastern bank to the Atlantic Ocean would be substantially cleared (e.g., Foster, Motzkin, and Slater, 1998) to provide fuel for winter heat, lumber for the construction of dwellings, farm buildings, and ships, and open land suitable for cultivation. Within the next 100 years, an expansion westward would extend similar effects through the Mohawk Valley, and by 1825 the completion of the Erie Canal wouldfurther accelerate westward development. Shortly thereafter, deforestation occurred even in remote mountainous areas of the Hudson's watershed (Stanne, Panetta, andForist, 1996).
One of the earliest New World developments of commerce and industry focused squarely on technical improvements in transportation, which has historically been one of the most important uses of the Hudson River proper and the land along its banks. Under the able leadership of Governor DeWitt Clinton, the construction of the Erie Canal (1817-25) was among the most ambitious public works programs ever undertaken and completed. The canal opened the primary trade route to the Great Lakes and Midwest and led to the rapid development of New York City as the nation's center of commerce and finance. Along with the Delaware and Hudson Canal, constructed from 1825-29 to the south, the Erie Canal provided coastal access to the coal fields in Pennsylvania and Ohio; to the fur trade of Canada and Upstate New York; to vast lumber resources for building and fuel; for tannins used to cure leather; to sand, gravel, and stone used in the construction industry; and to the rich agricultural resources in the Midwest. The period from 1825-60 saw substantial regional expansion as the Troy and Albany region contributed to the rapid increase in northeastern manufacturing and transportation (Howe, 2002). In the westward direction, the finest Europeanmanufacturedprod-ucts would now make frontier life more bearable for early settlers. Accordingly, it is not surprising that in the earliest days, the governmental role thatrelated to the environment was aimed squarely
Was this article helpful?