UPDATE: The video of Redford on MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann is at the end.
Robert Redford calls on the President to get off his butt and start leading America away from dirty fossil fuels toward a clean energy future — in a video and blog post:
Okay, the “get off his butt” part was my interpretation of the video and this blog post:
Mr. President: Now is the Time For Clean Energy
Thursday, May 20, 2010, marks one month since BP’s oil rig exploded off the Gulf Coast, killing 11 people and unleashing one of the worst environmental disasters our nation has ever seen.
Since then, millions of gallons of oil have gushed into the ocean, poisoning marine life and threatening hundreds of miles of coastal waters, beaches and estuaries from the mouth of the Mississippi to the Florida Keys.
This is the clearest picture we could have of our failed national energy policy, which extends over many decades and administrations. Yet, shockingly, our elected officials in the Senate continue to drag their feet on enacting the policies that would bring the real change we need to shift our country from dirty to clean energy sources, while creating jobs and cutting our dependence on oil.
This oil disaster is threatening marine life and habitat in a region that accounts for about 70 percent of U.S. production of shrimp and oysters, as well as millions of pounds each year of red snapper, grouper, bluefin tuna, and other fish. Fishing has been shut down from the Mississippi River to the Florida Panhandle — an area of 46,000 square miles, or roughly the size of the state of Pennsylvania. These closures are devastating to thousands of Gulf Coast families who depend on this bounty for their livelihood. Many of these people are still reeling from the trauma of Hurricane Katrina five years ago.
I am glad that President Obama announced that he would appoint an independent commission to look at the causes of the blowout and determine what we must do to prevent this from ever happening again. This is an important first step in addressing the national tragedy and coming up with real solutions to prevent future drilling disasters.
But it is not enough.
Right now, the Senate has legislation on the table that would help move us in a new direction and put America back in control of its energy future. The American Power Act, drafted by Senators Kerry and Lieberman, is not perfect — but it is a significant step toward cutting our dependence on fossil fuels, limiting carbon pollution, and encouraging businesses to shift to clean energy sources.
Unfortunately, the full Senate continues to stall — weighed down by too much infighting and too many special interests. That’s why we need the president to assert his voice and leadership by letting the Senate — and the American people — know that he is serious about getting clean energy and climate legislation passed this year.
Americans want action. It is time for President Obama to use the power of his office to make sure we clean up this mess, and get America on a path to cleaner, safer energy.
In order to help get this message out, I’ve just recorded a new hard-hitting television commercial, produced by my colleagues at the Natural Resources Defense Council, calling on President Obama to lead us to a clean energy future.
In making this plea for leadership, Redford joins many others begging him for leadership, including CP:
- Is Obama blowing his best chance to shift the debate from the dirty, unsafe energy of the 19th century to the clean, safe energy of the 21st century?
- Tim Wirth: “The president should deliver a major speech on climate change to the American public, using all the props and charts he can muster to bring the message home. The public interest requires it.”
- Obama’s campaign pollster: “In the aftermath of the oil spill disaster, voters overwhelmingly support a comprehensive clean energy bill”¦. Voters understand the dangers of our dependence on oil. Now, they’re ready to hold Congress accountable.”
NYT columnist Tom Friedman has another column on the subject:
No, the gulf oil spill is not Obama’s Katrina. It’s his 9/11 “” and it is disappointing to see him making the same mistake George W. Bush made with his 9/11. Sept. 11, 2001, was one of those rare seismic events that create the possibility to energize the country to do something really important and lasting that is too hard to do in normal times.
Sadly, President Obama seems intent on squandering his environmental 9/11 with a Bush-level failure of imagination. So far, the Obama policy is: “Think small and carry a big stick.” He is rightly hammering the oil company executives. But he is offering no big strategy to end our oil addiction. Senators John Kerry and Joe Lieberman have unveiled their new energy bill, which the president has endorsed but only in a very tepid way. Why tepid? Because Kerry-Lieberman embraces vitally important fees on carbon emissions that the White House is afraid will be exploited by Republicans in the midterm elections. The G.O.P., they fear, will scream carbon “tax” at every Democrat who would support this bill, and Obama, having already asked Democrats to make a hard vote on health care, feels he can’t ask them for another.
I don’t buy it. In the wake of this historic oil spill, the right policy “” a bill to help end our addiction to oil “” is also the right politics. The people are ahead of their politicians. So is the U.S. military. There are many conservatives who would embrace a carbon tax or gasoline tax if it was offset by a cut in payroll taxes or corporate taxes, so we could foster new jobs and clean air at the same time. If Republicans label Democrats “gas taxers” then Democrats should label them “Conservatives for OPEC” or “Friends of BP.” Shill, baby, shill.
Why is Obama playing defense? Just how much oil has to spill into the gulf, how much wildlife has to die, how many radical mosques need to be built with our gasoline purchases to produce more Times Square bombers, before it becomes politically “safe” for the president to say he is going to end our oil addiction? Indeed, where is “The Obama End to Oil Addiction Act”? Why does everything have to emerge from the House and Senate? What does he want? What is his vision? What are his redlines? I don’t know. But I do know that without a fixed, long-term price on carbon, none of the president’s important investments in clean power research and development will ever scale.
Obama has assembled a great team that could help him make his case “” John Holdren, science adviser; Carol Browner, energy adviser; Energy Secretary Steven Chu, a Nobel Prize winner; and Lisa Jackson, chief of the Environmental Protection Agency. But they have been badly underutilized by the White House. I know endangered species that are seen by the public more often than them….
We know the problem, and Americans are ready to be enlisted for a solution. Of course we can’t eliminate oil exploration or dependence overnight, but can we finally start? Mr. President, your advisers are wrong: Americans are craving your leadership on this issue. Are you going to channel their good will into something that strengthens our country “” “The Obama End to Oil Addiction Act” “” or are you going squander your 9/11, too?
When you are criticized by both Robert Redford and Tom Friedman for failure to lead on the same issue, you are definitely screwing up.
Here is Redford on Countdown: