Randy Udall, whose list of contributions to environmental and energy issues runs long, died recently of apparent natural causes after being reported missing on a solo backpack excursion in the Wind River Range of the Wyoming Rockies.
Mourning the loss is a family known for its activism and championing of the environment. Udall was the second of six children of Morris “Mo” Udall, who served three decades in Congress. Older brother Mark, who represents Colorado in the U.S. Senate, is a strong wind energy supporter and last year showed that unwavering support by—starting in June and continuing through the year—making daily speeches on the Senate floor calling for an extension of the production tax credit. Cousin Tom Udall is a New Mexico senator, and Uncle Stewart Udall served as Interior secretary in the 1960s.
In spite of that pedigree, Randy’s calling was, in multiple ways, closer to the environment. He left his mark outside of Washington, D.C., and politics—and he did so in a substantial way. Udall was a founder of the nonprofit Community Office for Resource Energy Efficiency, which promotes the use of renewable energy in western Colorado. An energy analyst and expert, he also cofounded the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas, providing key input as an interviewee of the National Petroleum Council for that organization’s 2007 report, “Hard Truths about Energy.” Udall also edited the newsletter of the Rocky Mountain Institute, the influential and respected organization cofounded by Amory and Hunter Lovins.
Yet, said those who knew him, it’s his spirit that has left the most meaningful mark. As the Udall family noted in a statement, Randy “left this earth doing what he loves best”—that is, embracing the natural environment that he championed every day of his life.
“The entire Udall family is touched beyond words by the tremendous outpouring of support from people around the country,” the family stated. “Randy’s passing is a reminder to all of us to live every day to its fullest, just as he did.”
Part of that spirit was to be one who brings people together and unites—something that’s strongly needed these days, many would agree. Said friend Auden Schendler, who reflected on Udall’s passing in this blog post: “Randy understood that cheap coal and petroleum brought Americans the prosperity we enjoy today, and our solutions must not ignore that debt, and must not sweep the miners and the geologists and the utilities under the carpet. For this, Randy was beloved by coal miners and gas explorers, conservative utility CEOs and environmentalists alike.”
Photo: Fremont Peak, Wind River Range–David L. Gaskill, U.S. Geological Survey