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Gas Companies Want Ratepayers to Foot the Bill for Their Lobbyists

As if the cost for natural gas isn’t high enough—Southwest Gas (SWG) is currently requesting a 11.5 percent increase from the Arizona Corporation Commission—now we discover that the Las Vegas-headquartered gas company is looking to charge customers for the cost of their lobbying efforts in Washington, D.C.

According to the Energy and Policy Institute, SWG and gas companies across the country are looking to ratepayers to foot the bill for membership dues to trade associations and lobbying groups like the American Gas Association (AGA). In one example, SWG is asking that customers pay $664,596 in AGA dues for 2021, the Energy and Policy Institute writes.

The Center for Biological Diversity, a PSR partner, asked FERC—the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission—for an inquiry into the move by the gas utilities. CBD is also collecting petition signatures. Please sign!

Emissions from natural gas consumption represent 79% of the direct fossil fuel CO2 emissions from the residential and commercial sectors in 2020.

Utilities Beg to Differ

Gas Leaks, an industry watchdog, reports that approximately 70 million people could end up paying for “AGA’s army of lobbyists and misleading advertising every month, without ever knowing it.”

Referring to a report from NPR, Gas Leaks writes that AGA has helped “push state bills that strip local cities of the ability to require new buildings be built with all-electric appliances,” a move that helps reduce fossil fuel use. More than 20 states have passed “preemption” laws that keep American families dependent on “natural” (methane) gas.

Those 20 states include Arizona, where AGA coordinated efforts to oppose electrification through passage of HB 2686, which prevents cities and towns from “passing codes or ordinances to restrict a utility provider’s service.”

In other words, if the City of Tucson wanted to reduce carbon emissions and protect the health of residents by banning gas appliances in new housing or commercial real estate, the answer from the state is “no.”

RESOURCES

Learn more in this article from Route 55“No cities in Arizona have banned gas stoves or other residential uses of natural gas. The state wants to keep it that way.”

Gas Leaks, an industry watchdog, has released a short video and blog post highlighting gas utility contributions to the American Gas Association (AGA).