Message From Robert Redford on Energy Security

Robert Redford urges responsible methods for reducing our oil consumption and against passage of a bill that would open the Artic Refuge and Greater Yellowstone to oil drilling.

Note: Shel Horowitz’s book, Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First, contains a great deal of other information about the interplay of marketing and social change, and ways to move a business toward both environmental and economic sustainablity.

Dear Friend,

It is understandable that we Americans feel an almost reflexive need
for unanimity in trying times like these. As a nation, we are rightly
consumed with responding to the terrorist attacks on September 11th.
But, at some point — and I think we’re beginning to get there — we
need to take a long-term view even as we are reacting to the current
crisis. Really important domestic issues facing us before all of this
happened — education, energy and the environment, health care —
still have the same dimension and consequence. But we have to
recognize that it’s much more difficult to discuss and debate them in
the aftermath of Sept. 11th. Unfortunately, disagreement is sometimes
characterized as unpatriotic during times such as these and open,
thoughtful discourse is somewhat muted. The gravity of the current
situation is not lost on any of us and we all want to do what’s right
to insure our national security. It is with this in mind that I felt
compelled to write you today.

A handful of determined U.S. senators, encouraged by the White House,
are arguing that national security requires the Senate to rush a
pro-oil energy bill into law. They have vowed to hold up normal Senate
business and attach the bill to every piece of legislation that comes
to the Senate floor. So far they have failed in what The Boston Globe
is calling “oil opportunism.” But with President Bush, himself, now
calling for rushed passage of this disastrous bill, intense pressure
is building on Senate leaders to succumb to the emotions of the
moment. Using our national tragedy as an opportunity to advance the
narrow interests of the oil lobby would not be in the best interest of
the public. This bill, already passed by the House, would not only
open the Arctic Refuge to oil rigs, it would also pave the way for
energy companies to exploit and destroy pristine areas of Greater
Yellowstone and other gems of our natural heritage. As important, it
would do nothing to address energy security.

I’m asking for your immediate help in stopping this legislation. After
reading my letter I hope you’ll take action at and then
forward this letter to your friends and colleagues.

Last spring, the Bush administration and some members of Congress said
we had to pass the president’s oil-friendly energy bill because we
were facing the most serious energy crisis since 1973. But here we
are, a mere six months later, and the energy crisis has vanished. Due
to a slowing economy and falling demand, the prices for gasoline,
natural gas and home heating oil have plunged. Meanwhile, the
much-feared “summer of blackouts” in California never happened,
largely because consumers and businesses made dramatic cuts in energy
use by launching the most successful statewide conservation campaign
in history.

With no energy crisis to scare us with, the administration and pro-oil
senators are now promoting their “Drill the Arctic” plan under the
guise of national security and energy independence. Don’t buy it. It
would take ten years to bring Arctic oil to market, and when it
arrives it would never equal more than two percent — a mere drop in
the bucket — of all the oil we consume each year. Our nation simply
doesn’t have enough oil to drill our way to energy independence or
even to affect world oil prices.

We possess a mere 3 percent of the world’s oil reserves, but we
consume fully 25 percent of the world’s oil supply. We could drill the
Arctic Refuge, Greater Yellowstone, and every other wildland in
America and we’d still be importing oil, still be paying worldwide
prices for domestic oil, and still be vulnerable to wild gyrations in
price and supply. As The Atlanta Constitution put it: “Burning through
our tiny oil supply faster will not make our country more secure.” I’d
go further: increasing our dependence on oil, whether that oil comes
from the Persian Gulf or the Arctic Refuge, practically guarantees
national *insecurity*. And we know that it will bring more habitat
destruction, more oil spills, more air pollution, and more global
warming. The public health implications will be devastating.

If our nation wants to declare energy independence, then we have no
choice but to reduce our appetite for oil. There’s no other way. We
need to rely on smarter and cleaner ways to power our economy. We have
the technology right now to increase fuel economy standards to 40
miles per gallon. If we phased in that standard by 2012 we’d save 15
times more oil than the Arctic Refuge is likely to produce over 50
years. We could also give tax rebates for existing hybrid gas-electric
vehicles that get as much as 60 mpg. We could invest in public
transit. We could launch an “Apollo Project” to bring fuel cells and
hydrogen fuel down to earth, allowing us to begin the mass production
of vehicles that emit only water as a by-product. The list goes on and

In this climate of national trauma and war, it is up to us — the
people — to ensure that reason prevails and our natural heritage
survives intact. The preservation of irreplaceable wildlands like the
Arctic Refuge and Greater Yellowstone is a core American value. I have
never been more appreciative of the wisdom of that value than during
these past few weeks. When we are filled with grief and unanswerable
questions it is often nature that we turn to for refuge and comfort.
In the sanctuary of a forest or the vastness of the desert or the
silence of a grassland, we can touch a timeless force larger than
ourselves and our all-too-human problems. This is where the healing
begins. Those who would sell out this natural heritage — this
spiritual heritage — would destroy a wellspring of American strength.
What’s worse, their rush to exploit the wildness that feeds our souls
won’t do a thing to solve our energy problems.

There are plenty of sensible and patriotic ways to guarantee our
nation’s energy security, but destroying the Arctic Refuge is not one
of them. Please tell that to your senators. They urgently need to hear
it because the pressure is on to move this pro-oil bill to a vote in
the next few weeks. It will take you only a minute to send them an
electronic message from NRDC’s SaveBioGems website.

Go to

And please forward this message to your family and friends. Millions
of Americans need to know about this cynical attempt to promote the
interests of energy companies at the expense of everyone else.

Sincerely yours,

Robert Redford


BioGems: Saving Endangered Wild Places
A project of the Natural Resources Defense Council

Note: Shel Horowitz’s book, Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First, contains a great deal of other information about the interplay of marketing and social change, and ways to move a business toward both environmental and economic sustainablity.


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