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The South Carolina primary is coming up on the
final day of February. It will be a day when the nation’s political attention will be centered on the Palmetto
State. For Alex Stroman, that is a familiar feeling.
Stroman, the Government Affairs & Community Relations Manager for TC Energy—formerly TransCanada—has been involved in politics for most of his life. Born, raised and educated in South Carolina, his first job out of college was with the South Carolina Republican Party, ultimately becoming the Executive Director at age 23, at the time making him the nation’s youngest person to hold such a position for a state party.
His work also included a communications role in the state treasurer’s office and on a statewide lieutenant gubernatorial campaign. He has always enjoyed working with the press and crafting messages, skills that have helped him in his current role. “Having that background has been important for creating grassroots strategies and understanding the political realities of certain projects and for accomplishing our goals in the halls of power in states and municipalities across the country,” he said.
After cutting his chops at the state level, Stroman moved to Washington, D.C., where he served as the Director of Surrogates and Media Training for the Republican National Committee during the 2016 election cycle. He also managed the surrogate program at the Republican National Convention and for the three presidential general election debates, spending the final three months of the election detailed to the campaign in Trump Tower in New York City. He later became the Deputy Communications Director for the 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee, which he called a “huge logistical undertaking.”
From there, he briefly returned to the RNC headquarters, serving as a spokesperson for the nomination of Justice Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, and worked for a non-profit supporting the president’s agenda during his first 100 days in office. Then, in July 2017, looking to broaden his professional opportunities, he joined what was then still TransCanada but which has since been rebranded as TC Energy.
Headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, with U.S. headquarters in Houston, Texas, TC Energy has operations in 37 states and landowner agreements in all 50. It has more natural gas storage than any other company on the continent, and 27 percent of the energy used in the country every day is transported through its pipelines, Stroman said.
Stroman’s portfolio has expanded quite a bit in his two-and-a-half years with the company and now includes government relations work in seven states: Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana and New Jersey. Not surprisingly, he is on the road a lot. “In total, I’ve spent 110 nights in Marriott properties (in 2019),” he said.
He became quite familiar with Ohio in just his first year on the job, predominantly with the Buckeye XPress project, part of TC Energy’s ongoing modernization program to update aging infrastructure, upgrade natural gas compression systems and increase pipeline reliability. Expected to be completed later this year, the project will replace about 64 miles of existing pipeline with safer, more reliable pipe.
Although the company has possessed a few different names throughout the past century, Stroman says TC Energy’s commitment to Ohio and the Appalachian region has never wavered. “The investments TC Energy makes in infrastructure, such as in southeast Ohio, change lives and better communities,” he said. “We engage with communities very honestly and transparently, and we make sure we are upholding our end of the bargain. We have a company motto about being a good neighbor, and I think that is something we go above and beyond in doing.”
Moving forward, Stroman feels strongly that the industry must be “ever-vigilant” in sharing its story to a wide audience regarding the positive impacts oil and natural gas have had on homes and businesses around the world. And he believes the Appalachian Basin is a significant part of that narrative. “There’s a good story to be told about the North American energy renaissance and what we’re seeing, mainly due to the shale plays in Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania,” he said. “In my role at TC Energy, I am gaining a deeper appreciation and understanding of what this region is doing to remake the American economy and to strengthen American national security.”
Why is sharing that story so important? Because the opposition is strong, motivated and good at distorting the many good things the industry has accomplished, Stroman says.
“It is important for the industry to continue to look for opportunities to explain, for example, that the reason carbon emissions are going down in the United States is because of clean-burning natural gas,” he said. “So we need to tell the story of what our industry does and how our lives would be completely different under something like the Green New Deal, which would erase all the gains we’ve made to our economy over the past handful of years and over the past generation.”
Additionally, he has seen tremendous value and benefit in forming bonds with what he calls non-traditional allies, which he says is going to be the “new frontier to combating the opposition.” For example, “showing that industry and labor are allies against an opposition looking to end our livelihoods is something that politically needs to continue.”
While Stroman is no stranger to OOGA events, his involvement in the Association is about to escalate. He was elected to the Board of Trustees last fall and began his first term at the beginning of the year. “I’m honored to represent my company as we grow within the organization and I am hopeful about where OOGA is headed in 2020 and beyond,” he said.
As a trustee, Stroman hopes his experience and background can provide a helpful perspective, but he is also looking forward to learning from and assisting the people who have “been around a lot longer than I have” and who have helped make OOGA what it is today.
At the same time, he is looking forward to building upon the relationship between TC Energy and Ohio. “We’re excited to continue being a part of OOGA and continue to help the industry grow in the state of Ohio in the way that we interact with our landowners and stakeholders across the state,” he said.
As for the South Carolina primary, we did not discuss his predictions on which candidate will win, but you can be assured Alex Stroman will be watching closely. Then, it’s only another 249 days until the general election, many of which Stroman will likely be spending in Marriott properties.