Water Leader Focus Cover Story, Talking Water with the Kennedys
Water and Wastewater International
Famous for his environmental campaigning, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is clamping down on water polluters across the US. Here he talks to Tom Freyberg on topics such as nutrient removal, controversial gas fracking and why the water sector should take him seriously.
Don’t let Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s soft, dulcet tones fool you. He’s an articulate, vocal, informative environmentalist with water on the mind and a legal sting to his tail. Named one of Time magazine’s “Heroes for the Planet” he can be credited with helping to restore the Hudson River and protecting New York City’s water supply. As such he’s a campaigner the global water sector should take seriously.
“In 27 years I’ve probably brought more lawsuits against wastewater plants than any attorney in the United States,” he states proudly.
Clearly water is an issue close to his heart and one he’s not using to simply win column inches worldwide.?
“Water has been a focus throughout my life; I was raised on the ocean,” he tells WWi magazine. “My uncle (President John F Kennedy) said our family came from the ocean and the seafaring town of Wexford, Ireland. You could say water is in my blood. My father taught us all to kayak as soon as we could hold a paddle and brought us to the great rivers of the world. My life has since been centered on rivers or waterways. I have an affinity for the subject and for most of my career it’s been the focal point.”
His journey from kayaking rivers of the world with his father, Robert F Kennedy, to becoming one of the most vociferous defenders of the water sector has been an interesting one.
Having graduated from Harvard University, he studied at the London School of Economics and received his law degree from the University of Virginia Law School. Later he was awarded a Masters Degree in Environmental Law from Pace University School, where he remains a clinical professor and supervising attorney. Following a stint serving as assistant district attorney in New York City he’s published the New York Times’ bestseller Crimes Against Nature and The Riverkeepers.
Education to one side, if he’s not fi ling law suits against unscrupulous polluting wastewater plants, Kennedy has his hands full representing clean energy and water companies.
He’s not only the president of Waterkeeper Alliance, but also the chief prosecuting attorney for the Hudson Riverkeeper. He’s also a partner in VantagePoint Capital Partners and an advisor to Bright-Source Energy. And let’s not forget he is on the board of directors for Canadian firm, Ostara Nutrient Recovery Technologies. So you could say he’s busy campaigning for the greater good and more often than not, that good is green.