Dispatch From Oberlin: McKibben Complains Fringe Anti-Fossil Fuel Agenda “Not Completely Popular” with Democrats
EID is in Oberlin Ohio, where national anti-fossil fuel heavy hitters have descended, weeks before the election, to host a national climate conference to triage failed campaigns to ban fracking in the state. Their conference, “After Fossil Fuels: The Next Economy” was kicked off by none other than 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben, who is the leader of the fringe “Keep It In The Ground” (KIITG) movement. McKibben served as the opening act for billionaire activist Tom Steyer, who will speak at the conference tonight.
Well, it turns out that Ohioans, who are reaping environmental and economic benefits from fracking, don’t really like out-of-state, anti-fossil fuel activists parachuting into Ohio to tell them what to do. Even in Oberlin College, one of the most liberal areas of Ohio, McKibben only drew a few hundred people to hear him speak – and most of the folks in the audience were from out of state (primarily New York)! Notably, there wasn’t a single political candidate in attendance, not even Democratic Senate candidate Ted Strickland, who has maxed-out in donations from Steyer.
And in a sign of just how out of touch anti-fossil fuel activists are, McKibben spent most of his talk complaining about President Obama and Hillary Clinton saying they are “not sufficient.” As McKibben put it,
“If Hillary Clinton wins the White House the democratic platform, which thanks to Bernie, I got to help write, he got to name five of the fifteen platform writers and by hanging tough, he made sure that a lot of what we wanted managed to make its way in. Well one of the things that’s in there is a promise that there will be an emergency climate summit within the first 100 days of the new administration with an eye toward a mobilization like World War II to get us going. I will tell you that this was not completely popular with the people who were negotiating for the Clinton team, but they went along with it and I’m sure they will hold it. And if they do if there are scientists gathered in the White house to discuss this, we will need hundreds of thousands of people out in the street and you are going to need to get on buses and trains and get from Ohio to D.C. for that day.” (emphasis added)
McKibben went on to claim that we need to use money from the defense budget to transition to 100 percent clean energy:
“And if you think we don’t have the money then you aren’t paying attention. We have things like the defense budget that need to be put to work defending us against the most dangerous adversaries we face. The conceit of that New Republic piece is that we are in fact already at war that we don’t really recognize it.” (emphasis added)
Aside from the fact that McKibben is calling on activists to burn quite a lot of fossil fuels to get to Washington, D.C. for his World War II mobilization, it’s telling that even though McKibben was able to get his extreme agenda on the Democratic National Committee (DNC) platform, everyone is pretty much ignoring it. McKibben openly admits that it’s “not completely popular” with the Clinton campaign. Quite frankly, it’s not completely popular with most Democrats, either. Remember that President Obama just said during an interview with Leonardo DiCaprio last week, “the fact that we’re transitioning from coal to natural gas means less greenhouse gases.” Obama went on to say we can’t just shut off fossil fuels because “we’ve got to live in the real world.”
Here’s what McKibben had to say about that huge blow to his campaign:
“Barack Obama last week on the south lawn of the White House, I think, epitomized the way of thinking about this that isn’t working anymore. He said, and I quote, ‘global warming is a problem that creeps up on you.’ Not really: in his eight years in office the world has remarkably changed. If you look at a satellite picture of eight years ago from now, there is way less white up at the top. He went on to say, ‘What I always tell my staff is better is good. If we’re doing something that is making more progress and moving us forward, increasing clean energy then that is ultimately how we end up solving this problem.’ That’s incorrect.”
But more importantly, what McKibben is pushing is “not completely popular” with Ohioans. The working men and women of Ohio – who are eagerly anticipating the hundreds of jobs and millions in wages promised to them over the next few years from pipeline, compressor stations, and fury of natural gas fired power plants that are coming to the state, thanks to our energy boom – have rejected this agenda. Just take a look at recent pipeline hearing, where unions packed the house in support of the project. Or, look at headlines today from the Youngstown area where unions, democrats, republicans, and even the media have openly rejected the ideologies that Bill McKibben espouses, telling voters not to fall for their “bill of goods.”
While this message may have played well to a handful of college students and majority of out of state activists, the people who actually live, work, and vote in Ohio know better. Taking money from the defense budget to fund solar panels and eliminating billions of investment into the state is why Ohioans took a pass on this sideshow in Oberlin.