Robert Redford is lending his star power to an initiative called Kick the Oil Habit which takes it cue from President Bush's 2006 confession that the US has an Oil Addiction. The site promotes alternative energy.
The site promotes the use of E85, windpower and other alternative fuels. NOTE, the site fails to mention that biodeisel and E85 have the negative effects of making our fuel supply compete directly with our food supply. A massive switch to bio fuels will probably result in mass starvations. Wind Power litters the environment with windmills that our children are likely to find are costly to maintain. Solar Cells run the risk of covering large sections of land with rather toxic pieces of litter.
This is all worth pursuing and promoting. There is no perfect energy source (The bicycle gets close, but it is hard to ride a bike during a snow storm).
Robert Redford appeared on Larry King last night. I think it would be great to have Redford taking a leading role in promoting alternative fuels. Unfortunately, instead of promoting fuel, he kept falling into partisan attacks. Here are a few quotes:
"the planet has already been trashed enough, particularly with the policies of this administration. Excuse me but it's a fact."
I agree that Bush has been a horrible president (especially in regards to energy). This is an opinion, however, and not a fact. The real problem here is that Redford leads directly off Bush's admitting that his policies were wrong into a partisan attack. I don't think that making that making energy policy more partisan will end up making sound energy policy.
Several times in the interview attacked Bush for secretly setting policy objectives behind the scene without public input. That is fair criticism. However, Robert Redford has been playing the exact same game for decades. The Sundance Summit is a case in point. In this and other initiatives, Redford would have closed meetings with town mayors (hypnotized by star power). In the closed meetings, Redford would set objectives for the town ... completely skirting the step of pulic input on important local projects.
My guess is that, in progressive fashion, Redford defines himself as "the public". Therefore public input is achieved when a movie star has a closed door session with politicians to set political agendas for a town. Yeah. Right!
I started writing this blog post hoping to praise the Kick the Habit site. Unfortunately, both the web site and the Kick the Oil Habit site are vacuous political hack jobs. The site was designed by The American Progressive Action Committee. The effort seems aimed primarily at making the development of alternative fuels more politically charged than it already is.
All of these alternative fuel sources have problems. They should all be developed, but there is no free lunch.
Kick the Oil Habit puts forward E85 as the free lunch (E85 is 85% ethanol and 15% oil). Yes, the fuel should be developed. However, this product will put fuel consumption in direct competition with food. It will increase demands on farmland, etc.. Corn is a good source for fuel, but it is not perfect.
In the end I have to pan Redford's initiative. Kick The Oil Habit appears to be more about creating partisan division than in working on the most difficult problem faced by our generation.
If you want real information on alternative fuels, the National Renewal Energy Laborator (NREL) is a better source.