Clearing the Air: A Call for Truth in “Natural” Gas Advertising
It’s high time we stop the deceptive advertising tactics of the gas industry. For decades, the public has been bombarded with ads promoting methane gas as “natural,” “clean,” and even “renewable,” despite mounting scientific evidence of its harms to public health and the climate. But we have a once-in-a-decade opportunity to crack down on the industry’s misleading marketing and ensure the public gets the full story about “natural” gas.
This week Gas Leaks joined forces with a coalition of consumer advocates to urge the Federal Trade Commission to issue clearer guidelines on marketing claims in “natural” gas ads. As the consumer watchdog agency updates its Green Guides, which offer guidance on how companies can avoid deceptive environmental claims in their advertising, we can make a real difference.
The FTC hasn’t updated the guides since 2012. Since then, the gas industry’s misleading advertising has reached new heights:
- Gas lobbying groups have been caught sponsoring social media influencers and TV personalities to promote methane gas, often without disclosing the industry’s involvement.
- Gas utilities have distributed children’s books in elementary schools, falsely promoting gas as “clean” and “safe.”
- Cities have been forced to remove misleading gas ads from the sides of garbage trucks and public transit.
The past decade has also seen a growing body of evidence that highlights the harms that gas has on public health and the climate:
- Most gas in the country comes from fracking, which has been linked to premature births, heart disease, and cancers like leukemia.
- Leaks of planet-warming methane from the gas system make it as bad as coal power for the climate.
- Gas is polluting the air in our homes, releasing cancer-causing benzene and causing 1 in 8 cases of childhood asthma.
In light of this evidence, the gas industry must no longer be allowed to describe their product as “clean,” “natural,” or “renewable” in advertising to the public. These kinds of descriptors mislead the public about the costs of gas and confuse consumers who want to make informed choices that protect their families and reduce their impact on the climate crisis.
Gas Leaks also urged the FTC to establish rules about advertising “renewable natural gas.” Also known as biogas, “renewable natural gas” is methane captured from garbage dumps, landfills, sewage treatment plants, and animal manure, which is then injected into pipelines alongside conventional methane gas from fracking. Although biogas constitutes a mere 0.2% of gas sold nationwide, the industry spends heavily to make people falsely believe that the gas in their homes is somehow getting cleaner.
To learn more, read our full comments to the Federal Trade Commission on their Green Guides update, and join us in our fight to reveal the truth about the gas industry’s deceptive advertising practices.