The Blue Times is part of the global conversation about restoration and protection of water resources for the sustenance of humans and nature. John Cronin is its editor and chief contributor. He has been engaged in water issues and advocacy for 38 years. He serves as senior fellow for environmental affairs at Pace University and Beacon Institute fellow at Clarkson University. He teaches environmental policy and politics, and is an advocate for water reform and technological innovation.
He began his environmental career in 1974 at the urging of folksinger Pete Seeger. His first environmental position was as a pollution investigator for Seeger’s Clearwater organization. He went on to become an aide to Republican Congressman Hamiltion Fish, Jr. and then to Democratic State Assemblyman (now Congressman) Maurice Hinchey, for whom he served on a special investigative task force on Love Canal. He left government service “and its medical and dental plan” to work as a commercial fisherman on the Hudson. At the invitation of the Hudson River Fishermen’s Association, he accepted a position to patrol the Hudson as its Riverkeeper, a job he held for 17 years.
The nation’s only “Riverkeeper” in 1983, he gained international attention for his investigation of the activities of Exxon oil tankers that polluted the Hudson and pirated river water to operate Exxon refineries. He specialized in citizen law enforcement, leading to cases against more than 100 environmental lawbreakers. His groundbreaking work led to the founding of more than 200 Water Keepers in six nations. People Magazine called John “equal parts detective, scientist and public advocate.”
He took up the cause of commercial fishermen beleaguered by pollution with his documentary film, “The Last Rivermen”, which he wrote and co-produced with director Robert Nixon. “Rivermen” was recognized as an outstanding documentary of 1991 by the Motion Picture Academy Foundation. He coauthored The Riverkeepers, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., considered a leading handbook on environmental activism, and has contributed op eds on environmental policy to The New York Times.
Since 1985, John has been active at Pace University, where he and Robert Kennedy founded the Environmental Litigation Clinic at Pace School of Law. He is the founding director and CEO of Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries, where he partnered with Clarkson University and IBM to create a program of technological innovation to advance understanding and protection of waterways.
John’s many honors include Time Magazine Hero of the Planet, an honorary Juris Doctor from Pace Law School, Vanity Fair Hall of Fame, Thomas Berry Environmental Award, William A. Ricker Award from the American Fisheries Society, and most recently, a Jefferson Gold Award, founded as the “Nobel Prize for Public Service” by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
He has been the subject of three books, and of numerous profiles, interviews and documentaries in major media including: the Wall Street Journal, People Magazine, Time Magazine, The New York Times, USA Today, The New Yorker, Today Show, Sunday Morning with Charles Kuralt, Charlie Rose, America’s First River with Bill Moyers, NBC Nightly News, The History Channel.
The Wall Street Journal praised John as “a unique presence on America’s major waterways.” and the Knight-Ridder Newspapers called him a “hero in one of the great success stories of the modern environmental movement.”