Appalachian Basin

Long-Time Climate and “Keep it in the Ground” Activist Bill McKibben Coming to Pennsylvania

Bill McKibben, long-time climate activist and co-founder of “Keep It In the Ground” organization, is coming to the heart of natural gas country for the Pennsylvania Climate Convergence conference on Saturday. McKibben has previously stated he’s on a mission to “kill” the oil and natural gas industry and has compared the industry to “the crimes of slavery, totalitarianism, colonialism [and] apartheid.”  

So, what is he going to talk about? 

Ending Fossil Fuels and Upending Pennsylvania Economy? 

McKibben and his organization are loud about their goal: to end the use of all fossil fuels. According to  

“Coal mines, oil fields, fracking wheels, pipelines and all kinds of fossil fuel structures have no place in our world and need soon to become just part of history!” 

And as InsideSources reports, McKibben has worked hard to keep “fossil-fuel reserves that we know about underground,” forcing the country and globe to rely on renewable energy sources only (which rely on and need Pennsylvania’s natural gas), and to brand fossil fuel companies as “Public Enemy Number One.” 

That’s a curious message in a state that counts natural gas production as a key industry and economic driver that contributed $24.4 billion to the state’s GDP and had a total economic impact of $41.4 billion in 2022 alone.   

Source: Marcellus Shale Coalition, 2023 

Proposing a National Fracking Ban? 

McKibben also previously proposed that the Democratic National Committee include a national fracking ban in its platform in 2016, which the party wisely rejected. Fracking bans were a large and contentious topic in the 2022 Pennsylvania Senate race. While neither current Senator John Fetterman nor then candidate Dr. Oz had always held their position on supporting fracking, they both wholly embraced the technology as they recognized it was a key message for voters in the Keystone State.  

Similarly, President Joe Biden caused an uproar in Pennsylvania when he declared, and then tried to defend, his position on banning fracking, even causing the Washington Post to write the headline 

“Union leaders have Biden’s back on fracking. But in Pennsylvania, their members aren’t so sure.” 

It’s clear that banning fracking is not a winning message in Pennsylvania.  

Suing Pennsylvania’s Lifeblood through Climate Litigation? 

McKibben has a long history of supporting lawsuits against the American energy, recently praising California’s decision to launch a lawsuit as a “big big deal 

And earlier this year, a New York Magazine piece penned by McKibben documents the many national players behind the climate litigation mill, including, the Rockefeller Family Fund, and the Rockefeller-funded Center for Climate Integrity (CCI), the main recruiter of these lawsuits.  

His appearance in the state is curious timing as it’s become apparent that CCI has clearly set its sights on Pennsylvania in hopes of finding a friendly municipality to file suit against energy companies.  

But Pennsylvania isn’t New York or California. The climate litigation campaign faces a steep climb in one of the top natural gas producing states in the country. Will McKibben openly pitch Pennsylvania to follow in California and New York’s (defeated) footsteps?  

Bottom Line: No matter what McKibben espouses in Saturday’s (8pm?!) speech, his anti-energy, anti-economy messages are sure to go over like a lead balloon in the energy-proud Keystone state.  

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