APGA represents publicly owned gas utilities and is a prominent voice against electrification. It’s funding is mostly derived from membership dues from municipalities, which means customers of city-owned gas utilities fund the bulk of APGAs efforts via their monthly bills.
APGA’s Direct Use Task Group (DUTG) steers the organization’s anti-electrification efforts, which includes federal lobbying, building codes and standards advocacy and a pricey marketing effort geared at millennials called “Gas Genius.” Despite APGA representing publicly owned gas companies, DUTG participants include several investor-owned utilities (IOUs): SoCalGas, Spire Energy, and Chesapeake Utilities. According to internal records, non-members (IOUs) are projected to contribute $150,000 to DUTG in 2020. Spire and SoCalgas each pledged $50,000 to DUTG efforts for its 2018 budget, according to a footnote in the September 2017 APGA Board Book.
The Media and Public Outreach Committee (MPOC) is a communications effort spun out of DUTG and launched in 2019 by APGA “with a mission to develop, coordinate and support APGA’s overarching communications and messaging on the benefits of direct use…” In a planning document advocating for the creation of the MPOC, an APGA staffer writes: “If we agree that winning the communications war is essential to our survival as an economically viable segment of the energy industry going forward, then it is essential to develop a strategic effort to win this war.” APGA approved a $200,000 contract with Alexandria, VA based Reservoir Communications Group to implement its MPOC strategy in 2020.
Between DUTG and MPOC, APGA is allocating over a half million dollars in 2020 to fight electrification. Below you will find a sample of documents and quotes from thousands of pages of records obtained by public records requests to publicly owned utilities.
MPOC’s Planning Document and Board Resolution
APGA consistently uses aggressive language to attack proponents of electrification and climate solutions. In the following excerpt, APGA describes electrification advocates as “misdirected and extreme environmentalists”
MPOC planning proposal suggests coordination with right-wing groups and proposes ghost writing articles to improving the odds of getting Op-Eds published:
MPOC contract with Reservoir Communications Group
DUTG used a platform called Basecamp to coordinate its messaging efforts to fight electrification and promote gas usage. Below are a few excerpts:
Spire Energy employee discusses correspondence with Department of Energy employee
Mark Krebs, a DUTG participant and employee of investor-owned Spire Energy, describes a tense relationship with a political appointee in DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy.
He goes on to attack Former Secretary of Energy Rick Perry
APGA staff tried to delete the thread, but it was saved in participants’ inboxes.
APGA advocates for unhealthy and inefficient gas furnaces
APGA’s policy director, Daniel Lapato wrote in 2018 that he believes “separate product classes is one of the most important things we need to accomplish over the next 2 years.” Lapato is advocating for the Department of Energy (DOE) to write rules that would regulate condensing and non-condensing furnaces as separate product classes, which would protect the latter from being banned from marketplaces for its inefficient performance. Energy efficiency advocates decry this strategy as an effort to protect furnaces with poor efficiency ratings.
In response to the threat of electrification, APGA’s Direct Use Task Force (DUTG) hired Porter Novelli in September 2017 to develop a campaign to promote the direct use of natural gas. In late 2018, the name of the project, Gas Genius, emerged and APGA posted a style guide on its website. The campaign takes aim at prospective millennial homebuyers who might be choosing between gas or electric appliances. Porter Novelli calls the campaign “refreshing, sassy and right on target with this target audience.” The total expense of the project exceeds a half million dollars.
While gas industry employees are quick to claim that natural gas is a climate solution because of its supposedly low carbon intensity, numerous documents point to climate skepticism in the industry. Former Executive Director of APGA, Bert Kalish, is even praised as a climate “skeptic” by a prominent climate denier Joseph Bast, CEO of the Heartland Institute.
A DUTG thread also shows multiple participants share skeptical views on climate change.
The American Gas Association, the American Public Gas Association, and the Interstate Gas Association co-hosted an employee advocacy training in late September 2018. The multi-day training was run by a PR firm DDC Public Affairs, which has ties to the tobacco and fossil fuel industries.
The conference was called NG2018 and was promoted as a way for the gas industry to combat “Keep It In the Ground” activists. Climate Investigations Center obtained the NG2018 training manual through a public records request. A budget memo in APGA’s July 2018 Board book indicates the price tag of the program was at least $100,000.
- APGA Genius Campaign Phase 4 Planning
- APGA Basecamp 2017
- APGA Basecamp 2018
- NG2018 Conference
- APGA Reservoir Proposals October 2019
- 2019 Fall APGA Board Book
- 2019 Annual Conference APGA Board Book
- 2019 Winter APGA Board Book
- 2018 Annual Conference APGA Board Book
- 2018 Spring APGA Board Book
- 2018 Winter APGA Board Book
- 2017 Fall APGA Board Book
- 2017 Annual Conference APGA Board Book
- 2017 Spring APGA Board Book
- 2018 APGA Powerpoints