There is nothing patriotic about handing over our natural heritage to the oil industry. But that’s exactly what the White House wants to do in the name of national security.

I’m asking you to join me in opposing the senseless destruction of our environment by going to and signing the Declaration of Energy Independence. The declaration calls on our government to pursue a sustainable energy future that will preserve – not destroy – our last, unspoiled wildlands.

We have little time to lose. With the nation’s attention focused almost exclusively on the war against terrorism, the Bush administration has moved quietly but aggressively in recent months to open up fragile wildlands to giant energy corporations.

In Utah, they were in such a hurry to lease millions of acres of our redrock canyonlands for oil and gas development that they skipped the environmental review that is required by law. My colleagues here at National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) have already gone to federal court to block this illegal giveaway of redrock country.

But that’s only the beginning. The Bush-Cheney energy plan – hatched in closed-door meetings last year with Enron and other energy giants – would pave the way for oil and gas companies to despoil an alarming number of our last wild places: the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem, Wyoming’s Red Desert, and many, many more.

President Bush says we need the oil to become more energy independent. Don’t buy it! Using the tragic events of Sept. 11 as an opportunity to advance the special interests of the oil industry will not enhance America’s energy security. Our nation simply doesn’t have enough oil to drill our way to self-sufficiency.

If we really want to declare energy independence, then the only answer is to dramatically reduce our appetite for oil. For starters, we could increase the fuel efficiency of our cars and light trucks to 40 miles per gallon. That would save nearly two million barrels of oil a day by the year 2012 – more than all the oil we imported last year from Saudi Arabia.

The Declaration of Energy Independence sets forth plenty of other ways to slash our dependence on oil. It proves that fighting terrorism does NOT require the destruction of our own natural heritage.

Please do your part by visiting and signing the Declaration of Energy Independence. It will take you less than a minute. Then please forward this message to your family and friends.

If millions of us sign the declaration, then the White House and Congress will be unable to ignore its message.

And thank you for helping to save America’s last wild places.

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. , Senior Attorney, Natural Resources Defense Council