How the Sierra Club and the natural gas industry broke up
Yesterday, TIME published the news that the Sierra Club had taken more than $25 million dollars from the natural gas industry — specifically, from employees and subsidiaries of Chesapeake Energy, one of the largest natural gas companies around. The donations came at a time when the environmental movement was rallying behind natural gas as a “bridge fuel” — an energy source cleaner than coal that could lead to a renewable energy future.
But in 2010, the Sierra Club’s new executive director, Michael Brune, decided to end the financial relationship, forgoing an additional $30 million in funding — an amount equal to a quarter year’s budget for the club. By then, issues with hydrofracking had become more apparent, and as Brune told TIME, “We need to be unrestrained in our advocacy … The first rule of advocacy is that you shouldn’t take money from industries and companies you’re trying to change.”
That Brune is talking about this now shows a real shift in how environmental groups are thinking about clean and renewable energy. In a post on the Sierra Club’s own blog, Brune wrote, “It’s time to stop thinking of natural gas as a ‘kinder, gentler’ energy source … as we phase out coal, we need to leapfrog over gas whenever possible in favor of truly clean energy.”
How the Sierra Club Took Millions from the Natural Gas Industry and Why They Stopped, TIME.
Coming Clean, Sierra Club.