October 19, 2011 / 9:39 PM / 8 years ago

Robert Redford no scientist: Canada energy minister

CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Canada’s energy minister took a shot at one of Hollywood’s most accomplished actors and directors on Wednesday, saying Robert Redford does not have the credentials to speculate on the environmental impact of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.

Joe Oliver, Canadian Minister of Natural Resources answers questions at a news conference at the Canadian energy and mines conference in Kananaskis, Alberta, July 19, 2011. REUTERS/Todd Korol/Files

Redford, 75, earlier this week posted a video on the New York Times website calling on the Obama administration to block the TransCanada Corp-backed project, which would carry crude from Alberta’s oil sands to Texas refiners.

“Piping tar-sands crude across our country would expose Americans to the kind of ruptures and blowouts that in just the past year have brought environmental disaster to the Yellowstone River, the North Sea and the Gulf of Mexico,” Redford said on his video. “And for what? Enriching the oil industry, that’s what.”

Redford’s acting credits include leading roles in “All the President’s Men” and “The Sting”. He won an Academy Award for Best Director in 1981 for “Ordinary People”.

But his comment has not made a fan of Joe Oliver, Canada’s minister of natural resources, and an ardent supporter of the pipeline project.

Speaking from Paris, where he is attending an International Energy Agency ministerial meeting and trying to persuade the European Union not to label Alberta’s oil sands crude as particularly dirty, Oliver took issue with Redford’s stance.

“I’m not a scientist, most people aren’t. And neither, to my knowledge, is Robert Redford,” he told reporters on a conference call. “I’m more impressed by independent scientific evaluation.”

The U.S. State Department is expected to decide by the end of the year whether to allow the pipeline project to go ahead. Its supporters tout the jobs to come during the $7 billion line’s construction and how it will supplant imports from repressive regimes.

Its opponents charge that building the line would encourage further development of the oil sands, which emits high levels of carbon. They also say that the line’s route over the Ogallala aquifer could threaten drinking water supplies for much of the central United States in the event of a spill.

(Reporting by Scott Haggett; editing by Peter Galloway)

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