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RFK Jr. calls out the corrupting power of coal

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“Coal is a crime.” Succinctly put by the environmental lawyer and anti-coal advocate John F. Kennedy Jr. this week in Portland where hundreds rallied against proposals to bring mile-long coal trains from the Midwest to Pacific Northwest ports for export to Asia, mainly China.

Kennedy, president of the Waterkeeper Alliance and senior attorney for the National Resources Defense Council, said that the half-dozen or so pending proposals in the PNW will lead to political corruption and environmental damage, while the actual number of jobs created will be minimal. In addition King Coal’s influence would “seep” into the Oregon and Washington state legislatures, buying legislators who would otherwise vote against the proposal with campaign money and the promise of jobs.

“It’s going to end up leaving Portland with a legacy of pollution, poison and corruption,” Kennedy said.

Environmentalists say that the dust emitted from trains hauling tens of millions of tons of coal would pollute the proposed routes while opening the door to further environmental damage from its use in Asia.

Kennedy said the U.S. believes it can export the environmental problems from coal, but it will find that mercury from its use in Asia washes up on the Pacific shore while acidifying the ocean.

“Anybody who touches coal gets poisoned by it,” said Kennedy,”You don’t just get sick. It poisons democracy, it poisons communities, it poisons values.”

And that’s why coal is a crime that should not be exported overseas or allowed to pass through this region’s communities for the sake of a few jobs. “We’ve got lots of better sources for jobs,” Kennedy said. “If you were really interested in jobs, let’s build wind farms, let’s build solar plants. Let’s use the marketplace to incentivize good behavior.”

Thank you Robert Jr. – somewhere a proud father is smiling. The father who said: “There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why… I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?”

[Image: coal trains in Kansas by colin_n via Flickr]

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Written by William DiBenedetto

9 May, 2012 at 12:09 pm

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