White House Rebuffs ‘Keep it in the Ground’ Demands

Activists in the Keep it in the Ground movement are facing another setback following the dismissal by the White House of a petition demanding an end to oil and gas production.

The petition—created earlier this year on the White House’s “We the People” website—asked President Obama to halt “all new drilling, fracking, and mining on public lands and waters” in the United States.

The White House, which responds to any petition receiving at least a 100,000 signatures, largely rebuffed the activist’s demands in an online post. “Even as we move full steam ahead towards cleaner energy, the United States will still need fossil fuels in the near term,” the White House said.

These comments echo those of Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell who, earlier this month, characterized the “Keep it in the Ground” protests as “naïve.”

“It’s going to take a very long time before we can wean ourselves from fossil fuels, so I think that to keep it in the ground is naïve, to say we could shift to 100 percent renewables is naïve,” Jewell said. “We really have to have a blend over time, and a transition over time, that recognizes the real complexity of what we’re dealing with.”

The Administration’s response is also in line with Jewell’s comments in terms of its emphasis on energy efficiency. Increased energy efficiency, whether it be in the form of better gas mileage, Energy Star appliances, or “green buildings,” saves American households and businesses billions of dollars each year while also reducing the nation’s overall energy consumption.

“New cars and trucks are more fuel-efficient than ever and, thanks to the Administration’s fuel efficiency standards, they’re projected to roughly double in overall efficiency from 2010 to 2025. We’ll continue to improve upon this,” the White House noted in its response.

In responding to this petition, the White House joins a growing chorus of voices that recognize that the demands of the “Keep it in the Ground” movement are unrealistic and a distraction to the sensible dialogues underway about the nation’s energy needs.