SEARCHING FOR THE BETTER WAY ~ Bill McKibben on Zoom from Harrisburg Tonight (9/30/23)

by admin on September 30, 2023

Bill McKibben is the “Conscience of the Concerned” indeed!

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

From an Article by Nicole Jacob’s, Energy in Depth, September 29, 2023

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.


Wildfireside Chat with Bill McKibben of

Special Preview Hybrid Event, 9/30 at 8 p.m. Join in person at the Unitarian Church of Harrisburg, 1280 Clover Lane, 17113

Join via Zoom ~ Register at ~

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Steve Curwood October 1, 2023 at 1:39 am


O’NEILL: Governments and the private sector are increasingly touting clean and renewable energy as the way of the future. But if you follow the money, you might get a very different impression. That’s because fossil fuels are receiving subsidies worth around $7 trillion dollars each year, according to a recent report from the International Monetary Fund or IMF. Antung Liu is a Technical Assistance Advisor with the International Monetary Fund and a coauthor of the report. He joined Living on Earth Host Steve Curwood.

CURWOOD: Your paper talks about $7 trillion in subsidies; about a trillion and a half of that are direct, or explicit, subsidies. How do governments directly give money to the fossil fuel industry?
LIU: These aren’t typically handouts directly to the fossil fuel industry. Rather, they’re handouts that they intend for people. A lot of governments are extremely sensitive to the prices of energy, because it’s very popular to have low energy prices. For example, in the United States, one of the most salient or visible prices in the economy is the price of gasoline. Every corner, you drive around, and you see these prices posted. And so people are really sensitive about these prices. So a lot of governments subsidize the cost of energy in order to stay popular, in order to keep the prices of energy commodities low. So that 20%, that 1.4 trillion, is that: keeping prices artificially low, below what it should cost to make these energy products.

CURWOOD: Now, implicit subsidies are prices that don’t consider the social costs, such as air pollution, or climate disruption, or congestion, or development issues. And I guess 80% of the subsidies that you looked at are implicit. How can you capture the value, though, of those implicit subsidies? How can you put a price, say, on air pollution or climate change or congestion?
LIU: So it’s a separate line of work to think about how big the external cost of energy products is. So, the cost to society not reflected by the gas seller or the gas consumer, the person buying the gas or the gas station. And so for example, the external cost of gasoline is congestion. It’s been found to be the number one cost, which is that when I drive my car, I don’t consider the effects of driving my car on other people, and especially in cities like New York, or Los Angeles, the congestion is very high. And so when I drive my car, it causes other people to not get to their places as quickly. For coal fired power, for example, the air pollution is very high. So it sheds particulate matter, unless you put a scrubber on it, there’s sulfur dioxide, that has a negative impact on our health. All these costs should be reflected in the price to the consumer. And the best way to do that is a price on carbon. So there’s nearly universal agreement among environmental economists and the economics profession in general, that we need to think about a carbon tax or emissions trading system, an ETS, in order to help the market cost of fossil fuel reflect its social cost.

According to the IMF, fossil fuels receive implicit subsidies when they are not priced to account for external costs including those resulting from air pollution. (Photo)

CURWOOD: Hmm. Boy, getting stuck in traffic in Boston, the way many of us, where our studio’s located, that price would be very high! It takes a long time to get across town.
LIU: Yeah, absolutely. You think about all the millions of people stuck in traffic, all the time that lost, what they could be doing otherwise, that’s the real pain of congestion.

CURWOOD: Now, how do fossil fuel subsidies compare to renewable and carbon free energy subsidies?
LIU: This is a great question and one that we didn’t directly examine in our report. I found statistics from the International Energy Agency, which found that in 2022, global spending on clean energy, not subsidies, was only $1.6 trillion. This is dwarfed by the $7 trillion figure that we find in our report. To examine the question of subsidies and fossil fuels versus those subsidies on renewable energy, I found a report in 2020 from the International Renewable Energy Agency, which said that explicit fossil fuel subsidies were larger than those on renewable energy by a factor of 19. In other words, we claim as a society that we’d like to subsidize renewable energy, we’d like to foster it and promote it. But in fact, we subsidize and promote fossil fuels much more.

CURWOOD: Sounds like for almost every $20 bill that’s spent on government subsidies for fossil fuels, less than $1 goes to the renewable energy business.
LIU: That’s an apt way of putting it, yeah.

CURWOOD: So what is the economic case for eliminating fossil fuel subsidies?
LIU: So government budgets are limited, you know, we’re living in a time where nearly every country operates at a deficit. The United States, you know, the CBO, Congressional Budgetary Office, recently said that spending exceeds our revenues by like 5% of GDP each year. And so there’s limited fiscal resources to go around. And one of the points we make is that when there’s a time of limited fiscal resources, you shouldn’t spend money on things that are very wasteful. You know, you could be spending money on health care, you could be investing in education or infrastructure. Instead, you’re artificially lowering fossil fuel prices. And that has a negative impact to health, to congestion, to global warming. You got to understand that the social cost is actually mostly local, the benefits received from reducing fossil fuel subsidies aren’t realized far away. So if China reduces its emissions, the United States perceives a part of the benefit but most of it stays in China. For example, congestion and air pollution are both local environmental problems. And so it’s in most countries’ self-interest to eliminate subsidies.

CURWOOD: All right, time for a reality check, Professor Liu. The fossil fuel industry is extremely powerful and influential, to put it mildly, and deeply involved in political systems and governments around the world. So how can these subsidies get phased out?

LIU: We think that the benefits to society are very large. And you’re right, that there are costs on some parties. So as a society, we need to agree collectively that we want to move into a better place. We think that a price on carbon should be part of a comprehensive reform. Raising people’s fuel prices is really unpopular, right? Like if you raise my electricity cost here, I’d be grumpy about it. I think a lot of people might feel that way, if that’s all that happened. But then when you consider the broader implications of a policy package that we think should include it all, which is, you know, spending the money that you were previously using on explicit fossil fuel subsidies and putting it somewhere else, to invest in health care. So when Iran eliminated its subsidies on gasoline, it sent households a check, every household got a check that helped cushion the blow. And for the poorest households who weren’t spending very much money on gasoline, because maybe they didn’t have a car or they didn’t use a car very much. They were actually much better off than they would have been. I think that’d be popular and you know, people would begin to see hey, overall, we’re better off when we have raised the price of energy.

O’NEILL: Antung Liu is a Technical Assistance Advisor with the International Monetary Fund. He spoke with Living on Earth Host Steve Curwood.


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