Polluters tend to “greenwash” their destructive impact on our communities by gaslighting the public and decision-makers into believing that a project (natural gas pipelines, gas plants, biogas, etc.) is good for the environment and climate. The most egregious example of this is “natural gas.”
Natural Gas Pollution Explained.
Natural gas is sold to the public and our leaders as a “clean” way to produce electricity and power appliances. This falsehood was widely accepted and has dire consequences for our health and climate.
- Natural gas is just another form of fossil fuel. It’s made up of many compounds, the majority of which is methane, a form of pollution that is 80 times more destructive to our climate than coal. Natural gas industry leaders claim it is a "clean" alternative -- this is a lie.
- Natural gas in our homes can harm health. Stoves and furnaces connected to gas lines can leak volatile chemicals that form toxic particulate matter that can cause asthma and other respiratory and cardiovascular illness. A recent study found that 650,000 cases of childhood asthma can be attributed to gas stove use.
- Natural gas is not renewable. It's a depleting resource that cannot be replenished over time.
The Dangerous Natural Gas "Preemption" Campaign
The Natural Gas Industry has launched a state-by-state effort to pass laws that prohibit local governments from transitioning off of natural gas power. This policy is not only harmful for our health and climate, it's also undemocratic. Lobbyists are trying to pass this legislation in Virginia. There are many dangerous elements of natural gas preemption laws:
Localities know what’s best for their communities, not the natural gas industry.
- Preemption bills strip local governments of their decision-making authority, placing the needs of special interests over that of constituents.
- Municipalities deserve the authority to establish goals and plan proactively. Preemption bills silence local representatives and the people that elected them.
- As diverse energy sources become more accessible and affordable, local leadership is in the best position to determine what communities need. Preemption policy irresponsibly reduces choice.
Forcing communities to rely on natural gas locks-in high electric and utility bills.
- Preemption legislation dictates the use of natural gas even if more affordable energy sources are available.
- The price of natural gas is greatly influenced by international markets and events, a big reason why Dominion Energy raised minimum electric bills by an average of $15.
- All electric appliances like heat pumps can be three to five times as efficient as natural gas appliances – meaning they accomplish the same outcome with less energy. Less energy = lower electric bills.
Pollution felt on the local level should be addressed at the local level.
- Despite what special interests say, natural gas is a pollution intensive energy source that can harm our health by hurting air quality in our homes.
- Gas appliances can leak volatile chemicals that are toxic and result in asthma, and respiratory and cardiovascular illness when breathed in
- Localities deserve the option to make decisions about public health without the interference of natural gas special interests.
Debunking Natural Gaslighting Talking Points
The industry is successful because they are effective at downplaying the harms of natural gas. They rely on arguments that don't hold up to scrutiny when you put these claims into context.
|Gaslighting Talking Point||Reality|
Methane from natural gas evaporates from the atmosphere quicker than coal.
|This is technically true but misleading. Climate change is caused by releasing chemicals into the atmosphere that trap heat. Methane is one of the most detrimental fossil fuels because of it traps more heat than coal and oil -- more than 80 times the amount traditional fossil fuels!|
|Natural Gas infrastructure like pipelines and appliances do not leak methane and other sources of pollution.||The industry ALWAYS claims they can contain or capture methane when seeking approval for new natural gas projects. Multiple studies show this claim to be false. In addition to accidents and inadequate infrastructure, gas companies intentionally release methane pollution for maintenance and repair needs that occur over time. Another study observing five major American cities found that more than 750,000 tons of methane pollution leaked from "homes, businesses, and gas distribution infrastructure."|
||Natural gas is fueling the climate crisis and harming health in the present, with the hardest impacts concentrated on communities of color and poor communities. Every new natural gas project and gas-powered appliance is a step in the wrong direction. period.|
|Natural gas is more affordable than clean energy.||
The price of natural gas is influenced by international market forces. This makes the price volatile and responsive to international incidents and supply chain issues. Clean energy is largely independent of these factors which makes the price more affordable AND stable. In Virginia our biggest utility, Dominion energy, raised the minimum bill on electricity because the price of natural gas skyrocketed. Clean energy also doesn't make people sick.
Fighting Natural Gas Pollution on the Local Level
Cities across America are deepening their dependency of this harmful pollution source instead of transitioning away. Delaying natural gas solutions is not only harmful to our climate, it's disastrous for our health and financial wellbeing. These groups are fighting to convince local officials to ditch natural gas in their communities.