I’ll admit it. I had just about despaired of any Republican acknowledging the climate crisis, let alone proposing anything to address it. And then the Republicans of the Ohio Senate rode in to save the day! Yes, the state of Ohio has just legislated that natural gas is “green energy.” And therefore any effort by the state to increase renewable “green” energy must include more natural gas. After all, it is green, compared to coal.

Also, Pol Pot, compared to Hitler, is a peach of a fellow responsible for the deaths of only two million Cambodians, and they’re tiny.

The term “natural gas” was already a bit of intentional magic for fossil fuel fans. It’s been shown that people view “natural gas” more favorably than “methane gas” (aka natural gas). And it is natural, just like cyanide and arsenic and mercury and coal, inasmuch as it occurs naturally in nature, and all you need to do to liberate it is blast it out of rocks with a crapload of drinking water or, in the case of coal, blow up mountains.  As a molecule containing carbon and hydrogen, it’s also by definition organic. Yes. Methane, the powerful greenhouse gas, is natural, organic, and gluten-free. Methane is the Golden Retriever Puppy of climate-destroying fuels.

The entire idea of declaring methane “green” by decree was thunk up by a nonprofit organization called Empowerment Alliance. “Empowerment” is another word that scores well in polling. You know, as in empowering girls, empowering the poor, or, in this case, empowering the methane industry, which is the sole focus of this particular nonprofit. None of the principals of the Alliance profit in any way from their efforts to promote the sacred right to take all the money that is humanly possible out of the ground before we fry our only home.

So the Empowerment Alliance developed model legislation to simply redefine natural gas as clean energy, and then looked around for someplace to stick it. An opportunity arose in Ohio, which coincidentally is parked over a buttload of methane and coated with gas-powered politicians. It was simply a matter of finding a bill to attach it to, and that’s where the chickens come in.

There was a bill coming up to change the minimum number of chicken chicks that can be purchased from six to three, and there was no resistance to it in the Senate.

Evidently there is a minimum number of chicks that can survive two days’ shipping, because they keep each other warm. Used to be six, but maybe three would work. Maybe you’d only get two live chicks out of it but maybe that’s all you really wanted. Not six. Anyway. Important legislation. All that was left was to paper-clip a couple little amendments to the chicken bill, a little legislative Post-It, and bingo, the Empowerment Alliance has had a nice day.

So at the last minute, Ohio Senate Republicans stuck the amendments onto the chicken bill like poop on a tail feather, and, weirdly, all of the additions benefited the fossil fuel industry. For instance, they make it easier to drill for oil and gas in state parks. And, as previously noted, they state that “green energy” must include energy generated using natural gas as a resource. The governor, Mike DeWine, who by sheer chance is also a Republican, acknowledged the criticism of the language change but signed the bill, stating that any concern with the amendments was not worth vetoing the entire bill. With the drilling, and the chickens, and all.

“Americans should be free to order a smaller number of chicks,” thundered a spokesman for the governor. “No matter what the Democrat elites think, not everyone can afford six chicks, and the American people are going to need all the breaks they can get once we tank their Medicare and Social Security.”

He was just getting warmed up. “Not only that, the Dems also want to take away our gas stoves!” The Democrat in the back with her hand up waiting for the bellowing to stop wanted to point out that Republicans want to take away our children’s futures, but she’s still waiting.

Tom Rastin, who leads the entirely not-for-profit why-would-you-think-anything-else Empowerment Alliance, is listed as an executive at Ariel Corporation, a manufacturer of natural gas compressors and small gas-heated chicken packaging units. He is irked that states have begun to mandate renewable energy requirements and environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing standards, which do not favor fossil fuels. Fortunately, redefining clean energy to include methane takes care of all that.

Even better, since it went so well in Ohio, the very same model legislation can be introduced in other states as well. Recycled, as it were. The Empowerment Alliance is all about recycling and efficiency, Rastin crowed. Furthermore, there’s a continuous 100-year supply of green natural gas. If that’s not sustainability, he says, he doesn’t know what is. He just doesn’t.

But he pushes back on the idea that the Empowerment Alliance is solely devoted to promoting methane extraction. The alliance also spent more than a million dollars supporting Ohio Republicans in the 2022 election. “We’re devoted to small-D democracy,” he explained.