Robert F. Kennedy Jr. speaks at 2-day national water conference hosted by Pleasanton

Keynote speaker calls for national program similar to FDR's 'New Deal'

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is many things: professor, attorney, author and political activist. But it was his passion, the environment, that brought him to Pleasanton Thursday.

Kennedy was keynote speaker at a regional meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Water Council, and although his talk touched on water issues, it focused primarily on the need to move away from oil and coal and toward green technologies, including solar, wind and geothermal energy.

The conference was hosted by Pleasanton Mayor Jennifer Hosterman, who is co-chair of the mayors' Water Council.

Kennedy is calling for the building of a national power grid with lines that can carry power over long distances.

"What we need to do is to create in this country the same thing Eisenhower did in the '50s and '60s (building the interstate highway system)," Kennedy said. "We need to build a national supergrid."

Kennedy said that's just one of three keys needed to make sustainable energy a reality in the U.S. He also called for a national marketplace for energy, letting those whose homes generate more electricity than they use sell it to power companies at full market rate.

And, he said, the county needs to end what he called subsidies to incumbents. Kennedy said taxpayers not only subsidize oil and coal companies, they also pay to clean up the wastes they leave behind and increased health care costs due to pollution.

Kennedy said sustainable energy could become a reality sooner, rather than later, if those three keys are put into place. Wind farms in the plains states could produce enough electricity to power the entire country; large-scale solar farms could do the same, and he said the U.S. is sitting on top of the second largest source for geothermal power in the world.

Creating sustainable energy, Kennedy said, would be good for taxpayers, calling it "the single biggest tax break in America."

Business would benefit, too, he said, "because their single biggest expense is energy."

Kennedy can envision a national program similar to Franklin D. Roosevelt's "New Deal," putting Americans to work to make homes more energy efficient.

Ending the country's dependence on coal and oil would pay off for the environment, too, he said, because large mining and oil companies would no longer be dumping toxic chemicals.

Kennedy, the son of slain presidential candidate and former attorney general Bobby Kennedy, is vice chair and chief prosecuting attorney for Riverkeeper, an environmental group dedicated to cleaning the Hudson River, and chairman of Waterkeeper Alliance, a network of people who patrol and protect rivers and streams worldwide. He said a fifth of the water in the Adirondacks is sterilized because of big coal, and because he's a fisherman and he eats what he catches, he has high levels of toxic mercury in his body.

His talk kicked off the two-day meeting of the U.S. Mayors Water Council that wrapped up Friday.. Among the issues discussed at the conference were the water supply and flood management of the Delta, CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) and water laws, and how the endangered species act is affecting water supply and management in the state.

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Like this comment
Posted by joan
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Oct 15, 2010 at 1:35 pm

It is bull. This man is a former doper and now we our to believe he is the expert on green jobs, green everything, and of course water. GIVE US A BREAK SEND HIM HOME.

Like this comment
Posted by Margaret
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 15, 2010 at 2:02 pm

Did his visit cost anything to the Pleasanton taxpayers?

He is a total is in the same category as Al Gore.

It is a good thing I wasn't in attendance at this meeting...or there would have been verbal fireworks.

Like this comment
Posted by None of the Above
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 15, 2010 at 2:33 pm

I'm perplexed. What part of what he said do you disagree with? That we can create sustainable energy to eliminate our dependence on oil and coal? That creating green jobs can help turn the economy around?

As to water, he's legal counsel for Riverkeeper, which was responsible in large measure for cleaning up the Hudson River in New York State, and founded the Waterkeeper alliance. I suspect he knows about water issues.

Oh, and that's EX-doper. Apparently he's been clean for 26 years. Does that count for anything with you?

"There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance - that principle is contempt prior to investigation." -- William Paley

Like this comment
Posted by Judy
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 15, 2010 at 2:55 pm

This ZEALOT is an idiot and a genuine danger to all of us and our country. He wants taxpayers to pay other idiots who are street bums to make our homes energy efficient. So twisted !
He is another one stuck in the 80's and has NOT changed with science! Dangerous Idiots are still pushing covering all land with solar panels that require building power lines for long distances to deliver power to metropolitian areas ! Wasting more of OUR Obama $$ on building power transmission towers...which ENVIRONMENTALISTS & wineries in Livermore blocked/STOPPED building thru here ! Costly lawsuits are across the country & there will be more for the FED gov't to litigate to gain rights to build these ugly & expensive towers across America ! One tiny nuclear plant could do what all his crap can do. Wake up & shut him up. Sorry Jennifer brought him here !He is stuck in the old world...destroying America. He is stuck with his own & old SPECIAL INTERESTS...he does NOT care about clean power OR else he would be promoting new tiny, affordable, ALL-CLEAN, nuclear power...instead of asssulting our US countrysides ! Without his name he wouldn't be invited anywhere. ..and fools are bent over saying stick me again ! His old ideas will take us down. don't support anything you don't fully understand the COST, WHO pays, number of homes PER ACRE, number of homes PER $$....AFTER YOUR GRANKIDS ARE ON THE HOOK, and AFTER WE FIND IT WAS THE ' WRONG ' CHOICE...IS TOO LATE. It's NO.. IF YOU don't understand everything ! !

Like this comment
Posted by DB
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Oct 15, 2010 at 5:33 pm

What a pack of lies. Among them:
(1) Solar and wind are heavily subsidized, not Oil and Coal.
(2) Wind and solar have tremendous environmental impact too: toxic waste in manufacturing, energy consumption in manufacturing, adverse impact on wildlife, and tremendous eyesores (not to mention it's all made overseas).
(3) A simple calculation can tell you that the average wind speeds are such that wind could never substantially contribute to the power grid in the way he claims.
(4) Utilities will already buy energy from households is they generate excess electricity, but this is very inefficient.

BTW, it has been estimated that for every "green job" 10 real jobs are eliminated.

Like this comment
Posted by Kaimuki
a resident of Stoneridge
on Oct 16, 2010 at 7:31 am

Every "green job" in Spain costs the government about $500,000 and destroys five to eight real jobs.

Like this comment
Posted by Maria
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 16, 2010 at 4:59 pm

I honestly don't understand you folks. It's probably because you live in Pleasanton, where the skies aren't yellow with smog at night, and the vegetation consists of more than weeds growing in cracks in the sidewalk. Wake up and smell the car fumes; if everyone in the world lived the way that we live, we would need six Earths to fulfill our needs.
You don't need to give up all your earthly possessions to make a difference. Working towards sustainability is as simple as growing drought-tolerant plants in the yard, or opening up the windows at night instead of running the air conditioning.

Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Oct 16, 2010 at 8:57 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

On a related note, here's how smart the US has been with regards to "green", jobs, and the way it uses its money.

"Aren’t We Clever?" Web Link

"The push for green in China, she added, “is a practical discussion on health and wealth. There is no need to emphasize future consequences when people already see, eat and breathe pollution every day.”

And because runaway pollution in China means wasted lives, air, water, ecosystems and money — and wasted money means fewer jobs and more political instability — China’s leaders would never go a year (like we will) without energy legislation mandating new ways to do more with less. It’s a three-for-one shot for them. By becoming more energy efficient per unit of G.D.P., China saves money, takes the lead in the next great global industry and earns credit with the world for mitigating climate change."

"At the World Economic Forum meeting here, I met Mike Biddle, founder of MBA Polymers, which has invented processes for separating plastic from piles of junked computers, appliances and cars and then recycling it into pellets to make new plastic using less than 10 percent of the energy required to make virgin plastic from crude oil. Biddle calls it “above-ground mining.” In the last three years, his company has mined 100 million pounds of new plastic from old plastic. Biddle’s seed money was provided mostly by U.S. taxpayers through federal research grants, yet today only his tiny headquarters are in the U.S. His factories are in Austria, China and Britain. “I employ 25 people in California and 250 overseas,” he says. His dream is to have a factory in America that would repay all those research grants, but that would require a smart U.S. energy bill. Why?

“I am in the E.U. and China because the above-ground plastic mines are there or are being created there,” said Biddle, who just won The Economist magazine’s 2010 Innovation Award for energy/environment. “I am not in the U.S. because there aren’t sufficient mines.”

Biddle had enough money to hire one lobbyist to try to persuade the U.S. Congress to copy the recycling regulations of Europe, Japan and China in our energy bill, but, in the end, there was no bill. So we educated him, we paid for his tech breakthroughs — and now Chinese and European workers will harvest his fruit. Aren’t we clever?"

Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Oct 16, 2010 at 9:02 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

This is the problem with the GOP's solution to job creation, "Support Small Business". It's all makeup and no substance. When you get down to the details, small businesses in America just go scale up the jobs in other countries. There's no coordinated policy to help them scale up and create jobs here.

Like this comment
Posted by John D.
a resident of Country Fair
on Oct 17, 2010 at 1:55 pm

A highly-revered, famous, educated and published environmentalist comes to little ole Pleasanton to talk about water and energy issues at a conference that attracts a bunch of mayors and their staff, who fill local hotels and patronize restaurants, and you have a problem with that?

Like this comment
Posted by W Ron Sutton
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 19, 2010 at 3:02 pm

I was hoping to learn more about the #1 resource issue in the West, since it was developed, Water Rights and Use Management.
Is there more posted elsewhere?
No matter what we think of the messenger or the message, we should, at the least, start from some common ground, from which to make progress, because we need to PROGRESS, like:
"In the next generation, the USA economy can not afford to keep using the world's natural resources at our current rate, because, as Tom Friedman says, there are now "7 Americas" competing for those resources."

Like this comment
Posted by None of the Above
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 19, 2010 at 4:56 pm

@DB, I'd love to know where you get your information from. Can you back it with facts?

@Kaimuki, same question.

Extra points if that information comes from an unbiased source!

Like this comment
Posted by None of the Above
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 19, 2010 at 5:01 pm


Sorry that this has gotten you so upset. I'm hoping this can be a discussion, not a series of tirades. Back your claims with facts and maybe we can all get something out of this.

That said, I've never heard of all-clean nuclear power. Is there a technology I haven't heard that doesn't leave spent rods with 100,000 year half-lives?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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