LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Actor and environmentalist Robert Redford has weighed in on the U.S. oil spill crisis, condemning efforts by major energy companies to promote their environmental credentials and use their money to influence "their parrots in Congress."
In a five-minute YouTube video, produced by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Redford says the worst oil spill in U.S. history should serve as a lesson for Americans to move away from their dependence on oil and pursue alternative energy like wind and solar power.
"I think it is time for the American people to take charge of their own livelihood and say, let's stop this and let's move to a clean energy policy," the "Out of Africa" star says in the video "The Fix" released on Thursday.
Redford, 73, who is also an NRDC trustee, said "green" advertising campaigns by BP, and Chevron's "Human Energy" slogan made him "want to throw up".
In a video featuring photos and TV footage of the six week long oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, the Oscar-winning director accused big oil companies of being in collusion with U.S. politicians.
He urged Americans to "stop listening to the self-interested propaganda of the oil companies and their parrots in Congress".
The video was released as BP began capturing some of the estimated 19,000 barrels a day that have been escaping into the sea since April 20. The British oil giant has said it does not expect to be able to fully halt the oil flow until August.
Oil has already hit Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama shores, forced the closure of some fishing grounds and killed hundreds of birds, turtles and dolphins. Oil began washing up on Florida beaches on Friday.
Redford, whose father was an accountant for former giant Standard Oil, said he worked in the oilfields as a teenager.
"Even at the age of 16, it bothered me because I could see what was happening up there (was) that the propaganda of oil companies, and the lobbyists they hire, were selling the idea that it was going to be great for the economy, great for everybody. And I saw it differently."
Redford is one of the few Hollywood celebrities to have raised his voice so far on the six week crisis.
"Titanic" and "Avatar" director and deep sea diver James Cameron this week described as "morons" those working in vain on efforts to contain the spill.
Cameron, who helped develop deep sea remotely operated vehicles for his "Titanic" shipwreck documentaries, said BP had turned down his offers of help.
Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte