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April 21, 2014

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Six questions for Robert Redford

Filmmaker, Sundance Institute founder

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  • Robert Redford, co-producer and narrator of the film, “Fighting Goliath — Texas Coal Wars" talks about the origins of the grass roots efforts that inspired the making of the short film.
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  • Redford discusses the importance of a solution-based approach to informing the public about global warming.
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  • Redford talks about the economical factor associated with global warming and forms of renewable energy.
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  • Redford on the continued use of coal-fired power plants and other forms of non-renewable energy.
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  • Redford talks about why he doesn't support nuclear power as a legitimate form of alternative energy.
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Robert Redford narrates a new short film, “Fighting Goliath: Texas Coal Wars,” that is being shown this week by environmental groups in seven cities in Nevada and Utah. The Sun talked to the 72-year-old actor and director about his history as an environmentalist, the future of the West and presidential politics.

How long have you been an environmentalist?

Global warming has been an issue for 20 years at the Sundance Preserve (in Utah). We had a global warming conference at the preserve in 1989 and made a statement about how serious it was even then. But it didn’t get much traction. I’ve been committed ever since.

Three coal-fired power plants are proposed in Nevada. Why is there a rush to push them through?

They’re trying to use the Bush administration before it’s over. People who think it’s doing a good job are in La-La Land or stuck in the past. We should have been moving toward renewable energy sources 40 years ago, but because of the political power of energy companies, that message never got to the people. At least it’s happening now, before it’s too late.

Is it important to defeat those plans?

I think the cost of those plants is going to be enormous, not only in terms of pollution. Nevada could do better with renewable energy plants, which would bring jobs and other economic benefits with them.

Are you worried for the West?

The fact is the West is a trouble zone. We have wildfires, dirty air and water and drought. There’s less snowmelt and the Colorado River doesn’t reach the Gulf anymore. Our future is going to be talking about water shortages and air pollution.

Is nuclear power a solution?

When you have a choice, I would spend my time on renewable energy instead. I won’t support nuclear power unless they solved the waste and security issues. For 10 years I’ve worked against them jamming Yucca Mountain down the public’s throat.

Will you support Obama or McCain?

I support Obama. It’s a very clear choice. But I think there is more meaningful work to be done on the grass-roots level. The presidential race is like a circus, like the Oscars. People lose themselves in the superficial glamour of it.

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