‘Nation’s leading environmentalist’ McKibben: Energy industry’s power is the ‘problem at heart’

Updated

What’s the biggest political challenge for the green movement: public opinion or the power of Big Energy? That’s the question Chris Hayes posed to environmental activist Bill McKibben on Sunday’s Up with Chris Hayes. While Hayes acknowledged that both the “persuasion problem” and the “power problem” are intimately related, he wondered aloud which one presented the biggest obstacle to grappling with climate change.

McKibben, who has been described as “probably the nation’s leading environmentalist,” said it was the power problem. “Our problem, at heart, is the incredible financial power of this industry,” he said. “The US Chamber of Commerce—who spent more money on the election cycle last year than the RNC and the DNC combined—acts essentially as a front group, for instance, for the fossil fuel industry.”

Indeed, outspending both party committees is a feat the Chamber could easily replicate this year. According to USA Today, Chamber spending in 2012 could exceed $50 million. And that organization is just one potential conduit for the energy industry’s influence; as The Rachel Maddow Show reported on Thursday, energy mogul Harold Hamm is now Mitt Romney’s chief adviser on energy policy. The rest of his energy policy advisers have yet to be disclosed.

To get a sense of what’s truly stake in this fight, check out this TED Talk by Grist staff writer David Roberts.

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'Nation's leading environmentalist' McKibben: Energy industry's power is the 'problem at heart'

Updated