Since 1990, Gershon Cohen has applied his background in the biological sciences (Masters Degree in Molecular Biology) and water policy law (Ph.D. in Environmental Policy) to protect public waters from the discharge of toxic pollutants. Gershon co-founded the Alaska Clean Water Alliance (ACWA) in 1992, which played a lead role in numerous successful clean-water campaigns – reviewing industrial discharge permits and Environmental Impact Statements, and influencing state and federal water pollution laws, regulations, and policies to help control polluted wastestreams from mining, oil drilling, and timber harvesting activities.
Dr. Cohen founded the Campaign to Safeguard America’s Waters (C-SAW), a project of the Earth Island Institute in 1998. C-SAW’s principal mission has been to address the authorization of mixing zones (dilution-pollution zones) within public waters. C-SAW’s efforts to date to reduce and eliminate the authorization of mixing zones have focused on industrial discharges in Idaho, Montana, Vermont, Puerto Rico, California, Washington, and Alaska. C-SAW has also been working with the Earth Justice Legal Defense Fund to develop a litigation strategy to challenge the underlying basis for mixing zone authorizations nationwide under the Clean Water Act.
Gershon has been a leader in the Alaska and national conservation community’s efforts to address pollution from cruise ships since 1999. He was a member of the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation(ADEC)/Coast Guard sponsored Alaska Cruise Ship Initiative, he represented the Alaskan conservation community during the drafting and passage of the nation’s first federal cruise ship legislation (Title XIV of the Coast Guard Reauthorization Act), he helped draft the Alaska Commercial Passenger Vessel Environmental Compliance Act, and assisted ADEC in the development of discharge regulations for cruise ships under the CPVEC after passage. He is currently assisting members of the public and elected officials in Washington, Maine, California and Hawaii on the development of cruise ship pollution prevention legislation.