RFK JR. AT FORECASTLE FEST THIS WEEKEND
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is this year’s keynote speaker at the annual Forecastle Festival in Louisville, Kentucky (happening all weekend, with RFK Jr.’s speech scheduled for Sunday at 2:30 p.m.).
In advance of his appearance at Forecastle, Kennedy gave an interview to Velocity Weekly, in which he discusses green solutions to our energy crisis, the 2008 election, why he’s supporting Senator Obama for president, and hints at his own political plans for the future.
Although the interview is quite good, we did have to wonder, “what’s up with that photo?” As for the cutesy caption, we think what the cutline editor meant to say was “Don’t mess with this Kennedy” rather than “don’t miss with this Kennedy.”
Perhaps Bobby should consider sending one of his hawks over there to demand a correction.
Robert Kennedy Jr.
Sound environmental policy is in our economic and security interest, the Forecastle keynoter says
What got you involved in environmental activism?
I’ve been interested in the environment from when I was a little kid. I went hunting and fishing when I was very, very young. I was just involved with animals. I was raising homing pigeons when I was 10 years old, training hawks when I was 9, which I still do today. My father took us to lakes and to see the wildlife in the area, and he was very careful about explaining to us that this is part of our American heritage. The environment was a source of our virtues and our values as a people. I always looked at the environment as a civil rights and human rights issue — the most important one.
You co-host a program on Air America Radio, but what other environmental work do you do?
For 25 years I’ve been working for the Riverkeeper and the National Resources Defense Council. As an attorney, I’ve worked on several hundred public interest cases against polluters on the Hudson River and waterways across North America. Riverkeeper was a group started by a blue-collar coalition of commercial and recreational fishermen to protect their livelihood. And it was very much consistent with the kind of values I’d been raised with, to believe that a clean environment was a democratic right, that the best measure of how a democracy functions is how it distributes the goods of the land: the air, the water, the wildlife, the fish — assets of the community. Does the government allow those to be concentrated in the hands of a few wealthy people, or corporations, or does it maintain it in the hands of all the people?
Are you encouraged by the recent surge of interest in environmental issues?
There’s a vested interest by powerful people in continuing to pollute — it’s not a battle that you “kind of” win. It’s one you have to keep fighting. But today, there’s much more of a realization that good environmental policy is also 100 percent of the time good economic policy. For individual corporations, governments and nations, we need to start focusing on our environment.
So what is the most serious environmental issue we’re facing?
In the United States, the most critical issue is the way we use energy. We use it in a way that weakens our national security and makes us more prone to entanglement with foreign dictators who hate democracy and who are despised by their own people. We’re more likely to be involved in trillion-dollar wars. And it causes global warming. It also destroys our economy. We’re buying oil mainly from nations that don’t like us, that don’t share our values. Are we going to continue down that path or are we going to look at the alternatives? We have really extraordinary alternatives in this country. Every country that has de-carbonized its economy has experienced immediate prosperity. We’re losing jobs abroad — if we invested in a clean economy, we’d be creating an economy that can’t be outsourced. We’d be building solar and wind and geothermal plants in this country and growing our economy and creating jobs that can’t be sent to other countries.
What one action, if every American took it, could improve the environment?
One small thing: Vote for Barack Obama. That’s the one small thing that’s more important than recycling your garbage or buying a Prius or a compact fluorescent light bulb. There are these politicians who are just indentured servants of Big Coal and Big Oil.
You were an early Hillary Clinton supporter, right?
Yes. I’ve always loved Barack Obama, too. I always thought we had two great candidates. I’m proud to be supporting him and working for him now.
Have you ever considered seeking public office yourself?
You know, I’ve got six kids, and my priorities are there. But if something opened up, I would definitely consider it.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. will give the Forecastle Festival keynote address at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at the Belvedere.