Natural Gas lobby in bed with the Sierra Club?

posted at 6:40 pm on February 4, 2012 by Jazz Shaw

File this one under, “DOH! What were they thinking?

News broke this week, highlighted at the Daily Caller, that Chesapeake Energy, largely through CEO Aubrey McClendon, donated $26M to environmental group Sierra Club to run down the coal industry.

A Time magazine blogger reported Thursday that the Sierra Club, America’s oldest and most august environmental organization, accepted millions of dollars in donations from one of the nation’s biggest natural gas-drilling companies for a program lambasting coal-fired power plants as environmental evildoers.

The total take for John Muir’s conservation group? A whopping $26 million over four years from Chesapeake Energy and its subsidiaries, mostly through Chesapeake CEO Aubrey McClendon.

The news rocked the environmental movement, sent the Sierra Club headlong into explanation mode, angered coal companies that the organization targeted with natural gas money, and had free-market advocates shaking their heads.

First of all, as has been published here many times, I’m frequently in touch with Chesapeake and have supported their work in developing America’s natural gas resources. (Just to get the disclosure thing out of the way early on.) But even with that said, I have no idea how this situation came to be. I contacted the company and was referred to Jim Gipson of their communications group who provided Hot Air with the following statement:

Back in 2007, Chesapeake and the Sierra Club had a shared interest in moving our nation toward a clean energy future based on the expanded use of natural gas, especially in the power sector. We mutually agreed in 2010 to end our funding.

Over the years, Chesapeake has been proud to support a number of organizations that share our interest in clean air and agree that America’s abundant supplies of clean natural gas represent the most affordable, available and scalable fuel to power a more prosperous and environmentally responsible future for our country.

I’m sorry, but as much as I support these guys, this seems like a tone deaf thing to do. I was on the phone with another person familiar with the players here – who asked not to be named- who gave me a much more reasonable answer, paraphrasing some recent political candidates.

Hey… this ain’t bean bag.

See… I could at least respect that. NG competes with coal, and you do what you need to do in order to gain an edge in a very competitive market. But jumping in bed with the Sierra Club? That leads to big problems, mostly because our recent success in natural gas exploration relies largely on fracking and other developing technologies. The Sierra club has been All Hands On Deck against such things.

The Fracking Regulatory Action Center (or FRAC tracker) is a resource for activists to help secure strong safeguards for fracking. It tracks state efforts to update their rules to stay ahead of the fracking boom, and to blunt its most dangerous effects. It also collects a growing library of technical comments and reports on these rules, which activists can use in their own work.

Their allies have also been up in arms trying to stop us from developing domestic resources.

And how as late as Tuesday, Sierra Club tried to mislead it’s own members about the money.

According to the Time report, between 2007 and 2010 the Sierra Club accepted over $25 million in donations from the gas industry, mostly from Aubrey McClendon, CEO of Chesapeake Energy – one of the biggest gas drilling companies in the U.S. and a firm heavily involved in fracking.

Time reported that the group ended its relationship with Chesapeake in 2010 – and the Club says it turned its back on an additional $30 million in promised donations.

Waiting to speak with Brune.

And ask him what he meant by:

“We do not and will not take any money from Chesapeake or any other gas company.”

This entire affair has the Greens up in arms against the Sierra Club and domestic energy supporters wondering why Chesapeake would get in bed with these guys, beyond trying to leverage a bit of advantage over the coal industry. And… AGAIN… we can understand why any group in a capitalist society would want to get a leg up on a competitor. As was noted… this ain’t beanbag. They want to make a profit and coal is a competitor. But… the Sierra Club? These folks aren’t anyone’s friends in the energy community. Poor move, guys. And a huge waste of money. How much of that $26m went into anti-fracking advertisements?


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Frack em!

Bmore on February 4, 2012 at 6:42 PM

Just thinking about this gives me HotGas!

thedevilinside on February 4, 2012 at 6:44 PM

I say that it is the essence of the American Dream to waste your money in any way you see fit.

Mord on February 4, 2012 at 6:46 PM

I spend the majority of my money on booze and women, the rest I just wasted.

Mord on February 4, 2012 at 6:47 PM

S L U T S !

KOOLAID2 on February 4, 2012 at 6:47 PM

KOOLAID2 on February 4, 2012 at 6:47 PM

Eh, see that?

Bmore on February 4, 2012 at 6:49 PM

Coal Miner’s butt-hurt!

KOOLAID2 on February 4, 2012 at 6:53 PM

Just thinking about this gives me HotGas!

thedevilinside on February 4, 2012 at 6:44 PM

Is it natural?

backwoods conservative on February 4, 2012 at 6:53 PM

The natural gas industry should spend some of their money expanding service to the 5 million homes still heating with oil. The incentive to switch is huge but the service territories are not being expanded.

KW64 on February 4, 2012 at 6:59 PM

should read 8 million homes.

KW64 on February 4, 2012 at 7:01 PM

Anything that gives the Greenies gas can’t be all bad.

petefrt on February 4, 2012 at 7:11 PM

If you listen to Marxist environmentalist Sierra Club, then you’re a FOOL!

Kini on February 4, 2012 at 7:14 PM

As was noted… this ain’t beanbag.

Nope, it’s kick yourself in the beanbag.

forest on February 4, 2012 at 7:17 PM

The coal fired in the north east are going to be shutdown, they cannot scrub the air enough to meet new EPA rules. The greenies love this, is Zero’s EPA in bed with the natural gas companies to?

angrymike on February 4, 2012 at 7:24 PM

KOOLAID2
Hey someone left you a compliment on the last Jazz thread.

Bmore on February 4, 2012 at 7:26 PM

KOOLAID2
Hey someone left you a compliment on the last Jazz thread.

Bmore on February 4, 2012 at 7:26 PM

Oh oh! Something wrong with them?
They a Democrat, or something?
I’m not in trouble for that comment yesterday about lighting the tampon fuse, am I? (I think I offended a few)…
Heck, it’s a commercial product seen by children on TV, and my coach had them handy for nose bleeds, if we bumped heads in a game!

KOOLAID2 on February 4, 2012 at 7:38 PM

Well,well,well.Yesterday PP and today this.”It’s gettin better all the time.”The Beatles

docflash on February 4, 2012 at 7:40 PM

Hmmm, did the gas industry sandbag the Sierra club?

I wonder if Chesapeake can demand their money back after helping the enviro wackadoddles hang themselves.

Speakup on February 4, 2012 at 7:40 PM

KOOLAID2 on February 4, 2012 at 7:38 PM

No, not that, although………….

Bmore on February 4, 2012 at 7:42 PM

Only one deduction…..Sierra is working for OPEC like the rest
of the enviros, or watermelons.

lilium479 on February 4, 2012 at 7:46 PM

Sounds like protection money to me. . . . .

Not so much money for the Sierra Club to try to destroy the coal industry, but money so the Sierra Club will not try to destroy fracking and the natural gas industry.

Narniaman on February 4, 2012 at 8:09 PM

And… AGAIN… we can understand why any group in a capitalist society would want to get a leg up on a competitor. As was noted… this ain’t beanbag.

Ya, we know why they did it – and its within the rules. But this just goes to show, once again, why the government needs to get out of the way with all of these regulations.

If the government wasnt so invloved in picking and choosing this stuff by regulating/taxing/ or tax braking, then there would be little reason for chesapeak to throw 26 million at the sierra club.

Regulations under the guise of “good”, to further the ventures of other competting companies.

kage on February 4, 2012 at 8:17 PM

Replace Chesapeake Energy with Warren Buffet and the Sierra Club with Obama and his decision on Keystone XL snaps into focus.

itsspideyman on February 4, 2012 at 8:44 PM

as we all know lenin alleged said something like this: when we are ready to hang the capitalists, they will sell us the rope.

somehow, i’ve been thinking about that quote for a while now

r keller on February 4, 2012 at 8:51 PM

Language lesson for the day — past indicative tenses.

“We do not and will not take any money from Chesapeake or any other gas company.”

Completely true. Present indicative tense, future indicative tense, but no past indicative tense.

He would be lying if he said

“We have not and will not take any money from Chesapeake or any other gas company.”

That’s replacing the present tense with the past perfect tense — actions started in the past and continuing up through the present.

“Have” was one of President Clinton’s favorite words — as in

I have never had sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky. I’ve never had an affair with her.

President Clinton uses here the past pluperfect — action started in the past and completed in the past. Certainly he would not want to use either the present tense or the past perfect, for then the interviewer would look down and see the dropped trousers and Monica latched on and know that Mr. Clinton was lying.

One tense is not covered here — the imperfect indicative. As in “And how as late as Tuesday, Sierra Club tried was trying to mislead it’s own members about the money.”

That’s action started, continued, and then completed completed in the past.

Now you know how to use temporal falsehood properly.

unclesmrgol on February 4, 2012 at 9:02 PM

Back when she was PM, Lady Thatcher enlisted the “help” of UK environmental groups (including the local Greenpeace cell) against the British coal industry. She wanted to break the power of the Trade Unions Congress, and considered the coal mining union a good place to start. She also wanted to move the UK to nuclear and hydroelectric (tide) power, for energy independence sake, backstopping North Sea oil.

The enviros happily helped her go for the coal mining concerns. And then, when she launched the nuclear/tide initiative, turned on her like rabid weasels and (in concert with first Labour and then “New Labour”) used the same sort of legal maneuvers and scare tactics they’ve used over here to prevent any new nuclear plants or hydro dams being built for nearly four decades. The result? No nuclear plants, no tide power, no nothing.

When she asked them why, they told her that as far as they were concerned, any power source threatened “Holy Mother Gaia”, and all must be done away with. Period. Dot.

The moral being that making deals with fanatics gets you nothing but a knife in the back. Plus them laughing their backsides off at you for being dumb enough to believe that they would ever compromise their pristine, Utopian vision in the name of… reality.

If the LNG industry thinks they can “co-opt” the Sierra Club like this, they might want to talk to Lady Thatcher’s former staffers first.

In fact, they should have done it before cutting the first check.

clear ether

eon

eon on February 4, 2012 at 9:22 PM

other developing technologies

What is a developing technology? Fracking has been around for forty years. I am sure it changes, but so does everything else.

Fifty years ago I was a Sierra Club member. At that time it was a hiking and climbing club. I understand they have banned climbing. Now it is almost totally political.

burt on February 4, 2012 at 9:31 PM

How much of that $26m went into anti-fracking advertisements?

Or office furnitiure.

Years ago, I heard it was a joke among the K Street lobby set that the very fanciest offices on all of K Street belonged to the Sierra Club.

eeyore on February 4, 2012 at 9:40 PM

Stuck on stupid. After the last three years, we now know that CEOs, hard working and well educated, often very talented, still do stupid things. It’s that God complex thingy.

2ndMAW68 on February 4, 2012 at 9:44 PM

Don’t lay down with dogs

Yeah, and don’t even lie down with them…

Tzetzes on February 4, 2012 at 9:46 PM

I don’t see what the big deal is, this fits with Sierra Club’s mission. It doesn’t spill, you don’t clear earth to get it, less emissions than other options. I don’t see the conflict. Yes they are an enviro group, but more about conservation than the fanatical nothing-but-tofu orgs. Yet the Club has a large constituency, influence, and history.

Now I don’t know if they had anything to do with anti-frack ads, but they would most likely be ill informed in that case.

John Kettlewell on February 4, 2012 at 10:13 PM

I don’t see what the big deal is, this fits with Sierra Club’s mission.

You bet it is, to perpetuate the Sierra Club and make money for the officers of the company.

Anyone who thinks enviromentalism(sic) is other than a money making proposition is uh drinking the koolaid.

old school on February 4, 2012 at 10:42 PM

John Kettlewell on February 4, 2012 at 10:13 PM

For the AGW crowd it doesn’t make a difference

Regardless of the configuration of the hydrocarbon every atom of Carbon put in produces a CO2 molecule. The Sierra Club isn’t really going to accept Natural Gas any more than they do petroleum.

chemman on February 4, 2012 at 10:55 PM

The Media – who run EVERYTHING in this country – believes that THEIR ELITE STATUS and THEIR POWER to DRIVE THE POLITICAL PROCESS is what makes nature WORK CORRECTLY — NOT the Laws of Nature and Physics. Their STATUS as Born Members of The ELITE trump the Laws of Newton and Bernoulli.

Bill O’Reilly believes this – and he believes that HE is one of them!.

That is why is BENEFITS them to couch discussions of Energy Options in terms of “Good” and “Evil” rather than the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

Every moment we allow The Media to remain as it is – we DESERVE what we get.

williamg on February 4, 2012 at 11:40 PM

williamg on February 4, 2012 at 11:40 PM

right. Innumerate, lazy, sycophantic leftist. Not a good combo.

While Venice canals freeze, the left/media worry about agw

200 plus people have died from the cold…but you’re not likely to get any domestic press here

People have been found dead on the streets in some countries, while thousands have been trapped in mountain villages in Serbia. In Italy, Venice’s canals started freezing over and even Rome was dusted in snow.

The lowest temperatures recorded on the continent were in the southwest of the Czech Republic, where they dropped as low as -36.5F (-38.1C) overnight on Thursday.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/topics/weather/9061221/Britain-on-snow-alert-as-Europe-freezes-over.html

r keller on February 4, 2012 at 11:58 PM

This is absolutely typical of big business. Businesses lobby constantly for regulatory advantages, and some of those come from disadvantaging their competitors.

The answer is not more regulation, it’s less. The less of a regulatory charter we give government, the less business can lobby for.

Sure, it’s cheap and slutty of Chesapeake. But the problem lies with the “opportunities” offered by an interventionist government.

J.E. Dyer on February 5, 2012 at 12:02 AM

This is absolutely typical of big business. Businesses lobby constantly for regulatory advantages, and some of those come from disadvantaging their competitors.

The answer is not more regulation, it’s less. The less of a regulatory charter we give government, the less business can lobby for.

Sure, it’s cheap and slutty of Chesapeake. But the problem lies with the “opportunities” offered by an interventionist government.

J.E. Dyer on February 5, 2012 at 12:02 AM

Indeed. This shouldn’t actually surprise anybody at all. If businesses will engage in rent-seeking practices with a large, ever-expanding federal entity, why wouldn’t they repeat those same behaviors with other organizations who may not have their best interests at heart?

This is just the K Street equivalent of waking up with a different person than you took home the night before.

mintycrys on February 5, 2012 at 1:16 AM

Well, if Chesapeake blows themselves up over this, someone will take their place. If they manage to take a Sierra Club with them, well, that would be awesome.

Voyager on February 5, 2012 at 2:47 AM

As an oil anf gas guy, I can tell you that Chesapeake is as big a bottomless financial scam as Enron was. It is widey hated in the industry.

Wait for it to blow up sometime in the next 6-12 months. It is hemorrhaging cash due to the drop in gas prices.

It is a black eye for our industry and this may finally push it into the toilet.

TexasJew on February 5, 2012 at 3:53 AM

Can you expand on that TexasJew? I know Enron made some of its money buying short sections of power line and charging extortion rates for transmission over those lines (the rest was, of course, wizzbang financial wizzardry and fruad).

Does Chesapeake have some similar scam going?

SpikeRHSC on February 5, 2012 at 5:13 AM

As a former Chesapeake investor, I wish McClendon had devoted a lot more time to developing shareholder value than courting this den of vipers. I became convinced a couple or years or so ago that he was incompetent. He’s reacted too late to the nat gas price drop and cost shareholders untold millions. Don’t see that company ever being much more than a takeover or bankruptcy target even though Kramer still touts it and McClendon.

jw362 on February 5, 2012 at 8:55 AM

All of the big enviro groups are funded by the misled and well meaning. Now we find out they get cash from the cut throat capitalists, too. Too bad the trust fund babies don’t know that the Nature Conservancy cuts down more trees than it saves. I’m sure the SC has some scams going somewhere, too.

Kissmygrits on February 5, 2012 at 9:04 AM

The level of ignorance both in the article and these comments is amazing.

First, the time frame (2007 – 2010) was during the height of $4 and almost $5 per gallon gas. EVERYONE was talking about the need to be energy independent, which our domestic oil and natural gas resources could provide. We all know that solar, wind, etc. is at present a pipe dream, despite the millions the Obama admin have thrown at it. Natural gas is cleaner as a transportation fuel than oil, so it would seem that Chesapeake was hoping to use the oil crisis at the time to get people to think about moving the US in the direction of natural gas while enlisting the support of the Sierra Club to blunt environmental criticism of natural gas with the environmental groups. Not a bad strategy, imho, and hardly “lieing down with the dogs”. More like co-opting your critics.

And it’s been a dead issue for two years, so how is this news?

Meanwhile, while coal, petroleum and ethanol producers all enjoy signifcant levels of government subsidies, Chesapeake and other natural gas producers are also getting slammed on HotAir for trying to get the NATGAS legislation passed to incentivize the U.S. to switch to our own natural gas resources for energy. Since when was HotAir against U.S. energy independence? It would be great for all of us if NO U.S. energy producers recieved any government subsidies so that the playing field for all fuel types was even with none being given an advantage over the others. But what is the likelihood that natural gas companies would be able to successfully lobby to have subsidies taken away from other industries? Zilch. But in order to have a truly EVEN playing field against coal and ethanol producers, if those companies like Chesapeake and others can successfully lobby for the NATGAS act and it helps move America toward energy independence, why wouldn’t you want them to succeed?

Would it be preferable that none of them received subsidies? Yep. But for natural gas or any other energy source to truly be weighed on the merits, the playing field has to be level, one way or the other.

LeftCoastRefugee on February 5, 2012 at 9:29 AM

This entire affair has the Greens up in arms against the Sierra Club

What a brilliant jiu jitsu move by Chesapeake. Maybe it will take the Sierra Club’s stature in that community down a peg or two.

rogaineguy on February 5, 2012 at 9:30 AM

What a brilliant jiu jitsu move by Chesapeake. Maybe it will take the Sierra Club’s stature in that community down a peg or two.

rogaineguy on February 5, 2012 at 9:30 AM

This.

LeftCoastRefugee on February 5, 2012 at 9:40 AM

Meanwhile, while coal, petroleum and ethanol producers all enjoy signifcant levels of government subsidies,……..

LeftCoastRefugee on February 5, 2012 at 9:29 AM

Despite the constant repetition of the lie that oil companies get subsidies, saying it doesn’t make it true. Oil companies are the most heavily taxed industry in the country, and the same business tax deductions that every other industry gets are not “subsidies.” Ethanol, on the other hand, has enjoyed substantial subsidies. Until recently. And we all know about the wind and solar subsidies, they wouldn’t exist without them, except for very minor specific applications.

iurockhead on February 5, 2012 at 10:43 AM

Natural Gas competes for political existence AGAINST the ideology of the Sierra Club. The free market for energy needs everything both Natural Gas and Coal can produce. For the NG industry to pay the Sierra Club makes them the useful idiots of the anti-industrial primitives of the Neo-slavery Left.
And to think I was considering the switch to NG. I look forward to the unqualified Mea Culpa for this atrocity.

WyattsTorch on February 5, 2012 at 11:29 AM

What a shocka! An environmental group in bed with drilling companies?

It takes a drilling rig to drill for natural gas.

. Oil companies are the most heavily taxed industry in the country, and the same business tax deductions that every other industry gets are not “subsidies.”

iurockhead on February 5, 2012 at 10:43 AM

Great point. The federal gov’t taxes gasoline in California at 68 cents per gallon of gas while oil companies profits are returned to investers 401k’s, stockholders and bondholders.

dthorny on February 5, 2012 at 11:33 AM

awww gee we know the coal and oil companies would never do anything like this…

lexhamfox on February 5, 2012 at 12:04 PM

…if those companies like Chesapeake and others can successfully lobby for the NATGAS act and it helps move America toward energy independence, why wouldn’t you want them to succeed?

Because the absence of the Natural Gas Act isn’t the reason we don’t have “energy independence.”

The reason we don’t produce more oil than we use right now is the network of regulations that make it either impossible or too expensive to produce our own oil.

Coal, meanwhile, is not a counter factor to “energy independence.” It’s an enhancer. We have more coal than we know what to do with. We could as easily achieve energy independence with a mix of coal and oil as we could in any other way.

People can see through the artificial conditions created by regulation. If it’s so all-fired important to achieve “energy independence,” meaning we would stop buying 80% of our imported oil from Mexico and Canada, why not achieve it by drilling in ANWR, drilling offshore whether California and Florida want to or not, exploiting tar sands and shale oil no matter what the environmentalist lobby wants, and building MORE coal plants instead of shutting them down?

J.E. Dyer on February 5, 2012 at 12:14 PM

Energy independence… as long as there’s no competition.

madmonkphotog on February 5, 2012 at 3:39 PM

Meanwhile, while coal, petroleum and ethanol producers all enjoy signifcant levels of government subsidies,……..
LeftCoastRefugee on February 5, 2012 at 9:29 AM

Despite the constant repetition of the lie that oil companies get
subsidies, saying it doesn’t make it true. Oil companies are the most heavily taxed industry in the country, and the same business tax deductions that every other industry gets are not “subsidies.” Ethanol, on the other hand, has enjoyed substantial subsidies. Until recently. And we all know about the wind and solar subsidies, they wouldn’t exist without them, except for very minor specific applications.

iurockhead on February 5, 2012 at 10:43 AM

Gotta second your comment iurockhead – the oil industry is very capital investment intensive – it’s not cheap to do all the exploration, analysis, test drilling, production drilling, and shipping. ALL of those costs are standard deductible costs of doing business – which does NOT equal subsidy.

Have to point out that McClendon doesn’t appear very bright since the enviros view ALL hydrocarbon fuels as evil – including natural gas. While it may not emit as many other pollutants as coal, NG does emit carbon dioxide – which Obummer’s EPA and the enviro nutjobs have declared an evil “greenhouse gas” in the name of the AGW fraud.

dentarthurdent on February 5, 2012 at 5:18 PM

However, anything that drives a wedge into the middle of the enviro-wacko community is not all bad….

dentarthurdent on February 5, 2012 at 5:20 PM

Sierra Club are whores…when the gill net initiative, in California, was being ramped up decades ago, I was one of the leaders against gill netting…the Sierra Club took a stand, against us because the “other side” had donated so much money to them, the couldn’t “turn their back on them” as was stated by the head guys. Even though the membership (and most of the leadership) was firmly behind us, they would consider us if we matched the donations.
Needless to say words of “understanding” did not flow from us. And in the news papers, whom they had much more control of (LAT and SF Chron.) they stated they were taking a “non-stand”. But their staff allocations all went to the gill-netters.
We won without them, soundly, and learned that the Sierra Club could care less about the environment.

right2bright on February 6, 2012 at 8:39 AM