Monday, February 6, 2012

Gas company, lung association team up
12/14/11 7:40 PM EST

Chesapeake Energy is a major donor to the lung-health trade group. | AP Photo
A major natural gas company has found itself an ally in the war over clean air regulations — the American Lung Association.

Oklahoma-based Chesapeake Energy, which bills itself as the No. 2 producer of natural gas in the United States, is a major donor to the lung-health trade group.

Over the years, its contributions have paid for TV ads supporting cleaner air and an environmental education campaign.

The American Lung Association is currently running ads across the country featuring a coughing baby in a carriage next to a dirty power plant and calling for stricter environmental rules for the coal industry.

While nonprofits often take corporate money to help pay the bills, the lung association is catching heat from coal supporters over its cozy relationship with Chesapeake.

“It comes as no surprise that Chesapeake is trying to buy credibility for its lobbying objectives,” said National Mining Association spokesman Luke Popovich. “But that the ALA would sell its credibility to a gas company should disturb those who still view the ALA as an impartial voice.”

The ads come as the coal industry is at war with the Obama administration over new rules to curb pollution from coal-fired power plants. The EPA is expected to issue new rules on Friday to curb air toxics from power plants, which are estimated to cost industry about $10.9 billion each year.
Stricter rules for power plants are expected to offer a competitive advantage to the cleaner-burning natural gas industry.

To be sure, Chesapeake is using other avenues in Washington to make sure its position is known. The company spent $1.4 million on lobbying during the first nine months of 2011. The energy giant also has hired guns like Bracewell & Giuliani, Chad Bradley & Associates, Delta Strategy Group and the Duberstein Group on retainer and is a member of the trade group America's Natural Gas Alliance.

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