Mountain States

Failed Activist Group Runs Debunked TV Ad on Natural Gas Stoves

“Keep It In The Ground” group Colorado Rising, after failing with its anti-fracking ballot measure in 2018, is trying out a new anti-energy campaign – this time it’s going after Colorado’s appliances.

Colorado Rising teamed up with Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) – a national activist group that has a long history of opposing domestic oil and gas development, mostly in Pennsylvania and New York –  to launch a TV attack ad against natural gas stoves.

The ad, running on 9News, alleges that cooking with natural gas “releases chemicals that can cause diseases,” and that consumers should switch to electric appliances, but it relies on debunked research and ignores technological advances that are improving the efficiency of natural gas appliances.

Here’s what you need to know:

The Ad Relies On Debunked Research

The duo also created a new website that cites PSR’s misleading study the group published with the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), Mothers Out Front, and the Sierra Club.

The study appears to be the basis for the claims made in the ad, despite the significant issues with it. As EID previously explained, PSR and its co-sponsors ignored existing technology, proper ventilation and user practices when recommending that Americans throw out their gas stoves. In fact, both the Canadian government and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have found that proper ventilation – regardless of whether a person is using a gas or electric stove – drastically lowers emissions produced from cooking. Canada’s fact sheet says:

“Running a range hood exhaust on high (300 cubic feet/minute) during cooking can reduce exposure to cooking-related pollutants by more than 80 percent when compared to slower speeds.”

That’s not the only study from the Sierra Club that uses flawed research to attack natural gas stoves. The group partnered again with PSR and RMI, along with the Natural Resources Defense Council, last year on research that also had major issues. As EID highlighted, the authors of that study were forced to admit that technological advances have greatly improved natural gas stoves:

“The EF of gas appliances have declined over time, likely due to the technological advances of appliances and pollutant capture technology, which reduce emissions.”

The study also conceded that shifting to electric appliances (as the Colorado Rising and PSR TV ad advocates) really wouldn’t make much of a difference for indoor air quality:

“Finally, there are indoor air quality issues associated with the use of gas cooking appliances that will remain despite the implementation of electrification, and we do not account for this. Some PM emissions are associated with cooking oils and foods, and there are no mitigation methods for this, other than the use of ventilation devices such as range hoods. We do not claim that the transition to electric appliances would make a substantial difference in terms of emissions from cooking oils and food.” (emphasis added)

But that hasn’t stopped them from calling for an end to natural gas appliances in their ads, on their websites and in research as part of their “Keep It In the Ground” agenda.

Colorado Rising’s Past Failures

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Colorado Rising is the local activist group that’s running this thoroughly flawed TV ad considering its past defeats.

In 2018, it sponsored the failed anti-fracking ballot measure that would have extended the setback distance of oil and natural operations to what would have essentially banned development in most of the state. Despite an election year that was friendly to pro-environmental candidates, Colorado Rising’s effort was defeated by double digits.

Last summer, the group tried to sponsor another setback ballot measures but was forced to call it quits after the COVID-19 pandemic prevented a robust signature collection drive.

The decision to wave the white flag caused dissention in the ranks of the group, resulting in two officials splitting off to start their own organization to keep the ballot measure marching forward, as CPR News reported:

“But the decision lacked support from activists Anne Lee Foster and Suzanne Spiegel. Because the pair are listed as the proponents for the initiative, they have the sole power to withdraw it from consideration for the ballot. They declined to do so even after Colorado Rising said it wouldn’t support signature collection.”

That effort failed too after the state Supreme Court ruled they couldn’t collect signatures online and the new group also gave up.

This is Really a National Effort

Fundamentally, this has nothing to do with Colorado.  The real force behind the TV ad is PSR and their RMI and Sierra Club partners – all national activist groups whose real goal is to shut down America’s natural gas industry.

In fact, in a Facebook post promoting the TV ad, PSR acknowledged it was the primary supporter doing the “heavy lifting”:

Another recent, misleading report from PSR on PFAS, states calls for states to “prohibit drilling, fracking,” a move that would be detrimental in Colorado where the oil and natural gas industry contributes $1 billion a year in state and local tax revenue and supports more than 80,000 jobs.

That PSR report, received “generous support” from the Park Foundation, a New York-based organization that backs other anti-natural gas groups like the Center for Biological Diversity and Earthworks.

RMI claims support from “50 U.S. states and 15 countries” including donations of at least $1 million each from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Rockefeller Family Fund – wealthy foundations located in New York City that are part of the vast network opposing the development and use of natural gas. RMI’s Board Chair is also a key advisor to California billionaire Tom Steyer.

The Sierra Club is a $244 million organization that has long opposed fracking and the use of natural gas appliances and relies on donations from Rockefeller groups, the Energy Foundation, and the Sixteen Thirty Fund – all of which have significantly funded the “Keep It In the Ground” movement.

This campaign shouldn’t come as a surprise. As the Washington Times reported in 2019 that state government officials from across the country and activist groups met in New York in a Rockefeller-hosted meeting to discuss strategies to ban natural gas appliances.

What’s the Strategy Here?

Weirdly enough, there doesn’t seem to be much of a strategy behind this ad.

It was launched after the end of the state legislative session and there currently are not any major public policy pushes in Colorado focused on natural gas stoves.

Neither Colorado Rising nor PSR sent out press releases and have just resorted to Facebook posts that have received less than 20 likes and shares.

Moreover, the TV ad hasn’t received any media coverage from the local press.

So, it’s worth asking: just what exactly is going on here?

Maybe there isn’t one since Coloradans know the benefits of natural gas stoves and appliances. An analysis from the American Gas Association found “that the annual average cost for a home with high-efficiency gas would be $815 per year” compared to $1,385 with an electrified home.

Additionally, natural gas bans around the country have been met with stiff resistance, especially from restaurants where chefs love to cook over an open flame.

Who knows what the rationale is behind these efforts, but if Colorado Rising’s history in the state is any indicator, we can fairly confidently anticipate how Coloradans – who have shown they support affordable, reliable energy produced in their own state – will receive it.

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