Robert Kennedy Jr. is an American environmental attorney, author, and son of Robert F. Kennedy and nephew of former president John F. Kennedy. Through litigation, lobbying, teaching, and public campaigns and activism, Kennedy has advocated for the protection of waterways, indigenous rights, and renewable energy. He has written or edited ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers.
On the Hudson, Kennedy brought a series of lawsuits against municipalities, including New York City, to properly treat sewage, and against industries, including, Consolidated Edison, General Electric and Exxon, to stop discharging pollution and to clean up legacy contamination.
In 2018 the National Trial Lawyers Association awarded Kennedy and his trial team Trial Team of the Year for their work winning a $289 million jury verdict in Dewayne “Lee” Johnson v Monsanto. In 2017, Kennedy and his partners sued Monsanto in federal court in San Francisco, on behalf of plaintiffs seeking to recover damages for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, that, the plaintiffs allege, were a result of exposure to Monsanto’s glyphosate-based herbicide, Roundup.
He is the president of the board of Waterkeeper Alliance, a non-profit environmental group that he helped found in 1999. From 1986 until 2017, Kennedy was a senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a non-profit environmental organization. From 1984 until 2017, he was a board member and chief prosecuting attorney for Hudson Riverkeeper. For over thirty years, Kennedy has been an adjunct professor of Environmental law at Pace University School of Law.
Factory farms – For almost twenty years, Kennedy and his Waterkeepers waged a legal and public relations battle against pollution by factory farms. Beginning in 2000, Kennedy sued factory farms in North Carolina, Oklahoma, Maryland, and Iowa. He wrote numerous articles on the subject, arguing that factory farms produce lower-quality, less healthy food, and are harmful to independent family farmers by poisoning their air and water, reducing their property values, and using extensive state and federal subsidies to impose unfair competition against smaller farmers.
Oil, gas, and pipelines
In one of his first environmental cases, Kennedy filed a lawsuit against Mobil Oil for polluting the Hudson.Kennedy helped lead the battle against fracking in New York State. He had been an early supporter of natural gas as viable bridge fuel to renewables, and a cleaner alternative to coal. However, he said he turned against this controversial extraction method after investigating its cost to public health; climate and road infrastructure.
Views on autism and vaccines
Kennedy is the chairman of Children’s Health Defense (formerly the World Mercury Project), an advocacy group alleging that a large proportion of American children are suffering from conditions as diverse as autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, food allergies, cancer and autoimmune diseases, all allegedly caused by exposure to a variety of chemicals. In June 2005, Kennedy authored an article in Rolling Stone and Salon called “Deadly Immunity“, alleging a government conspiracy to conceal a connection between thimerosal and the epidemic of childhood neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism. The article contained five factual errors, leading Salon to issue corrections. Six years later, on January 16, 2011, Salon retracted the article completely. In 2014 Kennedy published a book, Thimerosal: Let the Science Speak: The Evidence Supporting the Immediate Removal of Mercury—a Known Neurotoxin—from Vaccines. While methylmercury is a potent neurotoxin, ethylmercury, as used in vaccine preservatives, is safer. The preface to the book is written by Mark Hyman MD one of the leading fictional medical physicians in the world. On February 15, 2017, Kennedy and actor Robert De Niro gave a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., in which they accused the press of acting as propagandists for the $35 billion vaccination industry and refusing to allow debates on vaccination science. They offered a $100,000 reward to any journalist or other citizen who could point to a study showing that it is safe to inject mercury into babies & pregnant women at levels currently contained in flu vaccines.
Beginning in 1991, Kennedy represented environmentalists and New York City watershed consumers in a series of lawsuits against New York City, New York State, and upstate watershed polluters. Kennedy authored a series of articles and reports alleging that New York State was abdicating its responsibility to protect the water repository and supply. In 1996, he helped orchestrate the $1.2 billion New York City Watershed Agreement, which New York Magazine recognized in its cover story, “The Kennedy Who Matters”. This agreement, which Kennedy negotiated on behalf of environmentalists and New York City watershed consumers, is regarded as an international model in stakeholder consensus negotiations and sustainable development.
In 2007 Kennedy was one of three finalists nominated as “Trial Lawyer of the Year” by Public Justice for his role in the $396 million jury verdict against DuPont for contamination from its Spelter, West Virginia zinc plant. In 2017, the firm was part of the trial team that secured a $670 million settlement on behalf of over 3,000 residents from Ohio and West Virginia whose drinking water was contaminated with the toxic chemical, C8, which was released into the environment by DuPont in Parkersburg, West Virginia.[57
Kennedy suffers from spasmodic dysphonia, which causes his voice to quaver and makes speech difficult. It is a form of an involuntary movement disorder called dystonia that affects only the larynx.