Long before it became de rigueur to care about the environment, a young Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was championing its cause in the Oval Office. “I had a sense from when I was very young that pollution is theft,” he told 914INC. in a 2010 interview. “When I was 9, I wrote my uncle, President Kennedy, a letter, asking if I could come talk to him about pollution. I told him I wanted to write a book about pollution, and he arranged for me to interview members of his administration. It’s a preoccupation that has been with me all of my life.”
After becoming an attorney, Kennedy completed Pace University’s master’s degree in environmental law and founded the university’s Environmental Litigation Clinic. The clinic represents Ossining-based Hudson Riverkeeper, a nonprofit that seeks to protect the iconic waterway. As Riverkeeper’s chief prosecutor, Kennedy has successfully brought more than 150 legal actions against the river’s various polluters. Kennedy’s work also inspired the creation of more than 100 Waterkeeper organizations around the world, and their umbrella group called the Waterkeeper Alliance.
In addition, the Mount Kisco resident teaches environmental law to other lawyers at Pace and runs a wildlife rehabilitation center out of his home. While his recent comments on autism and vaccines have sparked controversy, there’s no doubt that his environmentalism is sound. Time magazine has offered proof of that, naming him one of its “Heroes for the Planet.”