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AN INTERVIEW WITH ROBERT REDFORD ABOUT OUR ENERGY FUTURE to double our renew­ables in the next few years. The president talks about an “all of the above” energy policy. But what about an “all of the above” climate change policy? I think we need to be doing everything we can to get away from dirty energy. The most important thing is, we can’t let fossil fuel companies take us backward. In addition to his singular achievements Q: Speaking of taking us backward, what are your thoughts on the has become, without question, America’s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline? best-known and most widely respected A: When I saw raw tar sands oil coursing environmentalist. A Trustee of NRDC through people’s yards in Arkansas, for nearly 40 years, he has led the fight it made me sick. What will happen against drilling on public lands, alerted to other farms, families and wildlands across our country if we support millions to the dangers of climate change and championed clean energy permits for pipelines like the Keystone XL? How many red flags do we need technologies — like those showcased before we realize that the solution is in NRDC’s Santa Monica office, which to stop tar sands expansion and say no bears his name. We caught up with to tar sands pipelines? I think we’ve Redford just before the release of his seen enough. Look, if we’re going to latest film, The Company You Keep. fight climate change, we have to be able to say no to dirty energy projects. Q: You have been a critic of America’s Our friends around the world are short­sighted energy policy for a looking to us for climate leader­ship, long time. Do you think we’ve been and it starts with drawing the line at doing any better in recent years? tar sands expansion. We’ve got better A: I think we’re at the beginning of an energy choices. energy transition in America. We’ve Q: In his first term, President learned the hard way what dirty fuels Obama pushed through a deal can do to our environment, to our with the Big Three carmakers that health and to those special places we nearly doubled mileage standards. love. But we’ve also learned what’s How did he accomplish that, and possible with clean power and energy efficiency. That’s where we’re generating why does it matter? new jobs. We’re seeing that all across A: I mean, let’s be frank: The U.S. the country: at wind turbine manufact­ auto industry almost drove itself off a urers in Ohio, hybrid car factories cliff with its gas-guzzler business plan. in Michigan, biofuel companies in President Obama saved that industry California. So I think America is once from itself. That’s the way I see it. They gave him a lot of leverage, and again moving in the right direction toward a clean energy future. But I just he used it to help push through probably think we need to move faster. We need the biggest increase in fuel efficiency Robert Redford © Lisa Whiteman; Wind farm, Wyoming © Dave Showalter; Tar sands © Eamon MacMahon/Greenpeace; seals © Lisa & Mike Husar/; fracking © Sharon Wilson over a lifetime in film, Robert 4 Redford standards we’ve seen in decades. Under that agreement, new cars and light trucks will have to average nearly 55 miles per gallon by 2025. That’s almost twice the mileage required today, which is probably the single biggest step the U.S. has ever taken to cut the carbon pollution that causes climate change. Well, now the auto industry is more competitive. Car companies are pushing the high-tech enve­lope to make vehicles that go much farther on a gallon of gas. And I think some of these are the most exciting cars we’ve seen from the U.S. auto­makers in decades. And the efficiency is finally getting the attention of American consumers. Q: What can President Obama do in his second term to make more progress? A: He’s got to go after industrial carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants. These plants are the biggest source of carbon pollution and probably the biggest cause of global warm­ing. And the EPA has already proposed rules to limit carbon from new power plants. But now I think we’ve got to make sure Congress doesn’t kill those standards. And after that, I think President Obama needs to go after carbon pollution from existing power plants. NRDC has put forth a plan to take aging, dirty coal plants off-line and make up for the energy they produce through efficiency

Nature's Voice Summer 2013

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