• Matt Esnayra

Lobbyist reportedly paid locals to support natural gas trucks over electric trucks at LA/LB Ports.

A lobbyist firm hired by a natural gas company paid locals to attend public meetings to advocate for natural gas-powered trucks over electric trucks at the Port of Los Angeles and Long Beach in a joint report by the Los Angeles Times and The Guardian.

Why it matters:

Two weeks ago, the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued their latest report on global warming. As a result of human activity, the climate crisis has already begun, and that it's going to get worse as long as humans use greenhouse-producing fuels. The report also states that the only way to reverse the effects is to stop using fossil fuels like natural gas.

  • Lobbyist firms running front groups are nothing new to politics; it's a typical practice in the industry called astroturfing.

  • Besides creating front groups, lobbyists have created fake Twitter accounts, hired influencers, and paid for misleading ad campaigns, per the Business Insider.

  • The EPA says the natural gas industry" is a significant source of emissions of methane."

The state of play: The Times reports that Method Campaign Services hired at least 20 residents as a front group to attend public meetings and press conferences to push for natural gas-powered "near-zero-emission" trucks at the port. Natural gas is less polluting than a diesel-powered truck but still contributes to climate change.

  • One San Pedro resident told The Guardian that Method Campaign Services misled her in believing they were "standing up for sustainability" as part of a pro-environmental campaign.

  • In 2017, Method Campaign Services was reportedly paid $10,000 by Clean Energy Fuels Corp, a chain of natural gas fueling stations across Southern California.

  • Southern California Gas Company's logo appeared on the pamphlet handed out by canvassers, and some found the gig on Indeed paying them a reported $20 an hour.

  • The LA Times and Floodlight report that they weren't able to confirm if all of the 20 hired residents were part of the organized campaign, but nearly all spoke at a harbor commission meeting.

  • According to financial disclosures, Method founder Brian VanRiper's spouse, Samantha Millman, is on L.A.'s city planning commission.

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