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We know how to solve our energy problems and to fight global warming—all we lack is honest, bold leadership. We had better find that leadership quickly, and not just for the sake of bringing down energy prices, but because it's essential to keep our whole economy competitive in a world rapidly moving beyond the dirty fuels of the past.
The first step is making a real investment in energy efficiency. New fuel-efficiency standards for cars and trucks enacted last December are a small step in the right direction, but we can go much further. In fact, if we could get the average American car running at 40 miles per gallon, we could save more than 20 billion barrels of oil, which is more than the oil companies could ever get out of all of the protected offshore areas combined.
With intelligent policies, we could get plug-in hybrids, electric cars and new, clean biofuels to market faster. A 2007 report from NRDC and the Electric Power Research Institute predicts that plug-in hybrids could cut U.S. oil consumption by up to 4 million barrels a day by mid-century, while reducing global warming pollution at the same time. That would be like taking more than 82 million cars off the road.
With intelligent policies, we could clean up the power grid that charges those plug-in hybrids, replacing filthy coal and nuclear power, with its dangerous waste and considerable safety problems, with energy from the wind and the sun, and from advanced biofuels. Just look at what California has been able to do in the realm of solar power and energy efficiency in such a short time. Those same intelligent policies would also bring a flood of investments in clean-energy projects from Wall Street—investments that now stay out of the energy markets because Washington has been unwilling to commit to a clean-energy future for America.
—Robert Redford in the Sept/Oct 2008 issue Nature's Voice
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