With the natural gas industry facing new regulations on multiple fronts, three natural gas trade association spent a combined $1.68 million on lobbying in the first quarter of 2011, according to news reports.
America's Natural Gas Alliance led the spending frenzy with an outlay of $910,000 in January, February and March of this year, according to Forbes.com. The group represents natural gas drillers, who are working to prevent new restrictions on the controversial drilling practice they use to extract natural gas from shale formations.
Known as hydraulic fracturing or "fracking," the procedure involves injecting millions of gallons of water underground to fracture shale formations and free natural gas trapped in the rock. Fracking is widely criticized for allegedly polluting water wells near drilling sites and generating massive quantities of polluted waste water. Fracking fluids contain a variety of chemicals, but current federal law does not require drillers to reveal what chemicals they are injecting into the ground.
Another natural gas lobby, the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA), spent $480,000 on lobbying in the year's first quarter, according to the Bloomberg. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has launched a national pipeline safety initiative after a series of fatal pipeline accidents, Bloomberg reports. INGAA also lobbied the government in hopes of including natural gas in a portfolio of fuels that would be considered "clean," in proposals that would require that the nation's electricity come from mostly clean sources in coming years. About 21 percent of the nation's electricity is now generated using natural gas. In the first three months of 2011, INGAA lobbied the Transportation Department, as well as Congress and the Environmental Protection Agency, according to Bloomberg.
The third group, the American Gas Association (AGA), spent $290,000 on lobbying in the first quarter, according to Forbes.com. The main lobbying group for the natural gas utilities, AGA also lobbied Congress about pipeline safety, natural gas drilling rules and clean energy proposals. In late March, a bill called the FRAC Act was reintroduced in Congress. It would force drillers to reveal the chemicals included in their hydraulic fracturing fluids and remove fracking's exemption from clean water regulations.
Read the Bloomberg article about the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America