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Redford, the Rockies and All Expenses Paid? I'm there 

McCrory speaks at Sundance environmental summit

When you think of Robert Redford, Al Gore and global warming, what other public figure naturally comes to mind? Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory, maybe? Unlikely as it may seem, McCrory was a speaker earlier this month at Redford's Sundance Summit on combating global warming. McCrory says he was one of only a few Republicans invited to the conference. He was even quoted in an article on the left-leaning about the power governments have to improve the environment through the high-dollar purchases they make.

McCrory's presence at the event may seem a bit odd, since he isn't exactly known in Charlotte as an anti-global warming activist. In fact, when compared to the environmental resumes of many other conference attendees -- some of whom hailed from the Pew Charitable Trust, the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation and Generation Earth -- McCrory's environmental pedigree is thin.

The list of environmental accomplishments on McCrory's campaign website makes no mention of global warming, but it does note that Charlotte has built bike lanes, has a tree ordinance and that under the mayor's supervision, the city's drinking water now meets 100 percent of its regulatory requirements. Not exactly on the same environmental footing as Al Gore, who also spoke at the summit.

The gathering even has Soviet roots. It began in 1989, when Redford initiated and hosted Greenhouse Glasnost, an international summit on global warming held at the actor's Sundance film event, and co-convened with the Soviet Academy of Sciences. The first Greenhouse Glasnost, which has evolved into the annual Sundance Summit, brought together policymakers, scientists, environmentalists, industrialists and artists to find ways to transform knowledge on global warming into popular action.

All this is enough to make one wonder if McCrory is a closeted radical environmentalist. So we asked him.

McCrory told Creative Loafing that while he considers himself an environmentalist, he doesn't have enough information about global warming to say whether he considers it a legitimate threat to the planet or to Charlotte. Like the other participants, McCrory said, he got an all-expenses-paid invitation to the conference. He said he spoke not on global warming, but on how transit and land-use planning can help protect the environment.

McCrory said his speech also contained some criticism of the global warming rhetoric he heard at the summit.

"I attended to bring a balance to the discussion," McCrory said. "I told this group that they wouldn't be taken seriously if they didn't talk about nuclear power as an alternative to fossil fuel. I said nothing should be left off the plate."

McCrory said he was frustrated that other speakers neglected to discuss the economic impact of policies they were proposing.

"I kind of call myself a pragmatic environmentalist," McCrory said. "We're walking that fine line between creating and protecting jobs and maintaining the quality of life and environment that brought many of us here."

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