Robert F. Kennedy Jr. sat down with Video4Good at the 2012 COMMIT!Forum in New York.  In an extended interview, Kennedy discusses his career in the environmental movement and the impacts of business on the planet.  He explores the roots of environmental problems, analyzes the current situation and offers solutions for creating a healthy, prosperous future for society and the natural world.

In this video, Part Seven of the interview, he discusses fracking and the importance of a strong regulatory structure for enforcing environmental standards in the coal and gas industries.


There’s a lot of recent data that has come out particularly in the last year, that indicates that the perils of fracking are much greater than anybody first imagined.  And there is over the next five years a 30 percent failure and there is, over the life of the wells, every one is going to fail because concrete crumbles and steel rusts. When that happens you’re releasing methane into our ground water which is irreplaceable and you’re poisoning people – but you’re also releasing huge amounts of methane into the atmosphere and methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than even carbon.  It’s 20 times more efficient in trapping greenhouse gas. 

Originally we thought gas is a good thing compared to coal because it only has 40 percent of the carbon, and it has much less acid rain, no mercury, no ozone particulates.  It’s much cleaner burning, but we’re now looking at it and finding out that actually the impacts on global warming could even be worse than coal. And the impacts on the health of people who live within proximity of the frack wells is — could be really catastrophic. 

The industry is so powerful that it’s been able to win itself exemptions to most of the big, applicable environmental laws like the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Water Act, the Resource Conservation Recovery Act and the oil industry is also exempt from superfund.  So, an industry with that kind of clout and with the inclination to pollute can figure out ways to do it and can also subvert the regulatory process by getting rid of enforcement.  And all of these new regulations depend on regular, rigorous, strict enforcement and it really stretches credibility to believe that that’s going to happen because you know there are so many ways that these industries can capture the agencies that are supposed to regulate them, and to make them essentially sock puppets for the industry that they’re supposed to regulate.