America's Natural Gas Alliance
ANGA is a coalition of 21 natural gas exploration and production companies in the United States, including Cabot Oil and Gas, Chesapeake Energy, Range Resources, EQT and others. It was founded in 2009 to promote increased demand for shale gas and deflect concerns about fracking, climate change and other harmful environmental effects created by the industry. Incorporated as American Natural Gas Alliance, Inc., ANGA received $76.7 million from its dues-paying members in fiscal year 2012. Gas, made primarily of methane, has been shown to be 105 times more powerful a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
ANGA spent over $12.9 million in lobbying from 2009 to 2014. 15 out of 20 lobbyists working for ANGA in 2013 previously held positions in government. ANGA’s CEO, Marty Durbin is the nephew of Illinois Senator Richard Durbin, the second-ranking U.S. Senate Democrat. ANGA lobbyist (1/11 to 12/12) Tom Hassenboehler was appointed as Chief Counsel to the House Energy and Power Subcommittee in December 2012.
One thing is crystal clear from ANGA's 990 forms: they are "buypartisan." That is, they donate money to both sides of the political aisle, although the bulk of the dollars flows to members of the republican party. From 2010 to 2014, Republicans received 77% while Democrats received 20% of total campaign contributions. The highest contribution -- $10,000 -- was given to Rep. John Boehner’s Speaker Committee in 2014.
ANGA paid Bluewater Strategies $540,000 to lobby Congress, the White House and EPA between 2010 and 2012. Nation Magazine reporter Lee Fang revealed that ANGA also gave $25,000 to ASGK Strategies, a political consulting firm founded by the White House advisor David Axelrod, and $864,673 to Edventures Partners, an education curriculum company that has partnered with ANGA to produce classroom materials that promote the use of gas. Fang also points out ANGA has given millions of dollars to Democratic Party-affiliated PR firms, perhaps unsurprising given its new CEO is Martin "Marty" Durbin, nephew of U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), the U.S. Senate's Majority Whip.
"The 990 shows that ANGA paid the Glover Park Group over $2.9 million for 'research/advertising' and Dewey Square Group $738,957 for 'grassroots communications,’" wrote Fang. "Both firms are run by mostly former Clinton administration officials."
Other payments included:
$6,500 to Dewey Square for general operational support
$25,000 to Environmental Media Association, "a nonprofit organization dedicated to harnessing the power of the entertainment industry and the media to educate the global public on environmental issues and motivate sustainable lifestyles"
$8,500 to America's Promise Alliance, an education nonprofit founded by Colin Powell
$250,000 to IHS Global, a research company that produced a report last year claiming that the fracking industry will support 1.7 million new jobs
$165,000 to the Texas Tribune
$100,000 to Bloomberg Businessweek
$50,000 to National Journal
Bipartisanship, Attacks on Renewables, Money to Green Group
ANGA donated $25,000 to the Democratic Attorneys General Association, while giving nine times as much to the Republican Governors Association to the tune of $225,000. It then tossed another $200,000 to the Republican State Leadership Committee, throwing $25,000 more to Third Way, a think-tank of sorts of the corporate Blue Dog Democrats.
Not content with its vast market share of the U.S. utilities market, ANGA gave $100,000 to the "Care for Michigan Coalition," an industry-funded nonprofit created to defeat Michigan's Proposal 3 in the November 2012 elections. Proposal 3 would have mandated 25-percent of Michigan's energy portfolio come from renewable energy sources by 2025, known by energy policy wonks as 25x25.
Other major Care for Michigan Coalition donors included Warren Buffett's BNSF (whose trains carry vast amounts of frac sand and oil fracked from North Dakota's Bakken Shale), DTE Energy, CMS Energy and the Michigan Manufacturers' Association.
ANGA didn't limit its patronage to sworn enemies of renewable energy, though. It also handed $30,000 to the Texas League of Conservation Voters. Not strictly a lobbying force alone at the state-level and federal-level, ANGA has pumped millions of dollars into public relations and advertising efforts. ANGA also recently became a founding partner of MSNBC.com's newly launched website, on whose platform it will regularly publish "native advertisements," sometimes also referred to as "branded content." Lee Fang exposed that ANGA gave $1 million in funding to “Truthland,” a pro-fracking film released to fend off Josh Fox's “Gasland: Part II.”
Donations to ALEC and "Other ALECs"
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is by far the most powerful and famous corporate-funded nonprofit that companies and trade associations donate money to in order to influence state legislative and regulatory policy. ANGA was sworn in as a dues-paying member of ALEC at its States and Nation Policy Summit that took place in December 4-6, 2013 in Washington, DC. Yet ALEC is not the only registered nonprofit incorporated to "educate" elected officials or serve as a lobbying forum for corporations.
The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), which DeSmog blogger Steve Horn characterizes as "[an]other ALEC" in an investigative series published for TruthOut, received $50,000 from ANGA during fiscal year 2012. ANGA also gave $41,000 to the National Association of Counties and $10,000 to the National League of Cities.
ANGA is pushing for the approval of Cove Point in Maryland and other LNG exports. In May 2014, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley’s political group called newDEAL met with ANGA at their DC headquarters. The newDEAL is funded by large corporations that provide major funding to Republicans such as Comcast, Fluor, Merck, Microsoft, New York Life, Pfizer, Qualcomm, Verizon, Wal-Mart, the Private Equity Growth Capital Council, and ANGA. The O’Malley connection to ANGA is particularly interesting given the battle the gas industry is waging in his state. However, more than 50 Maryland Businesses who are the members of Chesapeake Sustainable Business Council and Green America’s Business Network oppose the construction of a 130 MW power plant and LNG export terminal.
In 2011, ANGA lobbied for the “Defending America's Affordable Energy and Jobs Act” which would prohibit the President or any federal agency addressing the control of emissions of a greenhouse gas (GHG) on climate change except as authorized by Congress. The law would also nullify other rules promulgated and actions taken by the Administrator of the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate GHGs. The bill was not enacted.