Two years in the making, a coalition of business, education and labor interests has been formed in California to support natural gas and push back against climate change-driven policies for electrifying the state’s energy system.

The message by the coalition is that natural gas and renewable natural gas can help decarbonize and help the economy in the process of mitigating the negative potential impacts from climate change.

The Californians for Balanced Energy Solutions (C4BES) has broad goals of influencing legislative, regulatory and consumer awareness to inform the public about alternatives to electrification, according to Chairman Matt Rahn, who heads the Environmental Leadership Institute at California State University, San Marcos.

The natural gas industry and other stakeholders last year asked Rahn to form the activist group, which is keeping a California focus, Rahn told NGI in a brief interview.

“We’re trying to have as broad a reach as possible because we realize that the gas industry touches a lot of parts of the state,” he said. Besides educating general consumers, “we want to make sure there’s a conversation in the regulatory and legislative environment that recognizes the need for careful planning and balance.”

Rahn said regulators and legislators generally have reacted positively toward C4BES’s message to not shut out natural gas with climate change policy. “A lot of folks are pretty pragmatic about our energy future; they recognize it isn’t as simple as flipping a switch.”

The coalition has filed comments to an ongoing regulatory proceeding on commercial building decarbonization, and it plans to participate in a California Public Utilities Commission workshop on April 8.