by Robert Redford / Natural Resources Defense Council –
Over the next few weeks, President Bush and his congressional allies will try once again to ram their disastrous energy bill through the U.S. Senate. They fell only two votes short in November and they’ve vowed to make passage of the bill their top priority now that Congress has returned from recess.
This bill may be the worst piece of legislation you and I will see in our lifetimes. It would pick your pocket, despoil your natural heritage, endanger your family’s health and smother your hope for a more secure energy future. We ignore this bill at our own peril.
Let me tell you our simple plan for thwarting this shameless attack on our environment and pocketbooks. If millions of Americans each took one minute to protest this bill, it would cause every senator who is tempted to vote for it to think twice about doing so.
You can make this happen within the next few hours by doing two things:
First, go to http://www.savebiogemsorg/takeaction.asp and send your two senators an email or fax, telling them to vote against this pro-polluter energy bill.
Then, forward my email to at least four of your friends, family members or colleagues.
I am emailing this message to 500,000 BioGems Defenders and other NRDC activists. If each one forwards this message to just four more people, we will generate a national tidal wave of opposition before this day is over.
And that won’t be a moment too soon. This disgraceful bill would pick our pockets to hand out billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to the oil, coal and nuclear industries. That’s their long-awaited reward for making big-time contributions to the Bush-Cheney campaign. They profit while the rest of us pay the price — in tax dollars and environmental degradation.
This bill gives the energy giants a free pass to drill their way through our last wild places, burn more dirty coal, build a new generation of risky nuclear power plants and dramatically increase air pollution that would sicken the vulnerable — especially children and seniors — for decades to come.
It would establish oil and gas development as the dominant use of our federal public lands, open national parks to the construction of electricity transmission lines, exempt polluters from core provisions of our clean air and water laws and waive liability for the producers of the toxic gasoline additive MTBE — even though it has contaminated at least 1,500 public water supplies in all 50 American states.
You’d be hard-pressed to come up with a more backward-looking, wasteful and self-defeating energy “plan” than this one. At a time when the federal deficit is soaring and we’re going to war in the Persian Gulf oilfields, the White House wants to stick us with the tab for prolonging our destructive dependence on fossil fuels, foreign oil and dangerous nuclear technology.
This is not a national energy policy. This is corporate welfare, pure and simple. Estimates of the bill’s corporate tax breaks range from $23 billion to well over $100 billion with loan guarantees included. No surprise there. Big energy companies cooked up this raid on the federal treasury during hundreds of secret meetings with Vice President Cheney’s energy task force and their allies on Capitol Hill.
It’s one thing to gouge taxpayers. But to claim this rip-off is in the national interest, as the White House would have us believe, is a slap in the face to every working American.
Poll after poll shows that the vast majority of voters — of both parties — understand that we simply must reduce our out-of-control appetite for fossil fuels if we ever are to secure energy independence. That means turning American rooftops into the Persian Gulf of solar energy. It means producing cars that get 40 miles per gallon. It means constructing efficient buildings that use half the energy of the average American office without sacrificing comfort.
Making this transformation to a super-efficient, low-pollution economy would save consumers upwards of a trillion dollars, spare our last wild places from destruction, improve our health, slow global warming and reduce our dependence on undemocratic regimes overseas. It’s a no-brainer to anyone living outside the White House.
But unless millions of Americans speak out right now, the enactment of the president’s energy bill will doom us to an apocalyptic future of blighted wilderness, poisonous air pollution, devastating climate change and endless wars over fossil fuels.
Please make your voice heard. Go to http://www.savebiogemsorg/takeaction.asp and tell your senators to obey the will of the American people, *not* the dictates of giant energy corporations! Call on Congress to create a sustainable and affordable energy path.
And please be sure to forward this message to at least four other people. Believe me, millions of Americans are just waiting for a simple way to stop this madness and lend their support to a sane and hopeful energy future.
Actor, director and activist Robert Redford serves on the Board of Trustees of the Natural Resources Defense Council
For more information see: BioGems: Saving Endangered Wild Places, a project of the Natural Resources Defense Council