Canadian Oil Execs Slam Hollywood for 'Trash-Talking' Energy Sector

Robert Redford - H 2013
Courtesy of Natural Resources Defense Council

An attack on Robert Redford and other celebrities comes as Neil Young plays four benefit concerts here to help stop expanding energy exploration.

TORONTO – Canada's biggest oil executives on Wednesday blasted Hollywood for "trash-talking" Alberta's oil sands development.

Brian Ferguson, president and CEO of Calgary oil giant Cenovus, in an address to the Canadian Club in Toronto named Robert Redford as among celebrities that are spreading falsehoods about Canada's energy sector.

"In Hollywood, the land of make-believe, everything is black and white, good or evil. It makes for a compelling story, but the real world doesn’t work that way. And when it comes to energy, Hollywood stereotypes are unhelpful and often dead wrong. So it’s time to inject a little reality into the energy debate," Ferguson said.

Also on hand in Toronto was Russ Girling, CEO of TransCanada, which is awaiting word from the Obama Administration in the U.S. about whether the proposed Keystone XL pipeline can go ahead as planned, despite environmental concerns.

"They made up phrases which are catchy like the ‘oil sands are the largest carbon bomb on earth,’ and if you developed it, it is game over for the planet. Obviously, that scares people. But they are based in fantasy and not in reality,” Girling said.

The oil industry presentation to the Canadian Club comes as Canadian rocker Neil Young continues a series of four Honor the Treaties benefit concerts as part of his tour to help stop expanding oil-sands development in Alberta.

"I see a government that is completely out of control. Money is number one. Integrity isn't even on the map," Young told a press conference on Sunday in Toronto to back a legal fund for the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, whose traditional lands run up against the development.

Redford in September criticized Alberta's oil industry, calling its bitumen "the dirtiest oil on the planet."