When I saw this ad on TV in Philadelphia last week, it immediately caught my eye. I was taping some of the rabid ads between the Fetterman and Oz campaigns and this happened to come on right between them. The first image is of a hurricane from space and the first words on the screen and spoken “Severe Weather”. That got my attention! Could this be a climate ad? In the midst of this chaotic campaign environment leading up to the mid-term elections next week?
The voice over of the ad is as follows:
“Severe weather, wars, and supply chain problems…when it comes to skyrocketing energy prices there’s a lot we can’t control, and some things we can. The best way to bring down utility costs for everyday consumers is to produce more natural gas here in America. And by exporting it to other countries, we’ll create thousand of union jobs in Pennsylvania while boosting our energy security nationally. American natural gas, powering our lives, protecting our planet”
The final images on screen match the voice over:
A lot to ‘unpack’ as they say.
Of course, the first thing we wanted to know: who is this intrepid organization “Americans for Climate Solutions”? And who is paying for these ads in the midst of the most expensive political ad season ever in Pennsylvania and nationwide.
And the name of the org?! C’mon, this is almost up there with the Global Climate Coalition. Michael Mann caught the ad in Pennsylvania and posted on Twitter “Orwell Lives” And the final tag line, “Protecting Our Planet” is dubious at best, based on all we know about the impact of methane, fracking, etc.
To not bury the lede, we think this is a union play, or maybe fossil money rolling through a union to a firm, all aimed ultimately at pushing a proposed pipeline and gas export facility just south of Philadelphia in Chester, PA. The mention of exporting gas in the ad itself and a visual of a June 2022 Philadelphia Inquirer headline in the ad is another giveaway:
This line in the ad really needs to be called out: “…and by exporting it to other countries, we’ll create thousand of union jobs in Pennsylvania while boosting our energy security nationally.” How does exporting fuels to other countries boost our national energy security?
There is a fair bit of cash behind this, with untraceable roots. Tips on who is paying are welcome. We have reached out to the entities named below for comment and with questions and will update this piece as the reply.
A little digging by our intrepid researchers on Americans for Climate Solutions found:
- No website for the organization
- No YouTube channel
- Almost no mention on Twitter
- No Facebook or Google ads
- No Facebook page to be found
- Basically nothing on Google
- Opencorporates page: Says it is a nonprofit incorporated on Oct. 11, 2022. (no other info)
- The Federal Communications Commission logs ad spending and has the most useful data on this campaign, including ad spending and specifics for WCAU and WPVI, two popular channels broadcasting over the airwaves in the Philadelphia region. The ads are also being run on cable on CNN, MSNBC and other stations. The running tally of ad buys can be accessed on the FCC website here
- The have spent quite a bit of money in a few weeks according to the forms filed with FCC. Its hard to tally, looks like upwards of $250,000 sorting through the various contracts and revisions of those ad buys. The price tag some of these ads is steep: $12,500 for 30 seconds during the Channel 10 5pm evening news for example.
The FCC documents also have some names and addresses
- The ads were placed and possibly produced by an agency name is GPS Impact, based in Des Moines, Iowa.
- here are a slate of ads GPS Impact has produced lately https://gpsimpact.com/service/media-production/
- This firm appears to generally work for Democratic candidates, like here for Dick Durban campaign hitting his opponent on renewables and climate. They did an attempt at comedy here with an ad Tom Wolf buys Fetterman a Tie and lots of ads on environmental issues, energy and clean water.
- GPS Impact’s YouTube channel
- Groundswell FEC Disbursements
- The address listed for Americans for Climate Solutions on FCC site is 500 N. 3rd Street, Harrisburg, PA 17101, which looks like a multi unit office building but no current tenants could be verified.
- Michael D. Brunelle is listed as the contact on the FCC forms and is currently a Managing Director, GSL Government Consulting.
- GSL Government Consulting appears to be an arm of Stevens and Lee law firm, as shown on their web page.
- GSL Public Affairs and Communications, LLC filed a lobbying report that includes UA/Steamfitters Union Local 420 and LIUNA Mid-Atlantic Regional Organizing Coalition along with the American Recyclable Plastic Bag Alliance, (and some good guys like the Rodale Institute, one of the oldest organic agriculture institutions in the country.)
- Ryan McAdams, Gary Andress, Dave Lentz are the names on the document filed with FCC for Americans for Climate Solutions
All three are listed on the leadership of UA/Steamfitters Local 420
and lastly, the Steamfitters Local 420 has expenditures to GSL listed in recent campaign financial findings.
We reached out to both GPSImpact and GSL Consulting to ask some questions. Will update this piece as we get answers.