Several weeks ago a new advertising campaign emerged in a number of publications, including the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and political journals such as The Hill and Roll Call, under the title “Face It, Coal is Filthy.” The ads blasted the use of coal as an energy source, suggesting that coal is incompatible with climate change legislation. The sponsor of the ads was not immediately apparent, but it was soon uncovered that independent natural gas producer Chesapeake Energy was the chief sponsor. This enraged a number of key policymakers from coal-producing states, who suggested that the natural gas industry was trying to trash coal publicly in order to benefit natural gas demand. Chesapeake appears to have acted with little to no input from any others in the industry; nonetheless, the entire natural gas industry was blamed for the campaign. Given the fact that natural gas was already being questioned in Congress as a reliable fuel due to supply and price volatility concerns, this ill-advised attempt to promote natural gas by bashing coal has created additional problems for the natural gas industry in Congress.
The Natural Gas Council sent a letter to Congress on April 27 making it clear that this ad campaign was not endorsed by the industry. The letter also made it clear that the natural gas industry is not, on the whole, anti-coal. The initial response from Congressional recipients of the NGC letter has been positive. INGAA also plans on discussing this issue with policymakers during our May “fly-in” meetings in order to reinforce the message that we do not endorse the message and tactics behind the recent ads.