SoCalGas Coalition Faces Increased Public Scrutiny

The diversification of energy sources has received heightened attention as policymakers continue to explore ways to improve air quality and reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions. In recent weeks, Californians for Balanced Energy Solutions (C4BES), a coalition primarily formed by SoCalGas, has been at the center of much of the news coverage.

SoCalGas has come under fire for creating the coalition as a front group to lobbying cities to pass resolutions that promote their own policy interests. Community leaders argued that SoCalGas was not completely forthcoming about their role funding the coalition and using it to promote a continued reliance on fossil fuels like natural gas. The situation escalated when the Public Advocates Office, an independent watchdog within the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), concurred and accused the company of using ratepayer dollars to create C4BES to lobby.

The Los Angeles Times, in a back-to-back editorial and article, wrote “SoCal Gas’ sleazy ‘Astroturf’ effort to keep fossil fuels flowing in California” and “SoCal Gas accused of setting up an ‘astro-turf’ group to plead its case to regulators.”

The controversy prompted Culver City Mayor Meghan Sahli-Wells to write an editorial titled “Healthier homes are within reach in Southern California” in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune in which she questioned SoCalGas’ attempts to pass resolutions that she argues “mislead the public.” Mayor Sahli-Wells calls out SoCalGas for engaging in a “sleazy” campaign through the C4BES coalition. She vowed that Culver City will reject their efforts and instead fight for their residents “who deserve clean air, convenient access to renewable energy and healthy homes.”

“Burning gas in our homes can lead to air pollution that would be illegal if measured outside – and an alarming study recently showed that children living in a home with a gas stove have a 42 percent increased risk of asthma…This means a lot to me – because I’m not just an elected official, I’m also a mother. And as a mom, I am aware that the decisions California makes today will impact our children for many years to come,” wrote the Mayor.

Facing mounting backlash, the C4BES coalition recently withdrew their application to participate in the regulatory proceeding at the CPUC where it had originally sought to advocate for policies favoring SoCalGas.