fueling us forward

Minority Communities in Virginia "Push Back on Koch Brothers," Call Fueling U.S. Forward a "Distasteful Effort"

Kids on a Richmond City Public Schools bus

Religious leaders and environmental justice activists in Richmond, Virginia, are “pushing back” against the Koch-funded Fueling U.S. Forward campaign’s efforts to target minority communities while promoting the “importance of domestic oil and natural gas to making people’s lives better.”

One element of the strategy to win the “hearts and minds” (as Alex Fitzsimmons of Fueling U.S. Forward put it) of minority communities was on display in Richmond, Virginia, last December, when the group threw a gospel concert that included pro-fossil fuel propaganda and a surprise award payment of four attendees’ electric bills.

Fueling US Forward Presents Scholarships to Black Youth in North Carolina, Recalling Kochs' Troubling History on Education and Race

Student in front of a school

The fossil fuel industry's effort to “start winning hearts and minds” arrived at a Baptist church in North Carolina recently in the form of three $1,500 scholarships for local high school students and a talk by Hubbel Relat, a Fueling US Forward representative, at a summit hosted by the Roanoke Valley Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

The $1,500 scholarships, which local news reports said were aimed to help the students pursue careers in the energy industry, were a part of a broader effort by Fueling US Forward to tout the “positives” of fossil fuels and to bring that message specifically to black communities.

Alex Fitzsimmons

Alex Fitzsimmons

Credentials

  •  B.A. in political science from The George Washington University. [1]

Background

While Oil Front Group Touts Cheap Fossil Fuel to Low-Income Families, Industry Negotiates Deal to Drive World Oil Prices Up

Fueling U.S. Forward, an oil industry PR group, has spent the second half of 2016 running an on-the-ground campaign targeting African-American communities and spreading a message focused on energy prices, a front-page New York Times investigation reported on January 5.

The organization's tactics included sponsoring a Richmond, VA gospel show where a few lucky families could win up to $250 off their household energy bills — though the music was paused mid-concert for a panel discussion about fossil fuels.

New York Times Examines Fueling U.S. Forward, the Koch-Funded "Exploitative, Sad and Borderline Racist" Campaign

Back in August at the Red State Gathering in Denver, Fueling U.S. Forward President Charles Drevna revealed that one of the campaign's major strategies would involve targeting minority communities. A remarkable article just published by The New York Times reveals how the group is enacting this strategy, hosting and supporting events in minority communities while promoting the “importance of domestic oil and natural gas to making people’s lives better,” as Drevna put it.

Eddie Bautista, executive director of the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance, called the Fueling U.S. Forward campaign “an exploitative, sad and borderline racist strategy.”

New Koch-Funded Group ‘Fueling US Forward’ Aims to Promote the "Positives" of Fossil Fuels

A long-awaited campaign to rebrand fossil fuels called Fueling U.S. Forward made its public debut at the Red State Gathering 2016 on Saturday, where the organization's President and CEO Charles Drevna gave attendees the inside scoop on the effort, and confirmed that the campaign is backed financially by Koch Industries. 

Back in February, Peter Stone first reported in the Huffington Post that a $10 million-a-year effort was proposed by a Koch Industries board member, James Mahoney, and Mr. Drevna, aiming “to boost petroleum-based transportation fuels and attack government subsidies for electric vehicles.” In early August, the Fueling U.S. Forward website launched, and on Saturday, the first public comments were made about the campaign by Mr. Drevna, and they revealed a lot about how the Koch-backed initiative is working to re-frame fossil fuels. 

“We need a sustainable energy to ensure the future of the country,” Mr. Drevna told the audience.

The source of that energy? That which Mr. Drevna labeled “reliable, abundant, efficient and sustainable fuels.”

“Folks, that's of course the fossil fuels,” he immediately added.

Subscribe to fueling us forward