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Activist Bill McKibben Arrested Protesting Exxon Climate Change Coverup

Climate activist Bill McKibben was arrested in Burlington Thursday afternoon after a brief protest at a downtown Mobil station.

McKibben, who was arrested without incident for trespassing, said he was trying to raise awareness – not for climate change, but for a newspaper series.

"There have been a series of remarkable newspaper stories in the last two weeks about Exxon, proving that Exxon knew everything there was to know about climate change 30, 20, 15 years ago, and simply lied about it,” he said.

The Los Angeles Times published a story October 9 that said Exxon publicly raised doubts about climate change even as it was fully aware of the truth of the issue and even worked climate change into Arctic drilling plans.

McKibben said the new information shows the need for the state of Vermont and institutions like the University of Vermont to distance themselves from the fossil fuel industry through divestment – a move he said is overdue.

“Vermont kind of rests on its green laurels some,” he said, “but they’re getting a little wilted.”

Update 6:42 p.m. ExxonMobil spokesman Alan Jeffers, in an email to VPR, said the news reports McKibben was promoting with his protest are inaccurate.

"We completely reject his inaccurate allegations that we suppressed climate science," Jeffers wrote. "The media reports he is citing are inaccurate distortions of ExxonMobil’s more than 30-year history of climate research that was conducted publicly and in conjunction with the Department of Energy, academics and the UN International Panel on Climate Change."

ExxonMobil published a blog post Thursday responding to the recent media reports.