Chesapeake Energy Corporation created a stir last month when its support of a campaign to promote the use of natural gas over coal in Texas became public. There’s nothing surprising about Chesapeake’s interest in promoting natural gas; it’s the third largest independent producer of natural gas in the U.S., according to its website. What is surprising is the approach of Chesapeake’s ad campaign: Coal is DIrty. One of the ads is pictured to the right. The company defends the campaign on the grounds that natural gas is a "clean" fuel, compared to coal, which is, to say the least, not clean.
But the campaign is also surprising for another reason. Chesapeake is still reeling from a $403 million dollar verdict returned against it in a West Virginia state court in January, following a trial in which gas well owners had alleged that Chesapeake systematically cheated them out of royalties. Here’s a post about the verdict and Chesapeake’s CEO’s reaction to it.
Chesapeake is entitled to promote natural gas and to compare its advantages to those of other fuels, in this case, coal. But it doesn’t make much sense to do so in a way intended to antagonize not only the coal mining industry, but the many residents of West Virginia who depend for their livelihoods on coal mining and related industries.