Robert Redford’s Alarmist and Hypocritical Campaign

Big green radical Robert Redford is out with a new website demanding clean power now. On behalf of the NRDC, where Redford sits on the board, it petitions President Obama to ban Keystone XL, fracking, and Arctic drilling and move directly toward a 100 percent clean energy economy. But his alarmist rhetoric,  misinformation, and hypocrisy on the issue undermine the credibility of his demand.

“Does Shell get to decide the future of our planet?” Redford ominously asks in a video on the site. “Only if we let them.” Like any alarmist campaign, the site is full of misinformation. For example, it claims fracking creates “devastated communities and plummeting property values.” But empirically, it’s clear that just the opposite is true. Fracking has not only played a big role in rejuvenating many communities and elevating property values across the U.S. (just ask anyone trying to buy a home in North Dakota) but also helped the country out of the recession.

The site also incorrectly states, “President Obama has promised to reject the Keystone XL if it makes global warming worse. We already know the tar sands pipeline flunks that test.” This is false. The State Department’s own environmental review earlier this year showed that no net climate damage would occur were the pipeline to be built, finding that the oil sands would still be developed even if Keystone XL is rejected.

Ironically, the site also claims, “Oil companies are woefully unprepared to drill in the Arctic, with its 20-foot seas, gale-force winds, protracted darkness and subzero temperatures.” Apparently, Redford and the NRDC don’t recognize that it’s thanks to just such oil drilling that humanity’s been able to make similar inhospitable climates across the globe habitable.

Redford’s not exactly the best spokesperson for the cause, either. While he demands clean energy for us, he likes conventional energy for himself. He owns three houses, drives SUVs, and regularly flies in private jets. At least he has admitted this hypocrisy:

I must say, I do like racing fast cars. It’s a hypocritical, weak move on my part. But I’ve always loved speed… I love finding a good stretch of road and cutting loose in my Porsche.

Nothing wrong with that—but why shouldn’t everyone else be able to enjoy the same things Redford does? If effective, his campaign will raise the price of energy and make life more difficult for people who aren’t movie stars. Such hypocrisy and over-the-top rhetoric make it seem as though Redford is simply acting the part of clean energy advocate rather than actually being one.

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