Coalition for Cleaner Affordable Energy
Coalition for Cleaner Affordable Energy is a Nevada-based front group that includes Southwest Gas as a “partner” along with many of the gas utility’s allies. The front group launched in 2021 to successfully oppose climate legislation in Nevada and then went dormant after the legislative session but resurfaced to defend the fossil gas utility amid public frustration with high utility bills and mounting evidence concerning risks of gas appliances to public health.
Background and connections to Southwest Gas
During Nevada’s 2021 legislative session, Assemblywoman Lesley Cohen introduced legislation AB380, which would have required gas utilities to employ a more rigorous planning process before expanding infrastructure. Additionally, the bill would have aligned state regulation of gas utilities with former Governor Sisolak’s Climate Strategy to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
The Coalition for Cleaner Affordable Energy sponsored Facebook content to “Stop AB380.” One of the videos featured Retail Association of Nevada (RAN) President Bryan Wachter falsely framing the climate bill as a fossil gas appliance ban. In 2022, RAN was connected to a web of opposition smearing Assemblywoman Cohen leading up to her primary election against Joe Dalia.
Days before Cohen introduced AB380, a coalition of two mayors, six chambers of commerce, 17 trade groups, and two unions (IBEW Local 1245 has since announced it was mistakenly included) sent a letter to then-Gov. Sisolak that advocated for gas and expressed concern about the administration’s Climate Strategy. Southwest Gas drafted and organized the signatories, according to emails obtained by the Climate Investigations Center. Many groups that signed the letter are also partners of the Coalition for Cleaner Affordable Energy. After AB380 was introduced, Southwest Gas doubled its lobbying team and increased campaign contributions to combat the legislation. At the same time, Coalition for Cleaner Affordable Energy was created and began releasing its sponsored content targeting the bill.
Southwest Gas is listed as a partner on Coalition for Cleaner Affordable Energy’s webpage, along with many other groups that have either received financial support from the gas utility or are connected in another way:
- Nevada Restaurant Association is listed in Southwest Gas’ Arizona rate case as part of a list of groups the utility provides payments to and recovers from customer bills
- Southern Nevada Homebuilders Association includes Southwest Gas as a dues-paying member
- Henderson Chamber of Commerce includes Southwest Gas as a sponsor
- Latin Chamber of Commerce has confirmed to EPI that Southwest Gas is a member
- Boulder City Chamber of Commerce includes Southwest Gas as a member
- Plumbing Heating Cooling Contractors Association includes Southwest Gas as a member
- Veterans Village, a project of SHARE Village Las Vegas, received $5,000 in charitable contributions Southwest Gas in 2021
- Helping Hands of Vegas Valley received $1,500 from Southwest Gas in 2021
- Northeastern Nevada Regional Development Authority includes a Southwest Gas representative on its board
Many of the partners of the Coalition for Cleaner Affordable Energy also provided comments in support of the continued use of fossil gas in the Public Utility Commission of Nevada’s 2021 investigation for the long-term planning of gas utility services.
Coalition for Cleaner Affordable Energy launched its Facebook page in February of 2021 but has upped its advertisements and has been spending thousands of dollars to defend fossil gas since the start of 2023. The advertisements urge Nevadans to oppose gas bans even though no proposal for a gas ban has been made at the state legislature.
Coalition for Cleaner Affordable Energy is also using the Facebook page to uplift the appointment of Southwest Gas Senior Legislative Policy Advisor Dwayne McClinton to the role of Director of the Office of Energy for Governor Joe Lombardo.
The front group’s Facebook page also urged followers to submit feedback to Clark County about the Community Sustainability & Climate Action Plan.