ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR: My Independent Environmental Policy Will Unite Americans

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In the halcyon days of 1960s environmentalism, environmental protection enjoyed broad public support across party lines. But as time passed, it became yet another wedge issue dividing our nation.

Now that I’ve announced an independent run for president, Americans will have a chance to vote for an environmental agenda that can unify the country. That’s because I will realign environmental policy with broadly shared values and commonsense priorities. My policy will give equal emphasis to places, people and planet.

In 40 years as an environmental lawyer, I brought hundreds of cases to court challenging government agencies and corporations. Each time, the issue was a tangible threat to human health and local wildlife, air, water and soil.

I sued Mobil Oil to reverse its pollution of the Hudson River, making it safe to swim and fish in again. I sued DuPont, Mitsubishi and Ford to force them to clean up chemical spills. I sued Monsanto on behalf of farm workers and families who developed cancer from pesticides.

I fought and won victories for family farmers in the Heartland, mountain communities in rural West Virginia and inner-city neighborhoods in New York City.

The organization I founded, Waterkeeper Alliance, is now the largest organization devoted exclusively to clean water, protecting 2.7 million miles of waterways with more than 300 Waterkeepers in 47 countries.

In all that time, I found that Americans across the political spectrum love nature. We all want future generations to enjoy a world with clean water, wholesome food, abundant wildlife and healthy oceans, meadows and forests. Yet somehow, divisive political forces have set the public arguing against each other so vociferously that hardly anyone notices as corporate interests strip away all that we love.

In this election, I am inviting people to meet on common ground. United, we will clean up the air we breathe and the water we drink, protect our fisheries and wild places, rebuild our soils, get toxic chemicals and pesticides out of our food and eliminate the influence of corporate polluters over our government.

What about climate change? I believe climate change is existential, but I will not demand that everyone get on board with climate orthodoxy, which is turning our environment into a casualty of culture wars. It is not necessary. Why? Because we can protect our health, our farmland, our waterways, our forests and our wildlife in ways that help the climate too.

When we build soil, we safeguard our food supply and draw down carbon. When we restore forests and wetlands, we preserve wildlife habitat and mitigate floods and droughts. When we replace dirty fuels with clean sources of energy, we protect our health and reduce emissions.

As a president beholden to neither major party, I will pursue win-win policies that make sense from both inside and outside a climate perspective. Here are some of my top environmental priorities:

Clean up the agencies

In order to clean up the environment, we must first clean up the agencies that are supposed to protect it. The Environmental Protection Agency, Bureau of Land Management and Department of Agriculture (USDA) have all been captured by corporate interests. I will replace their leadership with honest public servants and people with hands-on experience in environmental cleanup and ecological restoration.

Eliminate Subsidies

The fossil fuel industry has received enormous taxpayer subsidies under both former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden. And some of Biden’s subsidies under the Inflation Reduction Act are even going to Big Oil for false environmental solutions like “carbon capture.” I will allow them to compete on the free market instead.

“Polluter Pays”

A free market cannot operate if the polluter gets the profits while society pays the costs. I will eliminate that as a business model. When companies are responsible for the damage they cause, they will have an incentive to develop clean manufacturing processes. And when they can earn biodiversity credits, they’ll have an incentive to preserve and restore habitat. The economy and ecology will come into alignment, and the power of business will be unleashed to solve our environmental problems.

Regenerative Farming

Everyone wants healthy food. With organic regenerative farming, America’s small farmers can take back food production from global corporations and restore soil, aquifers and their own prosperity. To do that will require wresting control of the USDA away from agribusiness and the pesticide industry. I will also shift subsidies and create a farm loan refinancing program to help farmers transition to regenerative practices.

Natural Habitat and Wildlife

It is a sad fact that the same pattern of sacrificing ecosystems and habitats that has caused so much ruin to extract coal and oil is now repeating in the quest for minerals and biofuels for “green” energy. We need to understand that intact ecosystems are like the organs of a living being. They are essential to maintaining planetary resiliency and a stable water cycle and climate. We should not sacrifice them in a mad dash for lithium, cobalt, silver, and so on. Instead, we need to focus more on efficiency, conservation, local scale and innovation.

Environmental protection can once again become an issue that unifies Americans. As president, I will enact an independent environmental agenda centered on soil, water and life that the American people can agree on.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is running for president as an Independent. Learn more at Kennedy24.com.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller.