Robert Redford says:

This is lifted in its entirety from Wil Wheaton:

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

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