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Posted on Saturday, November 03, 2001 - 06:15 am:   

Robert Redford wrote:

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

http://www.savebiogems.org/arctic/index.asp?src 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 on.

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 http://www.savebiogems.org/arctic/index.asp?src

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


BioGems: Saving Endangered Wild Places A project of the Natural Resources Defense Council http://www.savebiogems.org
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Posted on Friday, November 22, 2002 - 07:01 pm:   

Dear MoveOn member,

Congratulations. Our hard work has helped prevent the Cheney energy
plan from passing in the U.S. Congress, for now. Congress' adjournment
without completing the bill means we've won this round.

Next year, Congress must start from scratch to create a new bill. With
your help, this next bill will be one that encourages renewable energy
and protects our environment. If not, we'll stop the next one too.

Today, it's important that we celebrate this victory. Next time
you're outside, take a moment to savor it. There will be no oil
drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge this year.

While many environmental groups played roles in this victory, MoveOn
members made a terrific contribution. More than 20,000 of us made
phone calls; nearly a thousand of us sent letters to the editors of our
newspapers. More than 35,000 of us signed the "Stop Cheney" petition,
sending electronic messages to our Senators and Representatives calling
for preservation of our environment and development of an energy policy
based on energy efficiency, renewable sources, and conservation.

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle deserves our thanks for holding the
line against a relentless, two-year drive by the White House.

But Daschle's principled resistance would not have been possible
without our outpouring of grassroots support. Thanks to all of us, our
children may yet have a chance to enjoy the environment we love.

This is your victory.


- Peter Schurman
Executive Director
November 22nd, 2002
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Posted on Saturday, January 04, 2003 - 05:46 pm:   

If you have seen me lately, you've undoubtedly been dragged outside to see my newest technology-toy - A five-passenger, 2002 Toyota Prius gas & electric hybrid automobile. It never needs to be plugged in, I'm saving the planet, and it works GREAT! I belong to a huge online club for fellow enthusiast owners (the majority of whom are Mac users), and we spend an awful lot of time feeling smugly superior and sharing tips. There are 130,000 of these cars on the road worldwide, and you've seen a lot of them around San Diego, but never noticed them, because they're just typical-looking small sedans.

In brief:

A round-trip four-day weekend to Palm Springs from San Diego for three big, corn-fed men with all of our luggage, driving around all four days and coming back, cost me exactly thirteen dollars in gas. I've owned the car for two months, and I've put gas in it five times, usually paying about ten bucks each time. For the first 35,000 miles, I pay only for gas, and that includes free Toyota roadside assistance. The car's electric portion has an eight-year warranty! In terms of safety, the car sacrifices itself to save the occupants. I know of six major, major accidents involving the Prius, and the worst thing that happened to one person was a broken leg.

I get twice the gas mileage of a Harley motorcycle, put out one percent of the Harley's exhaust pollution, and can cruise at 85 MPH all day until I need to refuel at around 550 miles (with an eleven-gallon tank). It's a Super Low Emissions Vehicle (SULEV), and if I were to drive it in Los Angeles on a really bad, smoggy day, the exhaust would actually be cleaner than the surrounding air! If somebody were to seal themselves into a closed garage with a running Prius to attempt suicide, it would take over 2-1/2 days!

I was demonstrating the car to a client yesterday and chirped the tires when I accelerated, because electric motors have a lot of torque. During normal city driving, I can cruise along in dead-silent, all-electric "stealth" mode without ever (automatically) firing up the gas engine except when I need some extra power. You just get in and drive, and the car's four computers handle everything automatically. When I'm in bumper-to-bumper traffic, I burn zero gas and emit zero emissions as I breathe filtered, air-conditioned air, and listen to the superb stereo. Other vehicles seem strange to me now - So noisy, smelly and wasteful.

As I said earlier, you never need to plug it in, and couldn't if you tried. The car automatically snags leftover energy that is normally thrown away while you stop, and the motor acts as a generator during freeway driving.

You can pick up a nicely-equipped Prius like mine for around $18,000 (though you have to pick it up in LA for that price). Our car has nearly every option (four air-bags, cruise control, traction control, climate control and so forth) except for the DVD Navigation system, which I didn't see much point in paying for. We get to claim a $2,000 "Clean Fuel" federal tax deduction this year: and we might just get our $1,800 California sales-tax back if California follows the example of New York State - Now that Democrats run everything here, it might happen soon.

What would I change? I want a telescopic steering-wheel (it already tilts), a way to tilt the front of the seat for my long legs, and an arm-rest that I would not have had to order online... the car was designed for Tokyo traffic and parking, so you can fold the mirrors, park RIGHT up against the other car, slide to the other side and get out. I'd rather have an armrest, so I bought a nice one! There is honestly nothing else I would complain about.

How does this relate to Macs? We Mac users are willing to use something that's demonstrably superior, even if it's a bit unusual, and this car is odd - It's QUIET, smooth, and the instrument-panel is in the middle of the dash, where it can be seen quicker and clearer than through the steering-wheel. The dash includes a great big color screen to give you instant, positive feedback when you're driving economically. I use the screen like a video game - I chortle with glee when I get around 60-75 MPG on my way home from Chula Vista. I got over 100 MPG on the last forty minutes of my two trips to Palm Springs!

As you already know, I'm six foot five and 250 pounds, and I fit into this car just fine - It has the same front legroom and height as a Camry (with lots of back-seat legroom), but it's a sub-compact on the outside, with an astonishingly small turning-radius. The battery is only the size of six loaves of bread, so the trunk is quite large. Being a Toyota, it's ridiculously dependable - the Prius is at the very top of the JD Powers and Associates list for dependability among cars of its size.

Can you tell that I'm happy? I'm in good company, too - The big names out there are way out in front on this topic:

Alexandra Paul (actress)
Arianna Huffington
Arie Emanuel (Hollywood "superagent")
Bill Maher
Billy Joel
Cameron Diaz
Carole King
City of Austin, Texas (for use by Mayor and city officials)
Congressman Brian Baird (WA)
Congressman Darrell Issa (CA)
Congressman Roscoe Bartlett (MD)
Congresswoman Connie Morella (MD)
David Duchovny
David Hyde Pierce
Dennis Weaver
Donna Mills (actress)
Donny Osmond
Ed Begley Jr. (last I heard it was his wife's car - he drives a Rav4 EV...)
Fred Krupp (Executive Director for Environmental Defense)
Harrison Ford
Howard Ris (Executive Director for Union of Concerned Scientists)
Jackson Browne
Jane Fonda
Jeff Goldblum
Larry David (2 vehicles)
Leonardo DiCaprio (2 vehicles, plus four for his family)
Lindsay Wagner
Meryl Streep
Olivia Newton-John
One of "The Indigo Girls"...can't remember the name....
Patricia Arquette
Rob Glaser (CEO of Real Networks)
Rob Reiner
Robert L. Sills (Chairman of American Lung Association, Los Angeles County)
Robert Schults (President & CEO of Shaklee Corporation)
several Mayors and other city officials in different counties...
Stephen Collins
Ted Danson
Warren Leon (NESEA)
Woody Harrelson

The following article says it all pretty well, so the next time you see me, come on out for a ride - Toyota is announcing the first hybrid SUV in early January (probably a Highlander), so you'll get your chance if a small car isn't your style. They're also expected to announce the third generation Prius as well. If you want to BUY one of these little charmers, talk to me - I don't sell them or get kickbacks, but I sure know a lot about them - Let's save the planet!
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Posted on Saturday, January 04, 2003 - 05:53 pm:   


Subject: New York Times Prius/hybrid article

Some see Prius as the 'anti-SUV' Gas-electric hybrid wins pockets of fans in Hollywood and elsewhere. Danny Hakim - New York Times Friday, December 27, 2002

The latest car-as-statement is an unornamented Japanese subcompact whose drivers want to poke a finger in the eye of Saddam Hussein, oil sheiks and neighbors who jump into gas-guzzling sport-utility vehicles for drives to the grocery store.

The car, the Toyota Prius, is one of three vehicles in a small but soon-to-grow category of vehicles known as hybrids. By running on a combination of gas and electric power, they get as much as double the mileage of conventional cars. The Prius has attracted a bipartisan coterie of customers who say they consider it the anti-SUV, a car that makes both a political and environmental statement without demanding too many trade-offs.

Prius owners include Hollywood celebrities who wear their environmentalist sentiments on their sleeves --- actors like Cameron Diaz, Leonardo DiCaprio and Ted Danson. More surprisingly, the car is being bought by Republican county sheriffs and bank executives intent on doing their part, as war drums beat in the Mideast, to reduce American oil imports.

''This is a technology that will take us out of our dependence on foreign oil,'' said Wyatt Earp, who besides being a descendant of the Wyatt Earp is a fleet manager for the sheriff's office in Marion County, Fla. Earp, who at work drives a Prius embossed with the words ''Homeland Security Vehicle,'' recently bought four for the department.

Diaz's latest Prius is snazzier, with a custom black paint job and leather seats. ''I wanted to do my part,'' said the actress, who bought her first Prius a couple of months after Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Driving with a heavy foot in Los Angeles traffic, she said she got about 18 miles per gallon in her old Mercedes. But, she said, ''I can milk 40 to 45 out of the Prius, if I'm driving like a good girl.''

Toyota began selling the Prius in the United States in limited numbers two years ago, and about 37,000 are now on the road here. Worldwide, the company hopes to sell 300,000 hybrids annually within five years. It is expected to announce at least one new hybrid model at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit next month.

Detroit tiptoes in

Toyota's production plan means ''this is going to go from being an environmental curiosity to a commercially important product,'' said John Casesa, an analyst at Merrill Lynch.

Not everyone is convinced. For a long time, executives at General Motors believed that adding an electric motor to every car was unduly expensive and would divert resources from what they consider more viable new technologies, including vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

However, the automaker reportedly intends to announce in January that it will add hybrid powerplants to several of its models.

Others in Detroit, though, are tiptoeing into the business.

DaimlerChrysler said last month that it would start selling a hybrid version of its Dodge Ram pickup truck next year, and Ford Motor Co. plans to sell a hybrid version of its Escape sport-utility beginning late next year.

The Prius has an electric motor that takes over for the internal combustion engine at low speeds and when the car stops. Because the electric motor is charged by the gas engine, the car never needs to be plugged in. The gas engine kicks in at 15 mph to 20 mph, so the Prius usually gets its best mileage in city driving, unlike conventional cars.

Drivers say the silence of the electric motor can be disconcerting at first.

''When you're sitting at a light, you're thinking, 'Did my car just die?' '' Diaz said. ''You have to be careful going down alleyways, because people don't hear you coming.''

James Press, the executive vice president of Toyota Motor Sales USA, said the Prius is slightly profitable already --- not counting an undisclosed amount in research-and-development costs.

''When you have that kind of volume to spread the investment over, and anticipated improvement in economies of scale, and improvement of efficiencies of production and design, these vehicles should be as profitable as anything else that we sell,'' Press said.

The Prius is not cheap. Prices start at $20,500, some $4,500 more than a similarly sized Toyota Corolla, though buyers qualify for a $2,000 tax deduction intended to spur sales of fuel-efficient vehicles.

Until recently, the Prius was the only four-door hybrid sold in the United States, but Honda --- which has sold its two-door Insight since 1999 --- recently began offering a hybrid Civic, starting at $19,550.

Endorsed by nuns

Politicians who drive Priuses include Rep. Connie Morella (R-Md.), who lost her re-election campaign last month, and Sen. Robert Bennett (R-Utah). New York has bought more than 200 Priuses for its buildings and parks departments, among other city agencies.

The Sisters Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, a community of nuns based in Monroe, Mich., about 35 miles south of Detroit, has bought several of the hybrids. Recently, the nuns used them to ferry religious leaders who came to lobby the Big Three for improvements in fuel efficiency.

''The gospel today requires that we respond to the needs of Earth,'' Sister Nancy Cathcart explained.

Robert Goldberg, the president of Cleveland-based Ohio Savings Bank, has bought five Priuses so far, and Goldberg said he plans to convert the company's whole fleet of a few dozen cars to hybrids.

''It's a fight against terrorism,'' Goldberg said. ''If the United States was not so dependent on oil in the Middle East, we wouldn't have the problem we do.''

Goldberg used to drive an Audi A6 himself and said that his gas bill has fallen from nearly $30 every week to $15 every two weeks since he bought a Prius for himself.

Ariel Emanuel, a Hollywood talent agent whose brother, Rahm, was elected to Congress last month as a Democrat from Chicago, traded in his Ferrari for a Prius. His gas bills of $250 a month have fallen to about $30.

''Every time I get into it, I feel like I'm demonstrating my point of view on national security,'' Emanuel said. ''Fifteen of the 19 terrorists came from Saudi Arabia. I refuse to give them more money.''

Stephen Collins, one of the stars of the WB network's drama ''Seventh Heaven,'' said he bought his Prius at the recommendation of the actor Ed Begley Jr., an environmental activist who also appears on the program.

''It was a personal political reaction to Sept. 11,'' Collins said.

''It's my personal fantasy that we could turn around to a country like Saudi Arabia and say, 'We love you guys, but we don't need your oil. Knock yourselves out, but we don't need it.' And it wouldn't be that hard to do.''
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Posted on Saturday, February 08, 2003 - 06:30 am:   

I'd like to share a dream/vision that I had about our earth's future. Although I was sleeping, I feel that the message I received was very real and quite visionary. I was interviewing a being from our (the earth's) future. The being was a female child, very human-like, yet obviously very intelligent. She was leaning on her side, naked, on a huge rock formation. She had long, straight greyish/black hair that hung down from her head, covering the front of her torso. She was rather thin, and her greyish eyes were glossed over with a bit of a stare. In her hand she held a blue-green sponge-like handful of something that she ate as though it were an apple. I asked her what it was and she stoicly replied "DEEP EARTH PENETRATION FOOD SOURCE." The people in her time (our future) had been reduced to scavenging for food, there was none left on the face of the earth because the earth had been scorched through wars and misuse of the environment. The people of earth were reduced to drilling the earth for food! This was my vision, but can't you see how this could very well become reality?

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