McKibben Video Shows Failed Prop 112 An Effort To ‘Fundamentally Break’ Oil And Gas
As activists who brought a 2,500-foot setback to Colorado voters in 2018 vow to return in two years with a similar measure, a video has surfaced of one of the failed measure’s biggest proponents—350.org’s Bill McKibben—in an October appearance applauding the effort to “fundamentally break” the oil and gas industry.
McKibben’s “A Night of Inspiration” on Friday, October 19th was billed as dinner and auction to raise funds for the Proposition 112 campaign, Colorado Rising.
“But the reason I am here of course is that there is no fight more crucial than the one that you all are engaged in,” McKibben said in his opening remarks.
An unlisted YouTube video of the roughly 25 minutes speech delivered in Englewood, Colo. just three weeks before the November election reveals that McKibben focused on the goal of the ballot measure: to “fundamentally break the power of the fossil fuel industry.”
“Let me just back into it a little bit. What I want you to understand is I know you get why this is so important for Colorado, and especially for the people, and they are never people with a lot of options or privileges who have to live next to an oil well. I get, that’s obvious, I just want you all just to know what a crucial role this is playing in the larger, most crucial fight that humans as a whole have ever taken on,” he said.
“It’s difficult to fight climate change sort of all at once. Sometimes we can do it, we have things like the Paris climate accord, but most of the time the ways that we fight it looks a lot like this, place by place, piece by piece, trying to fundamentally break the power of the fossil fuel industry so it can no longer limit the future for everybody else,” McKibben declared.
In his words, McKibben described an industry in its death throes, “cornered,” and determined to lash out at competitors and consumers.
“There are a lot of things going wrong and most of them are related to the fact that the fossil fuel industry, feeling itself cornered, is now doing everything it can to prolong its business model for another 20, 30 years,” he said.
Standing in the way of oil and gas are renewable energy sources, McKibben said, noting that people connected to the National Renewable Energy Lab, a federal laboratory funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and based in Golden, Colo., were in attendance.
“The fossil fuel industry, the oil industry, is absolutely insistent that we not do that. They want us to go as slowly as possible so they can wring the last dime out of their business model even at the cost of breaking the planet and that is going to be the cost,” he continued.
McKibben pointed to the #ExxonKnew campaign.
“We know a lot more about this now, you know. In the last 3 or 4 years great reporters from the LA times, the Columbian Journalism School and others, have done a series of really powerful exposés proving that companies like Exxon knew everything there was to know about climate change back in the 1980s,” McKibben said.
“In fact they spent hundreds of millions of dollars building the architecture of deceit and denial and disinformation,” he added.
McKibben alleged that the opponents of Proposition 112 were spending millions to do the same thing in Colorado.
“And they are willing to lie, as you are finding out, right to this minute. They are going to spend $30 million or $40 million or whatever they think it takes on Proposition 112 and they are going to do it to lie, to scare the hell out of people,” McKibben said.
McKibben echoed his hosts’ invitational message, which touted the fundraising event as an effort to “protect all Colorado communities against fracking and creates a precedent for action across the nation.”
“All they’ve got is money. They don’t have people, they don’t have people they can turn out, they don’t have arguments, they have money. And left to its own devices, money is enough. It wins. Left to its own devices, money is enough to win almost any political fight. So our job is to make sure that it is not left to its own devices,” McKibben said.
Thousands of energy industry workers turned out again and again to oppose Proposition 112, and the setback measure was handily defeated, with “No” earning just over 55 percent of the total vote out of nearly 2.5 million votes cast.
State Rep. Joe Salazar, a key endorser of the measure and counsel to the campaign, also spoke at the fundraiser, as did State Representative-elect Emily Sirota, who pledged after the measure lost in November to continue the battle.
“826K of my fellow Coloradans — including a majority of Denver, which I will represent — voted for setbacks & did so in the face of $40M of oil/gas spending. The health/safety of Coloradans will be my priority & we won’t be intimidated by the oil/gas industry’s money. #copolitics,” Sirota Tweeted on November 7.
Notably, McKibben did not mention either “health” or “safety” even once during the videoed portion of his main speech, terms the proponents of the setback measure used frequently throughout the campaign, and was part of their campaign name: Colorado Rising For Health and Safety.
McKibben’s 350.org and other national anti-fracking groups, like Food & Water Watch, poured tens of thousands of dollars into the Proposition 112 campaign, according to a Western Wire analysis of campaign donations.
350.org contributed $42,000 in three donations, while Food & Water Watch did heavy lifting, contributing approximately $330,000 to the Colorado Rising committee.