Is RFK Jr. Just "Too Controversial"?

Politico reports that Robert F. Kennedy Jr. may be "too controversial" a pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency.

Some energy and environmental lobbyists are worried that Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s controversial past would thwart his Senate confirmation if President-elect Barack Obama tapped him to be administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

A well-respected climate lawyer, Kennedy has also been in the spotlight for his controversial environmental statements.

As reported by Politico, the issue with RFK Jr. is simply that he shoots his mouth off occasionally, such as by calling global warming skeptics "traitors" or suggesting factory farms are a bigger threat to the American way of life than Islamist terrorists. It also notes he occasionally lets his personal preferences get in the way of sound environmental policy, as when he opposed the Cape Wind offshore wind power project.

Yet the problems with RFK Jr. as the head of a powerful regulatory agency go much deeper. As Walter Olson notes, appointing RFK Jr. would make a mockery of President-elect Obama's campaign pledges to reduce the politicization of science. Among other things, RFK Jr. has endorsed scientifically discredited claims alleging a vaccine-autism link and labels those who dare to disagree with him crooks and traitors. So it should be no surprise that a wide range of science bloggers, from ORAC to P.Z. Myers to Mark Hoofnagle, among others, oppose an RFK nomination. It should say something when folks who generally share Kennedy's political views still find him an unacceptable choice to head the nation's primary environmental regulatory agency.

There are plenty of well-qualified, left-leaning, pro-regulatory environmental leaders capable of heading EPA. RFK Jr. is just not one of them.

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  1. Is RFK Jr. Just "Too Controversial"?
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