Robert Redford talks to Rachel Maddow about the Bush administration sneaking through changes to land leases and environmental regulations on election day this year hoping no one would notice. For more you can read Redford's post at the Huffington Post Americans Rejected 'Drill, Baby, Drill'--Bush Should Respect Our Choice.
Maddow: You've got a lot of experience in this field. You've been fighting on behalf of wilderness protection since the early seventies. Do you think these last minute lease plans are really serious? Do you think they'll get away with it?
Redford: Well I don't know, I think they're serious because they've been serious all along. I mean, look, Bush's policies have been a, environmental policies have been a disaster. But that's no surprise when you look at the history of what he's done since he came in. So I think they're totally serious. Whether it's going to work or not I think is going to depend on whether the public wakes up to what's really going on that's going to affect their own personal interests.
Here you have if you look at the Bush administration's cynicism and it's also been devious because when, whenever they couldn't get a bill passed legitimately they would go behind our backs. And when you stop and think about thirty years, thirty years of hard work to get certain protections passed into law like clean water, clean air, the Environmental Policy Act, those were acts to protect the American public and the land that we claim we cherish.
Well he's tried in his eight years to undo just about every one of those laws. And we stop and think it all began with Cheney doing a behind the closed doors energy policy designed with energy companies. You can pretty well see where it was all going to go, so it's pretty cynical and it's, it's in my opinion it's criminal in the sense that what are we going to have to give to our children and theirs if we tear up everything for short term gains that are tied to non-renewable energy sources? I mean do the math you've got non-renewable energy sources which are oil and gas and coal. You've got renewable energy sources which are now totally viable, safer, cleaner, better economically. What are we going to invest in?
The thing that really is awful, I mean really, really deeply awful what it's doing behind the American public's back, the cynicism of designing a plan like this, putting out oil leases, gas leases, coal leases in 360,000 acres that surround national parks and monuments and canyons and rivers is pretty devastating in terms of the pollution and the economics of it and so forth.
The fact that they would do that on election day when everybody was distracted by the election and set a date for Dec. 19th, and the sister agency, this came through the BLM, okay, so the sister agency, which is the National Park Service wasn't even told about it. They went behind their backs so they could jam it through, so obviously there's a plan that Bush goes out and as he goes out the door he'd like to give us one good kick in the tail on his way out. This to me is the most cynical, very dangerous and as you said Rachel, that once it's done, it's intractable so I'm mad, the American people are mad and we can stop this. I mean President-elect Obama has a plan to go in a forward direction. Not a backward direction like Bush's planning. So just as the guy is coming into office this guy tries to sneak one past us before the guy can even take office. Pretty cynical and I hope it's stopped. It should be stopped.
Maddow: I know there's a thirty day public protest period which ends the first week in December which is coming up very shortly. Do you think that that public protest, that form of public official protest would help stop this lease sale?
Redford: Well look I'm just this one voice in the wilderness, I mean excuse the pun, but I mean I'm just one voice out there but I'm glad to go on this show simply to say if we pull together the American people get up, now and contact their local official and say we don't want this. This is our land. It's not his land. It's our land. It's our heritage and you're going to trash it for some short term gain that's going to destroy some of the most beautiful places on the face of the earth? I think the American people will stop it and can stop it but they're going to have to act fast because these guys are trying to pull an end around.