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The Sierra Club received millions in donations from the natural gas industry


Simon

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The Sierra Club, one of the biggest environmental organizations in the US, received millions in donations from lobbyists in the gas industry for their campaigns against coal.

The question is, when will they give the money back? In a way they've already have. Before 2011-2012, around the time when they got millions in donations from the gas industry, the Sierra Club had a rather lax position against natural gas. The environmental NGO's stance on natural gas, in comparison to coalbed methane, was to promote regulation instead of calling for a total ban on the controversial energy source. They saw natural gas as "a flawed but necessary transition fuel to a clean energy future."

So in a way the gas lobbyist had successfully shifted the criticism, from environmental NGO's, away from the fossil fuel industry as a whole and instead managed to direct the focus primarily on the coal industry. At the same time the gas lobbyist pushed the bullshit idea of natural gas as the quick and pain-free solution to all of our energy and climate related problems in Washington.

This tactic, to divert attention away from the gas industry while at the same time pushing the idea of natural gas as a climate friendly energy source for our politicians, has clearly been successful for Chesapeake Energy. In his recent state of the union, Barack Obama said that with natural gas "we don't have to choose between our environment and our economy" while promising that it will "create jobs and power trucks and factories" in a "cleaner and cheaper" way.

So now Obama as well as a large portion of the American public is supporting natural gas as a solution to the economic and climate crisis. And all this could happen because the mainstream environmental movement failed to go on the offensive against all sectors of the fossil fuel industry.

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Well, I have mixed feelings about this. First, I live in Pennsylvania, so I'm acutely aware of what mountain removal mining, strip mining, etc. has done to our environment. Likewise, I'm seeing the same thing happen again drilling in the Marcellus Shale. We need to move away from these forms of energy in favor of sustainable energy.

With that said, in campaigns and elections, we have saying that "Republican money spends just as good as Democratic money." Depending upon the outcomes, taking millions of dollars from Natural Gas to combat coal could have been a good strategic bet particularly considering that the Sierra Club has taken a much stronger line against natural gas lately. They might have had their cake and ate it too with regards to fossil fuels in this way.

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