Robert Redford, a guest on the latest edition of Variety‘s PopPolitics on SiriusXM, says that the Republican drive to pass a bill greenlighting the Keystone pipeline “makes no sense,” attributing the GOP majority’s prioritization of the project to the influence of the oil lobby and too many lawmakers “living in the 1950s.”
He also singled out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
“Somebody has got to start looking at the bigger picture here and telling what the real truth is, so you don’t have people like Mitch McConnell giving you truth that is falsified,” Redford said in an interview. “He represents the polluters’ interest because he is living in the 1950s. So for me we are missing real leadership. Instead we have a guy who looks like he just slid out from under a rock trying to propose an idea that is simply not that truthful. Somebody has to get to the truth of what this is all about.”
Redford, whose environmental activism extends back to the 1950s, has been particularly vocal about the Keystone pipeline, which would ship oil extracted from the tar sands in Canada through the Midwest to the Gulf coast.
President Barack Obama has threatened to veto a bill from Congress that would greenlight the pipeline, which many environmental groups oppose, warning of the dangers of transporting the oil, as well as the message it sends on efforts to wean the country off of fossil fuels. Redford is a trustee of the Natural Resources Defense Council and appeared in one of their recent videos on the “big polluter agenda” of Congress when it comes to energy and the environment.
“When you look at the economic viability of [Keystone], which is we are putting our environment at risk to ship dirty oil, the benefits would go to another country because it is all going to be exported. It makes no sense,” says Redford, who thinks that Keystone would be transporting “the dirtiest oil on the planet that can’t be cleaned up.”
Although some recent polls have shown that a majority of the public support Keystone, Redford attributes that to confusion over what the project is, citing partisanship in the media that has made it difficult to get a full picture. “What are we going to develop for our future, but also what are we going to preserve for our future? If you got one without the other, you got a short lifespan,” he says.
The Obama years have seen a vast expansion of drilling in the U.S., and there are still doubts as to whether the president will veto the legislation. Redford ties that to Obama’s lifelong desire to seek the center, but he thinks the president has learned to take a bolder approach to climate change in the face of Republican opposition.
Redford says he has hopes for a shift in congressional leadership as more grassroots organizations, as well as local and state governments, take action on climate change. He also sees a greater market for documentaries as a “new form of longform journalism — what we don’t need are soundbites.”
Dan Schnur, executive director of the Jesse Unruh Institute at USC, says that the race for Barbara Boxer’s Senate seat in California could mean a candidate will wage a $100 million campaign. He also talks about one name being bandied about as a possible star contender: Maria Shriver.
On The Mix, U.S. News’ Nikki Schwab and Deadline’s Dominic Patten talk about the controversy over the all-white list of Oscar acting nominees, and whether snubbing “Selma” in some of the major categories may end up helping it in the race for best picture.
Variety’s “PopPolitics,” hosted by Ted Johnson, airs Thursdays at 11 a.m. PT on SiriusXM’s POTUS Channel 124. It also is available on demand.