Top NY lobbying firm engaged in “climate hypocrisy” on NY HEAT Act

April 22, 2024

A New York lobbying firm leading the opposition to the NY HEAT Act, Bolton-St. Johns, on behalf of its client National Fuel Gas, also lobbies for climate mitigation and resiliency funds on behalf of several environmental clients, according to an F Minus review of lobbyist disclosure records. These environmental clients include the Waterfront Alliance, the Hall of Science, the Council on the Environment, and the Lake George Association, a dynamic that environmental groups denounced as “climate hypocrisy.”

“The firm of Bolton-St. Johns does a nice business representing environmental groups, helping them obtain funding to deal with the climate crisis. Then it turns around and leads the fight against the NY HEAT Act,” said James Browning, Executive Director of F Minus. “This is climate hypocrisy.”

Since 2023, Bolton-St. Johns has been paid $74,000 by National Fuel Gas. Over this same period it was paid $58,000 by the Council on the Environment to lobby for funding for the Council’s GrowNYC program; $70,000 by the Waterfront Alliance to lobby for funding for climate resiliency programs and community outreach about climate challenges; $120,000 by the Hall of Science on issues that included funding for a Sustainability and Resiliency Project; and $356 by the Lake George Association for work on state regulations dealing with harmful algal blooms, which are exacerbated by rising temperatures.

“Playing both sides of the climate crisis is bad enough,” F Minus’s Browning continued. “But Bolton-St. Johns is actually getting more money from environmental groups than it does from National Fuel, and the firm still comes down on the wrong side of the NY HEAT Act. It’s like paying firefighters to extinguish the fires they are setting themselves.”

“Hired gun lobbyists represent the interests of those who pay them—in this case fossil fuel interests and corporate polluters—and not the interests of the public,” said Stephan Edel, Executive Director of NY Renews. “It is a cautionary tale that lobbying firms like Bolton-St. Johns are working for clients actively undermining efforts to protect the health and well-being of our communities, particularly communities of color. When a firm represents a corporate polluter, they are materially and immediately harming the New Yorkers living on the front lines of the climate and environmental justice crisis—centrally, Black and Brown New Yorkers.”

“Bolton-St. Johns has a long history of leveraging its deep Albany connections to block climate action and expand oil and gas infrastructure in New York on behalf of fossil fuel industry clients from the American Petroleum Institute to National Fuel,” said Robert Galbraith, senior research analyst at LittleSis. “Environmental groups should think twice about spending their money with a firm so integral to the fossil fuel influence machine.”

In 2023-24, Bolton-St. Johns also lobbied on behalf of Friends of the Earth (Action), Inc. on A5682, The New York State Tropical Deforestation Act. Since 2023, the firm has been paid $30,000 by Friends of the Earth (Action) and $15,000 by Friends of the Earth.

In February, F Minus and LittleSis released a report on six other New York lobbying firms whose fossil fuel advocacy is exacerbating climate impacts faced by their other, non-fossil-fuel clients: Brown & Weinraub, Park Strategies, Ostroff Associates, Hinman Straub Advisors, MirRam Group, and Greenberg Traurig.

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