The Empty Phony “Keep-It-in-the-Ground” Movement

natural gas industry

Keep It Grounded In Fact
(American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers)


The “Keep-It-in-the-Ground” movement is a completely empty gesture that reveals the hollowness and shallow thoughtless nature of all fractivist enterprises.

Wikipedia defines “virtue signaling” as the “platitudinous, empty, or superficial support of certain political views” voiced by people who “value outward appearance over substantive action.”

Based on that definition, 61 candidates for the Virginia House of Delegates, three candidates for Lieutenant Governor and at least one gubernatorial candidate have been campaigning around the Commonwealth all year with the virtue signal blinking.


Each of them has vowed not to take any campaign contribution from Dominion Energy, Virginia’s largest utility and its largest political donor. However, they won’t go as far as “refusing money from the state party or other organizations that accept Dominion cash.”

Not that there is anything at all improper about taking contributions from Dominion, the Richmond, VA-based energy company that employs thousands, supplies electricity in parts of Virginia and North Carolina, and delivers natural gas to parts of West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina.

But in order to curry favor with the anti-oil-and-natural-gas activists who oppose the development of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (which Dominion is underwriting with other regional energy companies), these candidates would prefer to get Dominion’s political largess through more indirect channels.

And, it is this hypocritical behavior that exposes the illogical, unachievable goals of the Keep-It-in-the-Ground movement.

Oil and natural gas make our modern lives possible. Everything from transportation fuels to life-saving medical devices to our computers and cell phones depend on petrochemicals for their very existence. And for most of these products there simply is no substitute.

Yet, many people—apparently ignorant of the vital role that oil and natural gas play in their daily lives—continue to signal their virtue by simultaneously denouncing and depending on oil and natural gas.

"Keep-It-In-the Ground

Take the New Jersey driver of a red Tesla with the license plate “CO2FREE.” While it is possible that this person isn’t aware of the environmental degradation  and the injuries and deaths that children suffer in pursuit of the raw materials needed to create electric car batteries, surely they understand that the electricity coming out of the wall has to be generated somewhere.

Unfortunately, there are very real consequences of all of these “platitudinous, empty, and superficial” gestures. They are reinforcing a false narrative about the role of oil and natural gas in our daily lives and resulting in very real—and very misguided—legislation that has real economic consequences for working-class Americans.

Editors Note: The superficial shallow thinking of fractivists who talk in mindless slogans and regurgitate talking points without thinking is a very real problem. What we’re dealing with is ideology substituted for facts and elementary logic. Some would say the problem can be addressed by mere education but the reality is that most of the folks spewing the nonsense already consider themselves the smartest people in the room. Therefore, education in the normal sense of the word isn’t welcomed and is of little use. There are, to be sure, those who can reached through the facts, but they aren’t the problem. The only real answer is to fight back and beat the ideologues represented by “Keep-It-in-the-Ground” movement, which means being politically active and engaged. That’s what this blog is all about.

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13 thoughts on “The Empty Phony “Keep-It-in-the-Ground” Movement

  1. Keep it in the ground is simply a denial of self hypocrisy. When saying this whether holding up a sign or speaking at a hearing it’s just a placebo cry out, to make them feel good about their denial of dependence. I especially love their argument when they are told in conversation, “if you don’t want it don’t use it” and they respond “we have to until the world demands renewables”. That’s about the most shallow excuse ever for being hypocrites. Could you imagine being this shallow? In a previous responces on another post someone wrote I wish the fuel companies would turn off their supply!!! I bet those antis got a good laugh at that, they know the public service commission would not let that happen protecting them from their own hypocrisy. Leave it in the ground you say? I say demonstrate the strength of your convictions and self cut-off, quit being such good customers

  2. Vic,
    When concering the argument of “we have to until the world demands renewables”, I simply respond that there are plenty of third and fourth world countries that are doing that right now they should live amongst them. Humans have re-used excrement for fuel for a long, long time, even before Mesopotamia was established. Today there are millions of people who live their lives happily in a relative way without a cell phone, a computer, or a EV like a Tesla. Those are the folks who are true to “keeping it in the ground”.


      What year was the first bill to ban fracking on public lands introduced? Is there one now? Who has signed on?

      How many resolutions have there been against fracking, pipelines and more? The antifracking movement isn’t “phony” in the sense that they say what it is they want. They want no new pipelines or power plants and a ban on fracking. Getting a ban on fracking on federal lands is just part of the plan.

  3. How many legislators in Congress have signed on to the keep it in the ground movement’s bill? Sure the politicians will do what it takes to get elected and they court and listen to people like the progressive groups or the antifracking groups or the 100is now, all wind and solar groups, so they sign a pledge not take take money. Remember how Clinton was followed around about this as well as being a target of the antifracking movement? That’s one thing. The politicians are also listening to the antifracking movement and taking action so their words are not always empty in that sense. Three states have banned the production of natrual gas via a certain form of fracking.

    And according to tom Johnson and state impact there is a candidate for governor of new jersey running on a ban fracking platform. In that case it’s a ban in the deleware river basin. There isn’t any reason to believe that this candidate isn’t serious about this. The Republican governor of Maryland just banned fracking in the whole state of Maryland right?

  4. By the way this article doesn’t even link to the ban on fracking in Maryland as a result of politicians acting but rather some legislation about raising the amount of renewables in Maryland portfolio from 20 to 25 percent. . The grounded in fact people seem a little clueless with their campaign. That’s not surprising when you think about it actually as it’s likely Maryland still has coal production in the state and natrual gas production is banned. Guess they aren’t as saavy as the Koch’s eh?


    By the way this is an article in two locations and neither is an industry funded blog , but rather places that do news like state impact pa. It’s about a new jersey democrat running for governor on a ban fracking platform. Sounds like the Bernie Sanders campaign for president and also the zephyr teachout campaign back in 2014 for governor of new york.

  6. “most of the folks spewing the nonsense already consider themselves the smartest person in the room”.

    Ya sure got that right Tom. That’s what makes leftists vicious politics so inflexible and condescending. It’s not going to end well.

    Teslas cost at least $70K and have 2000lbs of li-ion batteries which are only 5% recyclable. The company- like Solar City is way in the red. There is no point source pollution, they accelerate like a sportbike and the regenerative braking is great. I’ve driven one.

    BUT: to get from NY to FL you must stick like glue to I-95 or 81 and suffer the range anxiety of getting to the next supercharging station, powered by- say it with me- natural gas, nuclear, coal, or oil!

    Keep it in the ground types could boycott fossil fuels. Right… they’re all just posers.


      Well I am going to guess the last version of this bill had more cosponsors but perhaps not. No surprise to see Bernie Sanders or elizabeth Warren there but did you know Kirsten gillibrand of NY was a cosponsor?

      And it’s easy to find all the usual suspects involved when the first bill was introduced. Bill mckibben,. Michael brune etc.

      Sure a bill like this is largely symbolic but it does show who is in bed with the antifracking movement or influenced by it.


    Who remembers when Dave publow gave this speech? I think Jim Willis mentioned him in a write up about this hearing. It’s prophetic don’t you think? It demand a ban on fracking. Not regs. Who remembers when the same guy got arrested with Al gores daughter last summer and with Tim dechristopher and the girl Sophie who was injured then in North Dakota over the pipeline there? What about when Dave got arrested over Spectra nynj project back in 2012?

    Keep in mind this stuff will be in history books.


        Ha! Well that made me chuckle. What can I say spuds except this: some call reporting or journalism the first rough draft of history. The reality is that it is painfully obvious with the topics of fracking, natrual gas and most certainly pipelines that in large part the press is getting they story wrong. How can it be that in this historic moment in time, as far as energy is concerned specific to natrual gas, most of the press has been and continues to sleep through the rise of this antifracking pipeline resistance movement?

        It reminds me of the title of that book…the extraordinary madness of crowds or something close to that.

        The only thing I can think of to say is people must continue to find a way to make the truth known and have it broadcast

  8. These keep it in the ground people think fossil fuels are only used for energy. Wind or solar energy may decrease fossil fuel use but it won’t end it. They think we can grow hemp to replace things made out of oil and natural gas. It sounds nice and makes them feel all fuzzy inside to think about it but we’d have no place to grow food crops then. Plus hemp doesn’t yield much oil.

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