Bobby Kennedy, Jr., Environmentalist? – Far Less than Meets the Eye

I am, without reservation, very pleased that so many serious environmentalists, not to mention pretty much the entirety of the Kennedy clan, are calling out Robert Kennedy, Jr., for his inane but nevertheless dangerous behavior.

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. has a checkered record, at best, as an environmental activist.  It should not be forgotten that he ousted his mentor, the pioneering Hudson River environmentalist, Bob Boyle, from leadership of the group that Boyle founded, Riverkeeper.  Boyle, not incidentally, was not only Kennedy’s boss and mentor, but also, to a certain extent, his savior:  Boyle befriended him after Kennedy’s heroin bust.  The break came as a consequence of Kennedy wanting to hire a convicted felon, a wildlife smuggler, to Riverkeeper.  See the Washington Post on this ugly story.

On another front, Kennedy and another Natural Resources Defense Council lawyer, Jacob Scherr, parachuted into Ecuador to make deals with Conoco, a rampant polluter of the Oriente, the Ecuadorian part of Amazonia.  To quote from a New Yorker article from September, 1993, With Spears from All Sides:  “Confidential notes of the second NRDC meeting with Conoco were leaked to every nonprofit in the world with an interest in the Oriente, and the NRDC quickly found itself under wide attack.  In late May, Kennedy and Scherr again flew to Ecuador, where they were greeted, loudly and rudely, with picket lines supported by La Campaña Amazonia por la Vida, a coalition of thirteen Ecuadorian environmental and human rights groups.  ‘Robert Kennedy and Jacob Scherr are what we call environmental imperialists,’ Esperanza Martinez, who was then a coordinator of  Campaña, told me. ‘They came to Ecuador for five days, and then they went home and sat down with an oil company and decided they knew what was best for us.  What on earth gave them that right?’”

Then there’s the saga of Cape Wind, the offshore wind power project that Bobby Kennedy, Jr. did his utmost to kill, enlisting his powerful uncle, Senator Ted Kennedy, to help derail it.  (Teddy: “But don’t you realize, that’s where I sail.”)  This was an exercise, at its baldest, in an advanced case of Nimbyism by particularly moneyed and entitled interests, Bill Koch perhaps foremost among them.  (See this from Greenpeace.)  A NY Times book review of the excellent retrospective on the eventual failure of the project, Cape Wind: Money, Celebrity, Class, Politics, and the Battle for Our Energy Future on Nantucket Sound, had this to say: “Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a noted environmentalist, makes a bizarre appearance on a radio talk show, lumping the wind power proponents in with ‘polluters.’”  Wind power as pollution!  Sounds more like Ronald Reagan or Donald Trump to me.

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