American Gas Association

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Organisation Score
Washington, United States
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Climate Lobbying Overview: The American Gas Association (AGA) is engaging with climate change policy with mostly negative positions. In recent years, the association’s engagement has centered on pre-empting electrification mandates and supporting fossil fuel infrastructure.

Top-line Messaging on Climate Policy: AGA appears to have mostly negative top-line messaging on climate policy, with statements from AGA leadership focused on promoting the role of fossil gas. The CEO of American Gas Association, Karen Harbert, formerly served as head of the US Chamber of Commerce’s Global Energy Institute. After joining AGA in April 2019, Harbert was outspoken against the US Green New Deal, arguing in July that the proposal does a “disservice” to the climate conversation given its extremely "unrealistic" goals for renewable energy. In an October 2021 NPR piece, Harbert seems to support President Biden’s goal of a net-zero emissions economy by 2050 with strong caveats around the need for fossil gas to remain in the energy mix. AGA shows general support for climate regulation in its January 2020 Climate Change Position Statement, with the clear qualification that fossil gas is included in and supported by any policy effort. However, the association appears to prefer voluntary, market-led efforts to reduce emissions: in January 2020, for example, a post on its organizational blog “True Blue Natural Gas” argued that technological innovation and energy efficiency will drive emissions reductions in line with the Paris Climate Agreement, making efforts such as a carbon tax and policy-driven electrification unnecessary.

Engagement with Climate-Related Policy:AGA has engaged with mostly negative positions on climate-related policies in the US, including federal methane policy and state and federal energy efficiency standards. In September 2021, AGA sent a joint letter to the Senate and House Majority and Minority Leaders in which the association asked for the policymakers to weaken or eliminate the proposed methane fee in the Build Back Better Act. AGA also filed comments to the U.S. Department of Transportation in May 2021 which, together with the American Petroleum Institute and other associations, advocated for less ambitious regulations on methane leaks. AGA did not take a stance on the EPA’s proposed rollback of methane standards in its November 2019 regulatory comments, although in the same year Harbert pointed to strict methane regulations as one example of “draconian” policy measures to regulate the oil and gas industry.

In March 2021, AGA was reported as supporting the International Code Council decision to effectively block local governments from voting on future energy-efficiency building codes. In May 2021, AGA submitted joint comments to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in opposition to setting more stringent energy conservation standards for gas boilers. AGA submitted additional comments to the DOE that same month advocating for minimum energy efficiency standards that preserved “consumers’ choice to use clean and economical natural gas.” In August 2021, E&E News detailed how AGA did not support revoking the Trump administration interpretative rule that limited energy efficiency standards for furnaces and water heaters. In October 2021, NPR reported on AGA’s opposition to the California 2022 Building Energy Efficiency Standards for gas stoves. Previous comments to the DOE in 2019 highlight the need for industry consultations in the development of energy efficiency policy, ensuring that any resulting policy does not divert consumer choice from fossil gas.

AGA has not taken a stance on a federal carbon tax or cap-and-trade, though in December 2019 Utility Dive described Harbert’s opposition to “one size fits all” climate policies in response to the Natural Gas Supply Association’s public support for a carbon price to replace existing GHG regulations. In June 2019, AGA commended the Affordable Clean Energy rule as a replacement to the Clean Power Plan given the flexibility afforded to individual states through the lack of mandates.

Positioning on Energy Transition: AGA supports a permanent role for fossil gas in the energy mix, with the New York Times reporting CEO Harbert as stating in June 2019 that fossil gas remains “foundational in our energy landscape”. In October 2021, the Houston Chronicle reported on Harbert’s support for the inclusion of fossil gas in the Biden administration reconciliation bill. In February 2020, AGA wrote a joint letter to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce in defense of the Natural Gas Act as a roadmap for increasing fossil gas infrastructure. In June 2020, the New York Times reported on AGA’s strong support for the Trump administration EPA rule limiting the ability of states to ban fossil fuel projects. In August 2019, the association lobbied for reforms to the National Environmental Policy Act that would remove cumulative greenhouse gas emissions from consideration in impact assessments, among other changes; more recently, in June 2021, AGA submitted joint comments to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget in opposition to using the social cost of GHGs in National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analyses for infrastructure project approval. In a July 2020 report titled “Benefits to the Economy through the Direct Use of Natural Gas,” AGA touted the economic growth, jobs, and individual savings resulting from increased use of fossil gas in the energy mix, a position that appears strongly misaligned from IPCC advice to phase out unabated fossil fuels, including fossil gas.

AGA also appears to be leading a campaign against building electrification mandates on the state and local level, reportedly organizing since before the first local fossil gas ban in Berkeley in 2019. In March 2021, CEO Karen Harbert strongly opposed proposals to ban fossil gas hookups for new residential buildings, calling the idea "dead wrong." E&E News subsequently published a piece describing how Energy Solutions Center, a trade group with apparent links to AGA, ran a workshop in November 2020 to coordinate opposition to building electrification mandates. In September 2020, S&P Global reported that utilities were using model legislation developed by AGA to introduce bills to preempt state bans on fossil gas use in buildings. As of November 2021, 20 states in the US have successfully passed these preemption bills. In October 2021, NPR reported on AGA’s campaign to promote fossil gas stoves.

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