House Republicans are at it again with another culture war stunt. This time, James Comer is feigning outrage over gas stoves, holding a hearing featuring a gas industry attorney working for a gas trade group spending customers’ utility fees on lobbying for gas stoves and two revolving door insiders working for Koch-funded advocacy groups and right-wing think tanks. As usual, Republicans are only putting on yet another partisan circus in an effort to pander to the MAGA base instead of investigating the issues Americans care most about.
Matthew Agen is a gas industry insider working as chief regulatory counsel of energy and assistant general counsel for the American Gas Association (AGA). The self-described “energy attorney” has over fifteen years of experience working with natural gas companies, oil pipelines, natural gas pipelines, and utilities.
- Agen Works For The American Gas Association (AGA), Which Spent Millions Taken From Utility Customers Lobbying For Gas Stoves. The AGA is a trade association representing hundreds of companies providing natural gas to homes and businesses that was recently exposed for using millions of dollars raised through utility customer fees for lobbying purposes. The AGA has been using these funds to undermine research on the negative pollutants released by gas stoves, and their ensuing adverse health effects, through expensive ad campaigns reaching up to 1.3 million people.
- The AGA Has Leveraged Internal Government Relationships To Codify Municipal Building Regulations & Ensure Continued Use of Natural Gas Lines. The AGA continues to oppose fully electrifying buildings, and has leveraged its relationships with municipal governments and gas utility corporations to its advantage: “Documents reveal that AGA recruits members of the American Public Gas Association (which represents municipal gas utilities), to take advantage of their government member status ‘to help ensure that AGA positions are successful’ at the International Code Council, which sets model building code standards that municipalities then adopt.”
Ben Lieberman is a “revolving door” gas industry insider working as a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute after spending nearly a decade working as a congressional staffer for the House Energy & Commerce committee as well as the Heritage Foundation.
- Lieberman is a Repeat GOP Witness. Lieberman is a repeat witness for Congressional Republicans, having appeared on Capitol Hill just a few weeks ago at the invitation of Senate Republicans to testify at a hearing on regulating aviation technologies.
- Lieberman Is A Right-Wing Media Mainstay. Lieberman is a frequent face on right-wing media, writing columns and taking interviews attacking the Biden administration at every turn. The author of such headlines as “5 ways Biden is still coming for your gas stove” “Biden’s cold war,” and “Yes, Biden bears blame for gas prices,” Lieberman has made a career out of turning energy policy into a culture war issue to hurt the Biden administration politically.
- Liberman Opposed The Inflation Reduction Act Because It Supposedly Attacked Natural Gas Use. In August 2021, Lieberman announced his opposition to the Inflation Reduction Act, which invested billions into domestic energy production, telling talk show host Ross Kaminsky the proposal would “attack natural gas use.”
Kenny Stein is a “revolving door” energy industry advocate serving as Vice President of Policy for the right-wing Institute for Energy Research and the Director of Policy and Federal Affairs for the American Energy Alliance, with over a decade of experience working in conservative energy policy.
- Stein Is A Right-Wing Revolving Door Activist. Stein has jumped from working directly for John McCain, the Republican National Committee, Senator Ted Cruz (for nearly five years), conservative advocacy group FreedomWorks, and finally right-wing legislation farm American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) before settling in as an energy policy wonk.
- Stein Works For A Koch-Funded Fossil Fuel Industry Front Group. Stein works for the Institute for Energy Research and its independent grassroots affiliate American Energy Alliance, which has received millions from groups linked to the Koch brothers and a maze of shadowy right-wing subsidiaries. The Institute has been described as an “industry front group” conjured up to attack the Obama administration-era Environmental Protection Agency through climate change denialism.
- Stein Is A Climate Change Skeptic & Biden Critic. Stein himself is a climate change skeptic who is known for criticizing any and all efforts to reduce emissions, writing “climate change policies often pose a greater risk than climate change itself” less than a year ago. He even attacked President Biden’s decision to stabilize oil prices through the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, instead wanting to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.