Thursday, Oct 15- Suzanne Ogle from the Southern Gas Association joins Jim and James to talk about “Take Action Month” and other initiatives going on right now.
Jim Schauer: [0:11] Good morning everyone. To all of our followers for months and months, years maybe, and all those newcomers, welcome to another exciting episode of “Coffee with Jim and James.”
[0:21] James, I got to tell you, before I turn it over, something, maybe it’s through osmosis. I’ve been feeling like taking charge, taking action, you know. And I keep saying to myself, you know, “Is the key to it natural gas?” Maybe I have those words jumbled up. You think our special guest might be able to help me assemble those words in the right order?
James Cross: [0:43] No doubt about it, Jimmy. Good morning. How are you?
Jim: [0:46] I’m good, sir. How are you?
James: [0:48] I am pumped, man. We have a super‑special guest today, Jimmy, over there. Let’s see. Is it this way? We have Miss Suzanne Ogle from the Southern Gas Association. Good morning, Suzanne.
Suzanne Ogle: [1:05] Good morning. Thank you for having me on the show. I listen to it all the time. I’m excited to be on with you.
James: [1:13] You are the first person to ever say that, so you’re welcome to come back…
Suzanne: [1:19] Good. When you run out of…
James: [1:22] anytime you want.
Suzanne: [1:21] let me know.
James: [1:22] I tell you what I’ve started to do. It’s kind of funny when you make something like this. Jim, you can tell me what you do. When you have a show like this, I don’t find myself going back and watching them a lot. We get them, we lived through it, we record it. Then we push it out, and it’s on to the next one, on to the next one.
[1:40] Here, lately, we’ve been transitioning back to the office a little bit more and hit the office. I have a little bit of drive time, not a lot, but it allows me some time. I find myself listening to it while I drive.
[1:53] I’m not necessarily watching it, obviously, I’m driving. I’ll put it on and listen to it like a podcast. I keep trying to talk Jim…I think we’re going to go the way of the podcast. Jim, do you find yourself listening to it?
Jim: [2:07] Just for fun. We started this as therapy, James, being of COVID, as just a way to outreach to people and to feel like we’re getting out. It’s fun to go back to the beginning ones because our style was so much different. It’s like, “Should we say this now? Should we not say that now? Should we say that?”
[2:25] Now it’s much more free‑flowing and conversational. It’s fun. It’s great to make fun of myself. I show the grandkids, and they are like, “What are you doing?” It’s fun.
James: [2:40] My daughter will walk by, Suzanne, and she’ll see Jim on a Zoom call, just a normal Zoom call meeting. She’ll go, “Oh, there’s Jim from Jim & James.”
Suzanne: [2:49] [laughs] That’s fun.
Jim: [2:50] Oh.
James: [2:50] So, we’re kind of a big deal. We’re super famous now.
Suzanne: [2:53] [laughs]
James: [2:53] But, Suzanne, [laughs] obviously we’re not here to talk about us today even though we spend all that time. I tell you what, to get people ramped into it, tell us about…Tell us obviously your role, but tell us about the SGA ‑‑ for those that maybe are not involved in it ‑‑ and what you do for the SGA.
Suzanne: [3:15] So, I’m going to tell you first it’s not the Student Government Association which is an [inaudible] acronym that we also happen to share. So…
Suzanne: [3:24] Then I’m certainly not a teenager or a college student but…So, SGA, Southern Gas Association, been around since 1908. The operators got together when they were building all the pipelines when America was growing, and they wanted to solve the problems that were there.
[3:40] Started in the south, hence the name, but our members are from California to Delaware. So, “Southern,” not so relevant anymore, but definitely we have producers, midstream companies, transmission companies, municipals. So, it goes the entire gamut of the industry.
[3:59] Really, the focus for us is training and education. So, we’re not an advocacy…Well, we do advocacy, but we’re not a lobbying organization. So, we don’t do any lobbying at all, but we do do advocacy for the industry, and so.
[4:12] I’ve been there since February of 2019, which has flown by and it’s also [inaudible] all at one time. Have new bags under my eyes.
James: [4:21] I always say, “It’s a…That was a million years ago, just yesterday.”
Jim: [4:25] Yeah.
James: [4:26] For sure.
Jim: [4:27] True. Suzanne, let me…I’ve been a member of the SGA for just a short amount of time, 11 years. I…you know, so many of our colleagues have been members for decades and decades, but I have the utmost respect for everything that you just talked about that you do for the industry, for the constituents, the people, safety, all those.
[4:47] You know, I was kind of making a little bit of fun and, you know, having a little bit of fun this morning, but Take Action Month. That’s a huge initiative. I…We’ve seen it. We’ve seen it over LinkedIn and emails and meetings and such. Can you bring us up to speed on Take Action Month?
Suzanne: [5:04] Absolutely. It’s really exciting. It was the brainchild of Don Rakes, who’s our chair this year. He’s the president of Gas Distribution for Dominion. He, you know…I think we’re all facing in a situation where we are frustrated with…
[5:19] As professionals, we understand the importance of natural gas in the energy chain and how we’re going to get there, and that it’s a partner to renewables, not a competitor.
[5:29] You know, I think the whole point of Natural Gas Take Action is to empower, to strengthen the message, to increase knowledge, and to support the members of the Southern Gas Association and other people out there in our industry.
[5:42] So, the…It’s a whole month. All the month of October, and it’s going well. I guarantee you that we’ll be doing it again next October. My plan is to make it every October going forward.
James: [5:53] Awesome.
Suzanne: [5:54] It’s really about giving a voice to our industry.
Jim: [5:58] OK.
James: [5:58] Yeah. Suzanne, you said…When I first heard about it, I heard it come about proxy. I knew y’all were doing something over there. You wouldn’t tell us what you were doing. You were being all sneaky. [laughs]
Suzanne: [6:08] We couldn’t. But when it came out, and I saw the email from Matt first, came through and I was like, you know, this to me sounds like ‑‑ in a really good way, I mean this as a compliment, I love the Natural Gas Champions program ‑‑ this is like a public‑facing, let’s put it all out there, version of that on steroids. Am I right, wrong, indifferent?
Suzanne: [6:32] No, you’re right. So, you know, we do have Natural Gas Champions, and that’s a course that anybody can go through. James wrote a…
James: [6:40] I’m a champion.
Suzanne: [6:41] pages in my book, that will be coming out at the conclusion of Take Action month. But this really has several different spokes to it. So, one of them is education.
[6:48] So, like, just this morning I was on a Town Hall webinar with Don and Jimmy Staton, who’s the CEO of Southern Gas, and Arthur Corbin, who’s the CEO of MGAG, Municipal Gas Authority of Georgia, and we were talking just generally about gas past, present, future, and where does it fall in there.
[7:07] We had…Alex Epstein launched with a very…really important, and I think purposeful, webinar about human flourishing and natural gas, and how that’s part of it. And then, we have some on hydrogen, on decarbonization, there’s just an assortment of education webinars to really help people school‑up in their conversation around natural gas.
[7:30] And then just the grassroots effort of just…We have a whole bunch of assets we’re putting out there, whether they’re daily facts, I’m writing a bunch of pieces on LinkedIn, and we really just want to help change the narrative, and maybe through that somebody can have an “Aha” moment, right?
[7:46] So, there’s a lot of negative information coming forth from the media, and from activists, and what we want to do is help people connect, really through these grassroots efforts, with personal stories about how natural gas positively affects their lives, their businesses, their communities.
[8:03] And I think the point of a grassroots effort is really to bring the voice of the American people. The regular average citizen. It’s like your family, my family, instead of hearing all the noise from people out there that have an agenda, that don’t really have the information about how they’re going to get there.
Jim: [8:22] A question for it. I just want to build on that, because you brought us some really good points. In the news lately, I’ve been hearing and seeing a lot about net‑zero, and, you know, a lot of people get on that. And yes, net‑zero, and…but there’s so…It’s so complex when you look at those two little words. There’s so much involved to it. Thoughts on that, on the net‑zero?
Suzanne: [8:45] Yeah, no, net‑zero’s really interesting, like, there’s so many countries, and cities, and companies that are now starting to pledge net‑zero by 2050. You know, originally that came from the Paris Climate Accord. I think that there’s estimates that collectively say like, net‑zero pledges represent 25 percent of the world’s emissions, now…and 50 percent of the global output.
[9:05] Now, I don’t know what the power shift, where that is, because of the reduced demand for power with COVID and everything else, but you still have lots of countries internationally that are not even beginning to pledge net‑zero, and so it’s a shift of carbon from one area to the other.
[9:20] But listen, our companies…our member companies, lots of people in the industry are making pledges on net‑zero as well. And what net‑zero means, is residual emissions can be offset, right? So you have to really understand what does net‑zero mean.
[9:35] We had a webinar last week on decarbonization, and when you look at the net‑zero plans, most of the companies have an increase of natural gas in order to get to the net‑zero.
[9:46] So, what worries me is that there is net‑zero plans, but they have to have a meaningful way of achieving that, and natural gas is really one of the most meaningful ways to achieve that.
[9:59] So, when you look at the policies that could potentially be set for us, where they reduce, or want to eliminate fracking, which was…is what makes gas accessible at this level that allows us to reduce, and to have reduced the carbon significantly.
[10:18] Those policies could really get in the way of achieving the goals of net‑zero, and that’s kind of scary when you think about it from our perspective, where we understand how it all goes together.
James: [10:27] Right.
Jim: [10:28] Hey, and just pull on that, I was just going to say, it’s a good point, because if you just have pieces of the pie for the puzzle without putting them all together, you don’t see the whole picture, and that’s…You brought up a very good point about that, Suzanne. Very good.
Suzanne: [10:42] You know, I mean…
James: [10:42] Suzanne…Oh, go ahead.
Suzanne: [10:45] I was going to say, so, you know, when you look at residual missions, and they need to be removed from the atmosphere, that’s part of it, and the only way you’re going to get there is with natural gas, whether it’s through carbon capture and storage, whether it’s from a renewable natural gas, or a carbon sink such as force, or something like that.
[11:00] Those are the only ways you’re going to be able to reduce emissions. And if you cut off access to that, you’re not going to be able to make your goal. Sorry, sorry to interrupt you James.
Jim: [11:09] No.
James: [11:09] No, that’s great. Suzanne, another big part of it to me is in, in SGA voices that is part of this initiative really well. And that’s that, a lot of people don’t understand what all is a product of natural gas, right? They think it’s, it’s the guys running through the pipeline and that’s the only decisions we’re making.
[11:32] But what, what do you, what does the SGA do as far as, as highlighting those benefits, or that totality of products, if you will, from natural gas?
Suzanne: [11:45] That’s a really great point, right? So, I mean, I think the general public doesn’t have any understanding that natural gas is a feedstock and all the things that it produces. There’s, there’s a group called Life:Powered that made a fabulous video. James, you probably saw it in the natural gas training.
[12:00] And it starts with the second that you wake up in the morning. In your alarm clock going off, in your tires, in your car, in you rubber shoes, in your, you know, like everything. Pretty much anything and everything that is the modern convenience of the life and the quality of life that we have is a result of the product.
[12:16] In which, I mean, this is a really interesting point to me, particularly as we’re coming out of COVID, right? And so, they talk about healthcare, and they talk about this, but the products are made that are saving lives, are from natural gas, right? So, if you eliminate that, your accessibility to healthcare that is going to save lives is, is missing.
[12:38] I guess just, there’s so much more to the story and as professionals, it’s really challenging for us because we understand the complexity, and then you get people that really don’t. And I think that the key to this is that, that this is why the Take Action Month is important.
[12:54] So, yesterday, or I think it’s this weekend, you know, I grew up in California. So, I, you know like, my family’s fruits to nuts, really, is how it goes, right? And so, I…
James: [13:04] I was going to, I was going to say that explains a lot, but then go ahead.
Suzanne: [13:06] It does.
James: [13:08] [laughs]
Jim: [13:08] I didn’t say it. I did not say it. I, I was quiet during that one. Wasn’t I?
James: [13:12] I’m just a Texas boy stuck between Suzanne who’s from California, and Jim who’s in Florida. It’s pretty, a little bit fun guys. It’s probably fine.
Suzanne: [13:21] I like that. I have a house in Florida too. So, I’m, I’m over there too. But, so, I decided to go on my Facebook this weekend, and quote out the, “I’ll accept few video.” And, I, what I did essentially is asked them. I said, “How open minded would you be? Just exploring this idea. I’m not even asking you to change your mind, I’m not even arguing with you on your facts.”
[13:41] And, you know, I think I was, I was very far a blowback. I really think I was like, “Do I want to do this?” But really, I think that’s the key. Because we can share on our LinkedIn, but we’re on our LinkedIn, we’re all going to have essentially people that are somewhat touching us through some kind of a connection, right?
[13:58] And really where the impact comes from, is when you get to the families, when you get to your church. And you get to all these different people who maybe don’t have the exposure to the information that we have.
James: [14:09] No doubt. Jim, Jim, I’m going to give you all the power in the world right now.
Jim: [14:15] No.
James: [14:16] How does that feel?
Jim: [14:17] No. Do it. Are you serious?
James: [14:19] So, normally, Suzanne, I, I ask a very pointed question right now, but I’m going to let Jim do it today because he dressed so nice.
Suzanne: [14:29] Oh, I miss you.
Jim: [14:32] You know, I…
James: [14:32] He’ll do it just fine.
Jim: [14:34] I did the sport coat. I don’t wear the sport coat very often in Coffee with Jim and James as everybody knows, but today I put the sport coat on. I feel like I’m, I’m in the conference right now, and I’m walking up and I see Suzanne. And we haven’t seen each other since this COVID. And the first thing I’m going to say to you, Suzanne, is, “Do you love what you do?”
Suzanne: [14:55] Oh my gosh, that’s such an easy question for me. [laughs] I love what I do. [laughs] I, you know, I, when I, when I saw this job open, I knew this is what I wanted to do. And people ask me that. And I mean, I worked in the industry for 30 years. And I worked across all the different sectors of it.
[15:11] And I can’t think of a better job to be able to reach to touch all these different people in advance in industry. And just, I mean these, everybody. Yeah, I love the industry. The people are fantastic. The members of the SGA are fantastic. It’s such a generative place to be. I just, well, I can go on forever, but yes, I love it.
[15:30] But I do notice, Jim, that you are wearing the rebranded Energy Worldnet logo on your shirt. You just maybe need to pump it out a little bit there. Yeah, like that.
Jim: [15:40] I didn’t, I mean, is it noticeable? I mean…
Suzanne: [15:43] Can you tell me about the re‑branding real quick?
Jim: [15:45] Well, this is where I’m going to defer to our mastermind, the person that was behind us for, I’m going to say, for over a year, and that is Mr. Cross. I would love…
Jim: [15:56] James to say a few words about that.
Suzanne: [15:58] Yeah, please.
James: [15:59] Sure. Um, you know, about 18 months ago we had some conversations. We really wanted to bring everything back to our core. Which, we’ve been in business for almost 30 years. And so, we really wanted to get 100 percent every motion, every action we had focused around really creating the best user experience.
[16:18] And I don’t mean that just from the product. I mean that from the interactions to every email, every everything, right?
Suzanne: [16:26] Right.
James: [16:26] To create…If it’s not backing up that, then we need to look at it, and look a little bit deeper. So, you know, the look and feel is fantastic. We’re happy to update that also, but really, the commitment behind the new logo and the look, and feel, and action is what it’s all about.
[16:43] So, it’s been a blast, and super intense the last…If you can imagine being in lockdown. It was like double lockdown. You know, imagine working on your biggest project in your career, but doing it during a pandemic. It’s was amazing to go after.
Suzanne: [17:01] You know, I think the whole re‑branding that you guys did, you guys do a fabulous job. I mean, just…I have always enjoyed working with you, James. I met you right away. And, I just, you and Myra both are fantastic. Jim, I’m sure you’re good, too. I don’t know you…
James: [17:17] That’s all right.
James: [17:18] He’s decent.
Jim: [17:18] Decent.
Suzanne: [17:17] But listen, I mean, you know, this is really what the natural gas industry needs to do, too, is re‑brand, right?
James: [17:22] Yeah.
Suzanne: [17:22] And really focus on it. I mean, so, I think it’s really important. And congratulations to you. I know it was a huge lift…
James: [17:27] Thank you.
Suzanne: [17:27] and a big effort. But good job.
James: [17:30] Thank you so much.
Jim: [17:31] Thanks. Thank you, and again, kudos to James. And the exciting part about it, it wasn’t the end when we did the re‑branding announcement. It was actually the beginning. It’s almost like a PSMS journey, where James and his infinite mind, he’s like, “OK, over the next 18, 24, 36 months, this is where I see things.” And it’s just absolutely exciting to get a glimpse into James’ brain, because I’ll tell you, it’s a very complex area, very complex…
James: [17:59] That’s one way to say. That’s a very PC way of saying it.
James: [18:03] I’m sure my wife…My wife’ll be our guest next week, and she’ll have another way of saying how my mind works.
Suzanne: [18:09] You know, that’s just like Jimmy Fallon. You know, when he ran out of people, he started bringing his wife on, too. [laughs]
James: [18:14] Yeah, all right.
Jim: [18:18] Yeah, we’re…Although we have been blessed, we have guests that continue to want to come on, even after seeing the show, they still want to come on. So…
James: [18:25] Yeah.
Suzanne: [18:26] I saw Cindy on here, and I just said, “Hey, I want a turn.”
Jim: [18:29] Yeah, absolutely.
James: [18:29] Cindy’s coming back. We’re gonna have a whole…I think we’re gonna have a whole series about StrengthsFinder, and other, SoftSkills, there’s a lot of things for us to talk about.
Suzanne: [18:39] You’ve got to give her a whiteboard. She’s really good at it.
James: [18:42] Ah, she’s fantastic…
James: [18:42] All right. Oh, Jimmy, you want to take us out?
Jim: [18:46] Yeah, yeah, anything else we want to add, or everybody’s good for today?
Suzanne: [18:51] I’m good. Thank you…
James: [18:52] Suzanne, do you play that piano back there?
Suzanne: [18:55] My piano, yeah…
James: [18:57] Play us out.
Suzanne: [18:58] I get to play it every once in a while.
Jim: [19:01] Listen, I was…Suzanne, we cannot thank you enough for joining us today. We know your schedule is incredibly busy. You are working tirelessly for the natural gas industry. We thank you.
[19:12] And from your words today, too, I would encourage all of our listeners and watchers to do what you suggested ‑‑ go out and research and understand, and join the SGA, and take part in the webinars and the learning sessions, and the trainings and such like that. The more educated we are as a nation, the better we are.
[19:32] So, we can’t thank you enough. We encourage all of our viewers to connect with Suzanne, to follow the SGA. Follow James and I if you want to. You know, you don’t have to. But, if you can, we would appreciate the followers.
[19:44] And until the next episode of Coffee with Jim & James, it is absolutely my pleasure to say thank you on behalf of James and Suzanne today. Everybody, please stay safe. God bless you and God bless our industry. And until next time, we’ll see ya on…
Suzanne: [20:01] Go vote.
Jim: [20:02] Yeah, there you go. Yeah.
James: [20:05] And what’s the hashtag, Suzanne? #Gasiskey.
Suzanne: [20:06] Gasiskey.
Jim: [20:10] Gasiskey.
Suzanne: [20:11] [inaudible] for gas. Thank goodness.
Jim: [20:13] Follow the SGA, folks, follow. And connect with Suzanne.
Suzanne: [20:17] Thank you. I loved it. Happy to be on with you guys.
James: [20:20] Yeah, all right.