Robert Lifset to sign and discuss Power on the Hudson

A book-signing celebration and discussion of historian Robert A. Lifset’s Power on the Hudson: Storm King Mountain and the Emergence of the Modern American Environmental Movement, will be open to the public at 2 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 9, at Boscobel in Garrison.

The book focuses on the epic battle over the mountain, starting in 1962, between the newly formed Scenic Hudson Preservation Conference and the Consolidated Edison Co., which sought to build a pumped storage hydroelectric power plant at Storm King on the Hudson River. Con Edison eventually gave up after 17 years, but early on in 1965, a landmark decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals in the case propelled a change in the law.

For the first time, citizens and citizen groups concerned with the environment were given access to the federal courts, a move that empowered others across the country to follow, igniting the national environmental movement and the passage of the National Environmental Policy Act.

All this comes alive in Power on the Hudson, as Lifset takes the reader inside the courtrooms, press conferences, congressional hearings, and meetings as each side reacted to, and fought to shape, the tide of events. Beginning with scenery and ending with ecology, the battle surged back and forth on the local, state and federal levels, waged by a cast of characters that included a gutsy federal biologist at risk of losing his job, a rookie Congressman, a smug governor and a PR operative whose job was “to piss in Con Ed’s soup.”

The afternoon book celebration will begin with a talk by author Lifset, the Donald Keith Jones Associate Professor of Honors and History at the University of Oklahoma. Speakers following, all veterans of the Storm King battle, are journalist, author and Riverkeeper founder Robert H. Boyle; former Congressman and Dean Emeritus of Pace University Law School Richard Ottinger; ex-PR and Washington operative Michael Kitzmiller; and Attorney Albert K. Butzel, who helped craft the legal argument that opened the door to the federal courts. A book signing will follow.

Boscobel is at 1601 Route 9D in Garrison. For more information, call 845-265-3638. Attendance is free.

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