Ohio Lawmakers Gaslight Their Constituents into Believing Natural Gas is ‘Green Energy’

Spoiler Alert: Dark Money Played a Major Role in Gaslighting the Public

“It’s green. It’s clean. And it’s abundant right under our feet, right here in Ohio,” Rep. Troy Balderson (R-Ohio) wrote in an opinion piece in the Columbus Dispatch.

Through a public records request, the Energy and Policy Institute, a group that advocates for renewable energy, obtained documents that clearly show the Empowerment Alliance, a dark money group with ties to the gas industry, helped Ohio lawmakers push the narrative that the fuel is clean. The American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, another anonymously funded group, assisted in the effort.

ALEC — a network of state lawmakers, businesses and conservative donors — circulated proposed legislation for Ohio lawmakers and has urged other states to follow suit.

“What the emails reveal is just how closely Ohio lawmakers coordinated with a natural gas industry group on the new law that misleadingly defines methane gas as green energy, as the first step of a plan to introduce similar legislation in multiple states,” said Dave Anderson, policy and communications manager for the Energy and Policy Institute.

Ohio’s use of the term, natural gas, also brings up a linguistic debate that fuels the GQP’s latest ‘faux outrage,’ gas stoves. Climate advocates and environmentalists have asked politicians and journalists to refrain from using the term and call the gas what it really is, “methane gas,” since its primary component is a powerful planet-warming pollutant.

***For the purpose of this discussion, I have used the term, natural gas, since we are more familiar with it.

The documents obtained also included emails from Tom Rastin, who leads the Empowerment Alliance with his wife, Karen Buchwald Wright, to Ohio state Sens. George Lang (R) and Mark Romanchuk (R). “We are on the right track with natural gas is green energy.”

According to FEC filings, Tom and Karen Rastin are executives at Ariel Corporation, a manufacturer of natural gas compressors. They are also ‘bigly’ Republican donors who have who have dined with TFG and spent more than $1 million supporting Ohio Republicans in the 2022 election.

ALEC is known for drafting and disseminating “model” state legislation that tends to advance conservative, pro-business priorities. Several high-profile corporate members, however, have cut ties with the group over what they see as its opposition to climate action, including Google, BP and Facebook.

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