Coal companies would not exist if not for the "corruption" of politicians, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. told TreeHugger in an interview at Bonnaroo, singling out "family friends of ours forever," like West Virginia Democrats Jay Rockefeller and Robert Byrd.
"They're allowing and endorsing criminal behavior and destroying their state," he said.
The attorney-activist, who is president of the Waterkeeper Alliance, also said that President Obama's recent refusal to ban mountaintop mining is a "huge disappointment."
See the video after the jump.
In the interest of big business, Democrats from coal states have sided with Republicans in doing everything possible to weaken the Waxman-Markey "American Clean Energy and Security Act" of 2009. Dave Roberts only sees a faint silver lining on the Waxman-Markey cloud, mostly because the bill would encourage old-school coal-bound utilities to get renewables, even if it doesn't push the United States to an energy portfolio it wouldn't already have.
Kennedy -- who joined his uncle, Sen. Ted Kennedy, in trying to block the Cape Wind project on Cape Cod -- also made his pitch for renewable energy, and explained how his father, the late senator and presidential candidate, alerted him to the damage the coal industry was doing not just to West Virginia's environment, but its economy.
"He said, 'They're not just destroying the environment, they're destroying the economy." Kennedy noted, "West Virginia is the poorest state in our country ... but it's the richest state in our country in terms of natural resources potential."
Kennedy also spoke to Jacob from TreeHugger Radio. Stay tuned for an extended video of that interview.
More on TreeHugger on Mountaintop Coal Mining
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EPA to Regulate Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining More Stringently