Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s environmental group that heavily opposed allowing hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in New York has ties to a company being investigated by federal agents.
The Arizona-based AbTech Industries is at the center of a federal investigation for its business dealing with Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, the leading Republican in the state Senate, and his son Adam.
But even more interesting is that AbTech has strong ties to Waterkeeper, an environmental group that has opposed fracking in New York state. Capital New York reports that there “is no indication that Kennedy’s environmental group, Waterkeeper, has done anything wrong or is part of the federal probe” but adds that “the group is tightly intertwined with more than one of the players in that investigation.”
Federal investigators are looking into Adam’s role in pressuring Nassau County to enter into a $12 million contract with AbTech — which makes pollution filters for sewers and stormwater runoff. Adam as hired by AbTech and lives in Nassau County.
Interestingly enough, Kennedy hailed the deal between AbTech and Nassau County, reports CNY. Kennedy also appeared on the Fox Business channel last year to promote AbTech.
“This will rightly serve as the model for other municipalities throughout the country,” Kennedy said in the statement after the Nassau deal was completed in 2013. “AbTech has my full support and I look forward to further advancing the visibility of the company.”
This shouldn’t be too surprising. AbTech’s president and CEO, Glenn Rink, chairs the board of directors for Waterkeeper — a group which was founded by Kennedy. RFK joined AbTech’s advisory board in 2010, and the company admits to using activist groups to sell its product.
It’s also no secret that Kennedy is close with Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The two were brothers-in-law until Cuomo divorced RFK’s sister, but Kennedy still seems to hold influence over the Democratic governor.
The New York Daily News reported in 2013 that Kennedy “convinced Cuomo to await the findings from a new study before giving his go-ahead to” fracking. According to the report, Cuomo had been “considering a plan to approve 40 wells using the controversial hydraulic fracturing drilling method.”
“It was the closest that Cuomo had come to giving the nod to fracking during his two years in office,” the NY Daily News reported.
Cuomo was expected to eventually approve fracking, but impose heavy regulations on the process. But last year Cuomo banned the well-stimulation technique, saying it was unsafe.
Oddly enough, it seems Skelos and his son were lobbying New York state health officials to issue new regulations on fracking that would benefit AbTech’s bottom-line. Skelos believed in 2013 that Cuomo would approve fracking, but that day never came.
Despite the setback, investigation documents note that Skelos and his son were prepared to move forward with “that other stuff” they could make money on. They were talking about getting lucrative contracts for stormwater projects.
Skelos and his son were arrested by authorities Monday on charges of extortion, fraud, bribery and solicitation.
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