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Hockey star to call for environmental change at SUNY Potsdam

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POTSDAM — The journey from hockey hall-of-famer to environmental activist is a surprisingly natural one, according to former New York Ranger Michael T. Richter.

“As an athlete you understand your performance is a function of your health, and I think everybody understands your health is a function of the environment in which you live,” he said.

Mr. Richter will speak about his environmental efforts at 7 p.m. today at SUNY Potsdam’s Maxcy Hall Ice Arena.

Mr. Richter was a goalie for the Rangers from 1989 to 2003. He helped win a Stanley Cup for his team in 1994 and a silver medal for the United States at the 2002 Winter Olympics. In 2004 the Rangers retired his jersey (#35) and in 2008 he was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.

After retiring from hockey, Mr. Richter attended Yale University, where he received a degree in ethics, politics and economics, with a concentration in environmental policy. After a career as a professional athlete, it was an easy choice to return to school, he said.

“There’s a lot of living left to do in your 30s, and I found going back to school was really helpful,” he said.

Since then, Mr. Richter has been involved in numerous environmental groups, several of which he started himself. Most recently he helped found Healthy Planet Partners, a company that funds and installs clean energy producers for commercial buildings.

Today’s talk will focus on the need to reverse pollution and start cleaning up the planet.

“It’s hard to ignore. It affects everyone. It’s not a political statement; it’s not a socioeconomic thing,” he said.

There is money to be made by being environmentally friendly, Mr. Richter said. Renewable energy can reduce costs for companies. But it will take the combined efforts of regulation from governments, action from nongovernmental organizations and market pressure to enact lasting change, he said.

Mr. Richter’s talk at SUNY Potsdam is part of the college’s Sustainability Speaker Series, which brings in speakers to raise environmental awareness.

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