Chloe Zilliac, Chloe.Zilliac@sunstonestrategies.org, 650.644.8259
SEATTLE, WA — Climate and health organizations submitted letters today to the CEOs of the Washington-based Puget Sound Energy (PSE) and Avista Utilities urging them to reconsider their membership with American Gas Association (AGA). The trade association is notorious for obstructing climate policy and spreading misinformation on the health risks from methane gas.
“AGA is one of the most aggressive anti-climate trade associations in the nation. PSE and Avista should not be directing money to an organization that is fighting the solutions we desperately need in the Pacific Northwest to protect ourselves from rapidly escalating climate impacts like wildfires and heatwaves,” said Dylan Plummer, Senior Field Organizer with the Sierra Club.
Fossil fuel trade associations represent a significant barrier to action on climate at all levels of government. Those engaged in climate change collectively spent a staggering $3.4 billion in 10 years on political activities aimed at prolonging the use of fossil fuels. AGA specifically has led the fight to ban local governments in states across the country from transitioning new homes to clean energy.
In addition to fighting climate policy at all levels of government, AGA has also done considerable harm by working to spread misinformation on the health risks associated with burning gas indoors. AGA has worked with the same pay-to-play toxicologist linked to Big Tobacco that NW Natural hired to testify at a hearing on gas stove pollution in Multnomah County, Oregon, and downplay the well-documented health risks.
Two new studies released this month are adding to decades of research illustrating significant health harms that can result from gas cooking. A first-of-its-kind study from researchers at the University of Buffalo found an association between developmental delays in children and exposure to unclean cooking fuels, including gas, propane, and wood. A second study tracking the results of a nationwide Ecuadorian induction stove promotion program found evidence of large-scale drop in hospitalizations in lockstep with the households’ transition from gas stove to electric stove use.
“AGA is an association dedicated to prolonging our use of fossil fuels, our health, climate, and economic prosperity be damned. If Avista Utilities and Puget Sound Energy want to stand by their public-facing commitments to the clean energy transition, they should leave AGA, and stop funding climate obstruction,” said Josie Moberg, Climate Justice Movement League Fellow with Breach Collective.
Avista and Puget Sound Energy both serve communities in the Pacific Northwest that are amongst the most committed in the United States to taking action on climate. 70% of voters in Washington State believe that climate change is a major threat to our health and economy and support bold action. In a recent poll, 63% of voters in Oregon said they were either “moderately worried” or “very worried” about the effects of climate change.
Avista and PSE both present themselves as leaders in the clean energy transition. PSE especially championed the transition to clean energy in homes, including by supporting legislation that would phase out gas connections in new homes and businesses. Avista recently reached a settlement agreement with intervenors in its general rate case that disallowed the use of customer dollars for AGA dues.
“The American Gas Association is actively fighting climate policies to decarbonize our homes and buildings, despite Puget Sound Energy’s commitments to climate action. It is disappointing that a gas utility that has set itself apart to prioritize climate is still funding a trade association whose actions are not aligned with their goals,” said Kelly Hall, Washington State Director with Climate Solutions.
Earlier this year, Eversource Energy, an investor-owned utility in the Northeast, ended its AGA membership in order to “redirect costs to more targeted associations and memberships with a focus on decarbonization.” The decision shows a major gas service provider can continue to safely and responsibly provide its operations without supporting the climate obstruction.
About the Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with millions of members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.