David Sive, an environmental lawyer and key player in the effort to keep a Consolidated Edison plant off of Storm King mountain, died this week at 91.
According to his biography on the website of Sive, Paget and Riesel, the law firm he co-founded, Sive was known as the “father of environmental law.”
Daniel Riesel told the New York Law Journal his former partner was, “an expert in administrative law before he was an environmental lawyer and he was a great litigator. To watch him in court was a thing of beauty. He was very low-key and he was very gracious, but when he had a point, he wouldn’t let go.”
The Storm King fight, which began in the 1960s, led to the formation of Scenic Hudson, one of the region’s major environmental watchdog groups. Ned Sullivan, president of Scenic Hudson, praised Sive’s legal acumen and said he had a passion for the outdoors.
“And as a founder of the environmental movement and the field of environmental law, he laid the groundwork for everything Scenic Hudson and our partners accomplish today,” Sullivan said. “All who treasure the beauty of the Hudson River and the landscapes along it owe a great debt to him.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, Sive was a chairman of the Atlantic Chapter of the Sierra Club and helped found the National Resources Defense Council.
Sive taught, as well, and was an adjunct professor at Pace University Law School. His Pace colleague, Prof. Nick Robinson wrote the following in an email:
“David Sive ranks as one of America’s most extraordinary legal minds. Rather than despair about pollution and despoliation of nature in the 1960s, he set out to do something about it. His early cases saved the Hudson River waterfront at Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow from having a super-highway put in the river bed off-shore. He did this before environmental legislation got adopted. Laws today prohibit a siting a road in such a valuable river bed and estuaries.
“Sive was a brilliant litigator and could imagine legal strategies where no one else envisioned them. He persuaded courts to give remedies to those who sought to safeguard nature. He help invent environmental law.
“As he stepped back from active practice, David Sive taught at Pace Law School for nearly a decade, inspiring generations of students. He was beloved by faculty and students alike.
“He is sorely missed. Pace will memorialize him Wednesday at 5 pm March 26th (Wed., see www.law.pace.edu) at the Garrison Lecture at Pace Law School, a lecture series which Prof. Sive inaugurated and established.”