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The gas industry’s new playbook? Advertise to the young and people of color

Pipeline companies facing opposition in blue states have launched a $10m PR campaign targeting the Democratic base

Source: Natural Allies for a Clean Energy Future Facebook ad By Taylor Kate Brown for Floodlight and the Guardian American energy corporation the Williams Companies was facing yet another setback in its attempts to build a natural gas pipeline in New York.

After a years-long battle, state regulators and pushback from protesters had forced the company to cancel its previously proposed Constitution pipeline from Pennsylvania to New York. And in May 2020, another major Williams project – a nearly $1bn gas pipeline that would run underwater from New Jersey to the Rockaway peninsula in Queens – was rejected for a second time.

Williams, which handles about 30% of the natural gas in the US, needed a dramatic turnaround. So in the lead-up to the 2020 presidential election the company, along with at least six other fossil fuel pipeline and utility companies, invested in a strategy to rebrand natural gas through a new industry group they named Natural Allies for a Clean Energy Future.

Its focus: convince younger, liberal and non-white audiences that gas is a “clean” energy solution.

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