Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Interview
Robert F. Kennedy Jr, Monty Wiradilaga, Brian Kracyla
Manchester, TN – Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival
M: I’m here with Mr. Robert Kennedy Jr. Why are you here at Bonnaroo?
R: I’m here at Bonnaroo because this is a festival that famously has a very strong environmental ethic. The people who come here, generally speaking, have very strong ethics. I’m going to talk to people about coming to Appalachia this summer and getting arrested to stop the coal industry from cutting down the Appalachian mountains, which is the biggest crime in American history. And my kids come here every year, so I wanted to make sure and see them.
M: To appeal to a younger audience, what does that mean to your cause?
R: The people who come here, generally speaking, have a very idealistic vision about this country. They want our nation to live up to its historic destiny of being an exemplary nation. They want America to be everything America promised everybody that it was going to be. And it’s important at this point, particularly with coal, to remind people that coal represents the subversion of our democracy, the corruption of our public officials, and the destruction of our most precious national heritage, the historic landscapes where Danny Boone and Davy Crockett roamed, a place that so much of our culture, our history, our values, are rooted in those landscapes. And we’re cutting them down. We’ve already cut down five hundred of the biggest mountains in West Virginia. We’ve buried twelve hundred miles of streams. We are going to cut down an area, flatten an area, the size of Delaware and they’re not going to be able to tell their kids, to take their kids to the Cumberland. It’s criminal and it’s illegal. We got a court order saying it’s illegal but the industry was able to corrupt officials in the public, the Bush administration, and get them to reverse the court order. The entire business plan for this industry is based upon their capacity to corrupt public officials, subvert our democracy, and get away with illegal behavior. Their product is not cheap, it’s hideously expensive, and it’s not clean, you know, that’s a dirty lie. All the claims about coal by the industry are lies and they are destroying America. And they’re destroying the planet as well.
M: How do you feel the Obama administration will deal with this national crisis?
R: I think all of us had great hopes with the Obama administration. There’s a lot of heartbreak in Appalachia today and a lot of heartbreak in the environmental community because the White House just released its Mountain-top Removal Policy and it is, to say the least, extremely weak. It’s going to change nothing on the ground.
M: Mr. Kennedy, thank you very much.