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Robert Redford Praises Rejection of Keystone: We Can’t Afford To Be at the Mercy of Big Oil

Amy Goodman
Democracy Now! / Video Interview
Published: Tuesday 24 January 2012
We spoke with Robert Redford, who is an activist and is the founder of Sundance, about President Obama’s decision last week to reject the proposal for the Keystone XL tars sands oil pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.

We’re broadcasting from Park City, Utah, home of the Sundance Film Festival, the nation’s largest festival for independent cinema. Over the weekend, we spoke with Robert Redford, the founder of Sundance. He’s well known as an actor, a director, a producer, but part and parcel of who he is an activist. We asked him about President Obama’s decision last week to reject the proposal for the Keystone XL tars sands oil pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. "Oil, coal and gas still dominate, in terms of control, because of their relationship with members of Congress they give a lot of money to," Redford said. "But because times have changed so drastically, and I don’t think we can be at the mercy of what Big Oil wants to do anymore.

Rush Transcript: 

AMY GOODMAN: We’re at Park City Television in Park City, Utah, home of the Sundance Film Festival, the largest festival of independent cinema in this country. Over the weekend, I spoke with Robert Redford. He is the founder of Sundance Film Festival, well known as an actor, an Academy Award-winning director, and a producer. We sat down in the opening days of the film festival to talk about politics and his life. Over these next few days, we’ll play excerpts of that interview.

Today we’re going to begin with a conversation around President Obama’s decision to reject the Keystone XL pipeline that would go from Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico. Robert Redford has weighed in on this, written columns, posted podcasts about it, a well-known environmentalist. He talked about the significance of this decision.

ROBERT REDFORD: I think it’s important because it ties to a number of crucial things. One is what kind of information gets to the American public that’s really the truth, that’s going to relate to what happens to their environment, which has already been so degraded over the years that we—there’s less and less planet to live on. And if anybody is thinking about their children or the children to come beyond that, then they should start thinking about what they’re going to provide for them to live on. And it’s the greed and the corporate control of profit, which was fine up to a point during the Industrial Revolution—I mean, that was great, helped this country grow strong and so forth—but you have to look at the other side of it now, and it’s kind of grim.

So this—this, to me, was an example of one of the big interests that I think has a lot of control over the country, certainly politically, which is Big Oil. Oil, coal and gas still dominate, in terms of control, because of their relationship with members of Congress they give a lot of money to, the jobs they claim they create, and so forth. But because times have changed so drastically, and I don’t think we can afford to be at the mercy of what Big Oil wants to do anymore, it’s a question of, "OK, you’ve had your thing." Now, if you just want to look at a real simple equation, which is what got me involved in the environment in the first place, it’s really simple. You have non-renewable energy sources, and you have renewable energy sources. And when I saw a map in the late '60s about that, I thought, "Wait a minute, all of our energy is going to non-renewable energy sources. Why are we not considering that it's non-renewable for a reason? It’s going to go out someday. And it’s polluting our environment. It’s creating health hazards and so forth. Why would we not be switching to renewable?" And that’s when I realized how politics plays its role in it. So, from that time on, I’ve been pretty active in trying to have a hard look at the environment and human rights. But those are the two areas that I’ve been focusing on.

So, right now, here’s this glaring example of what’s wrong. And that is, if you look at the facts, it’s a terrible situation—if the facts can get out there. But the facts are so busy being distorted, exaggerated, or just lied about by the other side, who has a more commanding presence on the airwaves and so forth, you’ve got a serious situation. And so, my effort to come out is, please look at the facts. Don’t look at—when you have people like Mitch McConnell, you have people like Boehner, Gingrich, who’s his own—he’s a whole other issue—but when they exaggerate the truth, or fabricate it, or just out-and-out lie about the actual facts, then you’ve got to step up and say, "Wait a second. That’s not the truth." So, what is the truth? And there is a lot of untruth being propagated by these people about this pipeline, 1,200 miles of crude oil, which is the dirtiest oil on the planet, being shipped from Canada, that wants to get to the ocean, to Houston. And for what? It’s not going to put any—it’s not going to put any gas in your tank. It’s oil that’s going to be exported to other countries. So, what is the point? In the meantime, it’s going to run through the heartland of America. And don’t tell me there won’t be any leaks. Of course there will be leaks, because we’ve seen it all over the map in recent months, years. So I just figure, OK, the American people will decide.

AMY GOODMAN: Actor Robert Redford. We will play excerpts of this interview throughout the week.

Author pic
ABOUT Amy Goodman

Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now!," a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 900 stations in North America. She is the author of "Breaking the Sound Barrier," recently released in paperback and now a New York Times best-seller.

The Keystone XL pipeline is a

The Keystone XL pipeline is a huge undertaking that spans almost two thousand miles. every time it crosses a river or lake or any other natural barrier, it takes massive amounts of engineering resourses to accompliosh the crossing. The will manypumping astaitons built and the safety control systems will need to be extremely complex abnd comprehensive, andf , yes, they will occassionally failure as all systems do.

From a statistical analysis standpoint, there is an almsot certainty that there will be significant failures. Even Trans Canada has admitted to this. and estimates there will be a failure once every seven years. The problem with this calculation is that there current pipeline has faikled on 12 seprerate occasssions the last year alone. the current Canadian government has stopped approvals any any new Canadian pipelines for over a year. They even applied for a waiver to use thinner steel for this pipeline than normally required.

The biggest lie out there is the number of jobs created. The most current estimate by the US State Department is 6,000 TEMPORARY jobs and fewer permanent jobs than that nukber. Many of them will NOT be newly created jobs for US workers.

The oil carried by this pipeline has a very high sulfur content that very few refineries can crack into useable products. There will be very little if any gasoline coming from these refineries that will show up an American gas pump. Ther probably will large amounts of diesel fuel produced an dmuch of that will be exported. It certainly won't be reducing fuel costs in the US.

Only the oil comp[anies will benefit form this pipeline. The state crossed will see some new revenues to their treasuries, bu tthey likely will have to fund any cleanup problems when the eventual failures do occur.

The 1973 OPEC Oil Embargo was

The 1973 OPEC Oil Embargo was the time the world should have made a concerted effort to embrace renewable energy and concentrated on switching to solar and wind power and electric cars, but Big Oil would have no part of that.

March 28, 1979 (Three Mile Island accident) is when the country and the world should have decided that the only nuclear reactor we need is 93,000,000 miles away (and still dangerous).
Chernobyl and now Fukushima have reiterated that point.

There is a glaring leadership and integrity crisis in the world.

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