Opportunities this Earth Day

WASHINGTON (April 20, 2006) -- President Bush was right when he observed earlier this year that "America is addicted to oil." On April 22, our 36th Earth Day, all Americans can join in helping to end that addiction, which causes global warming, pollutes our environment, saps our economic competitiveness and even threatens our national security.

Fortunately, America does not need a complicated, multi-stepped program to end our dependence, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Some simple steps can do the job. These include embracing existing technologies that will cut our oil consumption and reduce heat-trapping pollution responsible for global warming, such as driving hybrid cars and using clean-burning fuels derived from plants grown by farmers in America's heartlands.

"Oil dependency is at the heart of our biggest challenges today: security, economic, environmental," said Frances Beinecke, president of NRDC. "The good news is that opportunities to fix the problems have never been more abundant or more readily available. Cleaner, more efficient technologies in our cars and trucks, in our homes and in our workplaces have the power to stop the oil addiction in its tracks."

Aggressive actions now to foster the development of such biofuels would position America by 2050 to produce more than three times the amount of oil we now import from the volatile Persian Gulf. And if combined with stronger fuel-economy performance standards and smart-growth policies, biofuels like switchgrass, woodchips and cornstalks could help virtually erase our demand for gasoline by mid-century.

And that would put us squarely on the road to reversing global warming -- a critical need that more and more of our leaders are recognizing, from business executives and members of the clergy to governors and mayors. Officials in Washington should break their deadlock and join the campaign.

One hopeful sign of progress is the bipartisan legislation that is quickly gaining momentum in Congress that would save 2.5 million barrels of oil a day within a decade, grant incentives to the automobile industry to produce more efficient vehicles and set new performance standards for tires and heavy-duty trucks.

"Anyone who wants to help end America's oil addiction can do even more on Earth Day -- without leaving their homes," Beinecke said.

They can help generate momentum for action on global warming by joining in a virtual march to stop global warming, by logging on to www.stopglobalwarming.org. And they can sponsor house parties to watch the premier of "Too Hot Not to Handle,'' HBO's documentary that will air at 7 p.m. on Earth Day.