Methane gas — sometimes called natural gas, which is mostly methane but contains other gases — is an energy source similar to oil and coal. Burning natural gas creates air pollution and heat-trapping gases, including carbon dioxide (CO2), though relatively less than oil or coal.
Methane gas is also a heat-trapping gas itself; when it escapes into the atmosphere due to leaks and faulty equipment, it has up to 80 times the effect on our planet’s temperature that carbon pollution would.
However, according to the Tennessee legislature and Governor Bill Lee, “natural gas” is a clean energy source on par with wind, solar, and water power. The bill lays out a list of 17 “permissible sources of clean energy” that must be allowed by any “ordinance, resolution, or other regulation” that “imposes requirements or expectations related to the source of clean energy used by a public utility.”
In other words, government agencies or programs in Tennessee that encourage clean energy use have to include natural gas.
Tennessee isn’t the first state to adopt a measure like this one. In December, Ohio passed a similar law labeling natural gas as “green energy.” Outlets, including the Energy and Policy Institute and The Washington Post, reported that The Empowerment Alliance, a group involved with earlier bribery scandals, had been behind the Ohio bill’s support.
The same group was involved in the Tennessee bill, Heated suggests. Governor Lee and bill co-sponsor State Senator Page Walley have signed The Empowerment Alliance’s “Declaration of Energy Independence” to support natural gas. Heated claims that other officials who supported the bill have also received money from the oil and gas industries.
Since the Paris Agreement in 2015, governments and businesses across the globe have been looking for ways to produce less heat-trapping gas and cool down the planet while investing in affordable, clean energy sources.
However, leaders and lobbyists from polluting industries like oil, gas, and coal have become an obstacle to this development. They stand to lose money if the world switches to less expensive and less polluting fuel sources, like solar and wind, and many have opposed efforts to switch.
Reddit commenters were enraged by the news from Tennessee. Many commented on a post that moderators have since removed but left visible. “‘Industry-funded,’” said one user. “Name it what it is. Bribery. The lawmakers and the industrialists paying them need to be behind bars.”
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