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Tim Ryan promoting natural gas in new role

Tim Ryan, the former 20-year congressman, is joining the leadership council of a national organization that works to promote natural gas as clean energy.

Natural Allies for a Clean Energy Future, a public policy organization funded by several major natural gas companies, announced the hiring Thursday. The organization declined to disclose how much it was paying Ryan.

“I am excited to join Natural Allies and promote the role natural gas plays in meeting global climate goals faster while advancing reliability and affordability here at home,” Ryan said in a prepared statement. “These are kitchen-table issues voters understand — people’s livelihoods and jobs often depend on rational energy policy. As Democrats, we can be pro-climate, pro-affordability and pro-natural gas.”

Ryan, of Howland, was a proponent of natural gas during his time in Congress. He represented most of Mahoning and Trumbull counties during his 10 terms in the House.

Ryan joins ex-U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, a Louisiana Democrat, on the two-member leadership council. He replaces ex-U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, a North Dakota Democrat who left the organization to become director of the University of Chicago Institute of Politics.

Ryan gave up his House seat last year to run unsuccessfully as the Democratic nominee for U.S. senator in Ohio, losing to Republican J.D. Vance by 6.11 percent.

Regarding his new job, Ryan said: “The events of the last year show we can no longer sit on the sidelines while countries like Russia seek to weaponize energy, coerce and threaten our allies and jeopardize global security. American natural gas is the answer to that threat. Today it is helping to stabilize our allies and maintain freedom across the globe.”

He added: “Expanding our U.S. natural gas infrastructure meets our energy goals now and allows us to adapt to zero carbon fuels of the future like hydrogen that drive carbon emissions down. Further, the working-class people who built the energy systems we rely on in this country today are going to be the same people who build the next generation of energy. Natural gas will be a huge part of that.”

Natural Allies formed in August 2020 with its initial board of directors including senior management from major natural gas companies such as Duke Energy, TC Energy and the Williams Companies.

Its revenue was $4.7 million in 2021, according to its Form 990 financial disclosure, up from $1,750,025 a year earlier. Of its 2021 revenue, $3.7 million went to Omnicrom Public Relations Group of New York City.

Efforts by the natural gas industry to be classified as green energy have come under criticism by environmental groups and several Democrats, including in Ohio.

Renewable energy such as solar and wind typically are considered green energy.

Natural gas is a fossil fuel that consists primarily of methane and the extraction and consumption of it contributes to climate change.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine a few weeks ago signed into law legislation that redefines natural gas as green energy. The bill also expanded the drilling of oil and gas in state parks. Most Republicans in the state Legislature supported the bill while all Democrats opposed it.

It was placed into a bill originally written to change the number of poultry chicks sold in lots during the Legislature’s lame duck session last month.

In a Feb. 24, 2022, article in Politico, Landrieu and Heitkamp wrote: “We cannot and will not solve the climate crisis with renewable sources alone — natural gas must also be part of the solution. Natural gas is accelerating America’s and the world’s transition to a clean-energy future, not jeopardizing it.”

They added that with carbon emissions in the country reaching their lowest level in 27 years, “elected officials from both sides of the aisle should not forget the critical role natural gas and its infrastructure must play in further lowering these levels.”

A Natural Allies official said: “Practically speaking, we cannot achieve a clean energy future without natural gas in the mix. Partnering natural gas with renewable energies like wind and solar can help the world reach its climate goals faster without compromising reliability and affordability.”

The official also said natural gas emits half as much carbon dioxide as coal and 30 percent less than oil.

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