Environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. spoke at Virginia Tech’s Burruss Hall Auditorium on Monday night. Kennedy has been a longtime critic of Bush’s environmental policies, in lectures and in his acclaimed book on the subject, “Crimes Against Nature: How George W. Bush and His Corporate Pals Are Plundering the Country and Hijacking Our Democracy.”
The Roanoke Times reports, that Kennedy made it clear early on in his speech that “he wasn’t critical of Bush because of his political affiliation,” he was critical of Bush, Kennedy said, “because Bush has implemented policies and circumvented the law in order to enrich his donors at the expense of thousands of lives and America’s environmental future.”
“You can’t talk honestly about the environment today … without being critical of the president,” he said.
The speech capped a day of discussion and events that were part of Tech’s Dean’s Forum on the Environment. The event was designed to stimulate conversation and showcase the university’s latest research and activity on environmental issues. Tech trails many universities in areas such as sustainability and environmentally friendly policies but is in the process of implementing several initiatives that could close the gap.
Kennedy, whose speech was titled “Our Environmental Destiny,” is a member of several national environmental organizations. He’s president of the Waterkeeper Alliance, a grass-roots advocacy group dedicated to preserving water and protecting it from pollution. He’s also senior attorney for the National Resources Defense Council and chief prosecuting attorney for the Hudson Riverkeeper organization.
Kennedy highlighted the “good work and sound perspectives from past Republican and Democratic presidents” in his speech Monday, and “he labeled the Bush administration the worst in history when it comes to the environment.”
To make his point he outlined a litany of what he sees as Bush’s offenses — from rolling back environmental regulations to dropping lawsuits to naming lobbyists for oil, timber and utility companies to head federal organizations designed to curb environmental abuse.
But Kennedy’s attacks weren’t reserved for Bush. He criticized what he called a “negligent and indolent press” for perpetuating the idea that there’s still a debate about global warming despite overwhelming scientific evidence that it is real. He went after scientists — he called them “biostitutes” — hired by big oil and big coal who churned out reports for pay after decades of not publishing anything.
Noting that he “loathed partisanship,” Kennedy said “the worst thing that could happen to environmentalism would be for it to become the province of one political party,” and he “fired a few more zingers at the Republicans.”
He also made reference to the the study done by “the University of Maryland after the 2004 presidential election showing how misinformation affected the way people voted.” A PDF copy of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.’s “The Disinformation Society” on the subject of how the media misinformed voters during the 2004 election is available here. The article was published in the May 2005 Vanity Fair magazine.
“Eighty percent of Republicans are just Democrats who don’t know what’s going on,” he said.
But aside from a few cracks, Monday’s speech had a somber tone and warned of what today’s actions could mean for future generations, not to mention the current one.
Kennedy said, “We’re living in a science-fiction nightmare in this country … because somebody gave money to a politician.” Every big corporate polluter from Big Oil, to Big Energy, to Corporate Farms has filled the BushCo coffers for years.