Wisconsin State Journal (Madison),
October 31, 1997
Kennedy: Son and nephew of slain political leaders
brings his environmental message to Madison
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
- environmental message to Madison
The time to stop the proposed Crandon mine from despoiling the Wolf River is before the mine is built, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. warns.
Kennedy, son of the late U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and nephew of President John F. Kennedy, built his own reputation around efforts to clean up the Hudson River in New York.
His efforts, and those of his colleagues, have forced corporations that pollute the Hudson to spend $1 billion in remedial programs.
But, though fish are now plentiful in the river, they cannot be eaten with safety, Kennedy warned during a visit to Madison on Thursday.
That's why it's important not to let mining in northern Wisconsin destroy the Wolf, he said in an interview.
"There are probably ways you could build the mine without destroying natural resources. But the idea they're proposing now, of sucking water and running it across the watershed before disposing of it (in the Wisconsin River) is not the way.
"There is a high chance of not only contaminating the resources, but also of destroying the watershed," Kennedy assserted.
Crandon Mining Co. officials insist the mine will not pollute the river or the watershed.
"If it is not possible to build a mine that protects the Wolf River, then there will be no Crandon Mine," company president Rodney Harrill said in a letter to the editor earlier this year.
Kennedy was in Madison to speak to the Association of Wisconsin School Administrators and to promote the book, "The Riverkeepers" (Scribner: $25), he and his colleague John Cronin just published.
He said he remains optimistic about the environmental movement, despite the politicians.
"The 104th Congress was the worst Congress in history in terms of the environment. The 105th Congress is the second worse. It just passed a 'takings bill' that will block the ability of governments to protect land; it's a disaster."
Kennedy said his biggest environmental fears center on urban sprawl.
"It's the destruction of landscapes, the homogenization of tract housing developments and the destruction of the small merchants, the people who give to the Little League and who care about the community and who are being wiped out and replaced by box stores and malls and strip malls owned by people who live in distant communities.," he said.
Recent studies show that subdivisions on the outskirts of cities cost the cities $1 for every 38 cents in taxes they pay.
"One argument is that's what people want." he conceded. "But we're losing
our landscapes; we're losing our farmland....You can use zoning laws to regulate
growth and people ought to be doing more and more of that."