‘Clean Skies’ Front Group Pushes Natural Gas Subsidies

The American Clean Skies Foundation, a greenwashing front group for natural gas giant Chesapeake Energy, is celebrating its “newly renovated offices and studios” on Capitol Hill. And you’re invited:

American Clean Skies Foundation

ACSF is selling the message that natural gas, also known as methane, is “clean energy” on its 24-7 Internet video station, CleanSkies.TV. Launched on Earth Day, CleanSkies.TV features professional reporters interviewing politicians, energy analysts, and environmentalists on topical issues — surrounded by advertisements for natural gas. In an email interview with the Wonk Room, Sierra Club press secretary David Willett praised ACSF for “going out of their way to have the environmentalist perspective represented.” CleanSkies.TV prominently presents Sierra Club videos and documentaries in a non-exclusive deal. “If natural gas wants to foot the bill to host our completely unedited message,” explains Willett, “that’s fine with us.”

Since June 8, ACSF has been producing “Clean Skies Sunday,” a weekly infomercial in the guise of an energy news program that runs on WJLA-TV, the Washington DC ABC affiliate.

Billionaire ACSF founder and Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon is now using the popularity of the Pickens Plan to promote taxpayer subsidies for compressed natural gas for cars, in a joint campaign with T. Boone Pickens called CNG Now. McClendon and Pickens are making this push as California considers Proposition 10 to subsidize CNG vehicles.

The Conservation Report’s Buck Denton responds:

Undoubtedly, wind power and natural gas should be part of the energy mix of the future, but natural gas shouldn’t be a solution at the expense of cleaner renewable resources, and natural gas shouldn’t be wasted on vehicles when more efficient and cleaner technologies exist. Furthermore, cleaner gasoline engines and the almost similar greenhouse gas emissions between natural gas and diesel vehicles are factors that make an aggressive push towards natural gas seem ridiculous from a policy standpoint (more information regarding these claims can be found here).

Natural gas, like all other fossil fuels, comes with a huge health and environmental footprint, from drilling to burning. The natural gas industry is responsible for 18.6% of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Praising natural gas for being less cancerous and less polluting than coal should only underscore how dirty a fuel coal is — not promote the false impression that natural gas is “clean.”

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