The Sierra Club has come out for the U.S. natural gas industry, and not for imported natural gas: The organization is supporting domestic production, as it would also like to see U.S. energy independence, says Carl Pope, executive director. Pope visited with industry leaders in Houston recently and spoke to Oil and Gas Investor magazine. View the video and the entire transcript: Oil and Gas Investor’s Interview With The Sierra Club’s Carl Pope. The Sierra Club is so opposed to coal as a fuel source that it has come out in support of U.S. natural gas, according to Pope’s comments. It still favors renewable fuels—solar and wind—more than fossil fuels, but among fossil fuels, it favors natural gas, says Pope, who became executive director of the roughly 700,000-member organization in 1992 and has seen some 150,000 members added during that time. Pope has been on the Sierra Club staff for some 30 years. Pope says, “There’s a lot of opportunity—people in the natural gas industry tell me—to produce more natural gas domestically by using new technologies, and we’re in favor of that.” As for LNG, “taking a bunch of natural gas from Indonesia and moving it to the United States is intrinsically not terribly efficient, so we would rather see what we can do with domestic production here in the United States before we start substituting imported natural gas for imported oil.” Will the Sierra Club assist the natural gas industry in getting its message before Congress? Pope says, “Our primary message to Congress is to say we need to end the system in which fuels like coal and oil that do a lot of damage to the environment actually get subsidized for the damage they do, and fuels like gas and renewables that don’t do that kind of damage actually don’t face a level playing field. So, our message to Congress is that we ought to level the playing field…Right now both renewables and natural gas are facing a playing field that is not fair, and our message is to Congress is “'Let’s have a fair playing field.'” The industry gathering at which Pope made his remarks included Aubrey McClendon, chairman and chief executive of Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy Corp., and a Top 5 U.S. gas reserves-holder. Less than 10% of Chesapeake’s production is oil, and 100% of Chesapeake’s targeted long-term production is natural gas. McClendon became vociferous in 2007 against the coal industry, prompted by a Texas electric-power producer’s plan to build more than a dozen new coal-powered plants, and is the founder and chairman of American Clean Skies Foundation, a public-education and political lobbying organization that argues for non-polluting fuel sources, including natural gas. The Sierra Club has been well known in the oil and gas industry as taking a contrarian view of energy policy on the ground—contrarian to that of the oil and gas industry. The organization is now taking policy to the air—air quality, that is—and sees eye-to-eye with the U.S. natural gas industry—at least. -- Nissa Darbonne, Executive Editor, Oil and Gas Investor, A&D Watch and Oil and Gas Investor This Week,