Former U.S. official urges road-free approach to Amazon
Bruce Babbitt first set foot in the Amazon in 1961, when he visited Bolivia’s Beni region as a graduate student studying plate tectonics. He has made many return trips—for instance, as a Harvard University law student and, later, as Secretary of the Interior under U.S. President Bill Clinton, a post he held from 1993 to 2001. With a bachelor’s degree in geology from the University of Notre Dame and a master’s in geophysics from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in England, Babbitt takes a scientist’s view of energy projects in the region. His policy experience has led him to draw parallels between Brazil’s quest for energy resources in Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia and the U.S.’s westward expansion in the 19th century. A fellow with the Blue Moon Fund, a Virginia philanthropic organization focusing on high-biodiversity regions of the world, Babbitt is researching Amazon infrastructure development and best practices for companies active in the region. EcoAméricas correspondent Barbara Fraser spoke with him recently in Washington, D.C.