NW Natural: The Battle Over Gas in the Pacific Northwest

NW Natural

About the NW Natural: The Battle Over Gas in the Pacific Northwest Series

NW Natural is the largest gas distribution company in Oregon, serving 2.5 million people. As the climate crisis worsens, NW Natural, like many utilities, has come under increasing pressure to cut greenhouse gas emissions. 

But as DeSmog has documented, NW Natural is fighting hard to prevent the erosion of its gas business. It has aggressively marketed costly climate “solutions” with questionable benefit, such as “renewable natural gas” and a hydrogen-methane blend for home heating. It has sent activity workbooks to schools to spread a positive message about natural gas to children. It has sought to pay its executives bonuses and bill ratepayers for the cost. 

The company positions itself as a climate leader, but critics argue that the campaign is largely an exercise in misdirection — an effort to buy time and buy social license for its gas infrastructure. At the same time that it offers false solutions, it is aggressively lobbying to block electrification efforts.

This series explores the variety of PR campaigns that NW Natural has engaged in. Like many gas utilities around the country, NW Natural is still attempting to grow its gas sales for the foreseeable future. 

In This Series

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NW Natural sought a rate hike to recover the costs of lobbying, promotional advertising, and pro-gas activity booklets for kids. Regulators rejected several of those proposals and also initiated a cut in a crucial subsidy for the utility.

NW Natural sought a rate hike to recover the costs of lobbying, promotional advertising, and pro-gas activity booklets for kids. Regulators rejected several of those proposals and also initiated a cut in a crucial subsidy for the utility.
Series: NW Natural
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NW Natural aims to blend hydrogen with methane gas and pipe it to homes in the name of climate action. But community groups blasted the proposal as greenwashing that imposes safety and environmental risks on a working class community.

NW Natural aims to blend hydrogen with methane gas and pipe it to homes in the name of climate action. But community groups blasted the proposal as greenwashing that imposes safety and environmental risks on a working class community.
Series: NW Natural
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Advocates say that’s all the more reason to end customer-funded gas line expansion.

Advocates say that’s all the more reason to end customer-funded gas line expansion.
Series: NW Natural
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The fossil fuel industry, smarting from a string of defeats in Oregon and Washington, is hoping to continue to expand in the face of the climate crisis, but without arousing opposition.

The fossil fuel industry, smarting from a string of defeats in Oregon and Washington, is hoping to continue to expand in the face of the climate crisis, but without arousing opposition.
Series: NW Natural
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NW Natural offered free activity booklets that included games, puzzles, and cartoons that portray methane gas as clean and beneficial. Environmental groups call it propaganda.

NW Natural offered free activity booklets that included games, puzzles, and cartoons that portray methane gas as clean and beneficial. Environmental groups call it propaganda.
Series: NW Natural
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NW Natural is positioning itself as a climate leader, but critics suggest the gas utility is attempting to block the push towards electrification — and to get ratepayers to foot the bill.

NW Natural is positioning itself as a climate leader, but critics suggest the gas utility is attempting to block the push towards electrification — and to get ratepayers to foot the bill.
Series: NW Natural
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The Eugene city council has broken off negotiations with a major gas utility that has resisted greenhouse gas reduction targets, and has instead opted to go the route of banning new gas hookups.

The Eugene city council has broken off negotiations with a major gas utility that has resisted greenhouse gas reduction targets, and has instead opted to go the route of banning new gas hookups.
Series: NW Natural
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More than 40 cities have enacted bans on new gas infrastructure, but in the Pacific Northwest one company is trying a new tactic to head off climate policy.

More than 40 cities have enacted bans on new gas infrastructure, but in the Pacific Northwest one company is trying a new tactic to head off climate policy.
Series: NW Natural