Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

RFK Jr. spreads the word on green

Author, activist and environmental advocate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. told a standing-room-only crowd in DU’s June Swaner Gates Concert Hall that Colorado should be the flagship state for renewable energy. And he offered a glimpse into the way he sees the future without dependence on foreign oil.

“Colorado is well positioned to lead the renewable energy effort,” Kennedy said. “There’s a real opportunity here.”

He explained that Colorado’s richness in natural gas makes it a legitimate leader in the field.

“You live in a wilderness state that’s enriched with nature,” he said in his nearly 90-minute speech to DU students, staff, faculty and local community members.

He said changing from oil and coal to natural energy sources such as wind, solar and natural gas can be done “quickly and cheaply” and said $150 billion would be enough for a national grid to distribute natural energy sources.

In Israel, Kennedy said he’s working to convert all vehicles, except for large trucks, to become battery operated within three years. He added that he has contracts to do the same in Australia, Denmark, Hawaii and Northern California.

Kennedy also took sharp stabs at what he called “antiquated and misaligned” U.S. energy policies, saying they reward the “dirtiest, filthiest ways to produce energy.” The remark drew applause.

“Show me a polluter and I’ll show you a subsidy,” he said. “We protect the environment because nature enriches us historically, aesthetically and spiritually.”

His speech was part of the Voices of Experience speaker series for business leaders sponsored by DU’s Daniels College of Business.

Bruce Hutton, Daniels dean emeritus, said the school chose Kennedy as a speaker because of his proven commitment to sustainability issues. “He’s a recognized leader in the area, and it’s an important issue at the school and in our community,” Hutton said. “In fact, all of our MBA students have to take a class in sustainability.”

The Voices of Experience series continues on March 2 when Ed Mueller, chairman and CEO of Qwest Communications International, speaks on the reemergence of the telecom industry. On May 7, Dick Kelly, chairman, president and CEO of Xcel Energy, will cover ethics in environmental leadership.

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