Interview with Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

So even with all of the subsidies that are going to the coal industry, the coal industry receives almost a trillion dollars in subsidies every year from our country, and yet even with those huge subsidies that allow them to sell their energy at 6 cents a kilowatt or 11 cents a kilowatt, we can still beat them in the marketplace. Even though they have all these subsidies, these distorted advantages, we're still beating them in the marketplace. And so their time, I think, is limited.

ROSS: Do you think President Obama's been hoodwinked or has there been political pressure? What do you think accounts for his continued endorsement of clean coal?

KENNEDY: As I said, I think that it's a sad testament to the impact of campaign contributions in our system and the political clout of this industry that you have very sensible politicians, including great men like Barack Obama, who feel the need to parrot the talking points of this industry that is so destructive to our country, to the communities of Appalachia, to the millions of Americans who'd like to take their kids fishing.

You know, we're living today, truthfully, in a science fiction nightmare. Our country, where my children and the children of most Americans can no longer engage in the seminal primal activity of American youth, which is to go fishing with their father in the local fishing hole and then come home and safely eat the fish. Because somebody gave money to a politician and poisoned more than half of the fish in this country with mercury. And it's the coal industry, and they are privatizing a public trust resource, the fish of our country, which belong to us, they belong to the people. But now the coal industry owns them and the utilities. Because they poison them so much we can't use them anymore.

ROSS: But is it unusual for you? You're speaking out against the leader of your party, the President of the country. That's not going to help your chance of a job in this administration.

KENNEDY: My loyalties are to my country and not to any particular politician. And you know, I've been non-partisan. I've been 25 years as an environmental advocate, I've been non-partisan and bi-partisan. I don't believe in partisanship. If somebody does something wrong, I'm going to say it whether they're Democrat or Republican.

ROSS: And do you think President Obama should reverse his course on this?

KENNEDY: Absolutely. There's no such thing as clean coal, we're destroying the Appalachians. And I guarantee you if we could get President Obama to fly over the Cumberland, to fly over the Appalachian mountains and see the destruction that's occurring there, he would…

ROSS: And what do you think this $3.6 billion will mean to the clean coal push?

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