Fueling US Forward

Fueling U.S. Forward

Background

Fueling U.S. Forward (FUSF) is a pro-fossil-fuel organization launched in August, 2016 and headed by former industry lobbyist and executive Charles T. Drevna. Drevna has described the group as a 501(c)(6) nonprofit business association, a designation that allows its involvement in both lobbying and political activities. [1], [2]

Drevna has confirmed to DeSmog that he is working with Koch Industries board member James Mahoney, and that Fueling U.S. Forward has received funding from Koch Industries[1]

FUSF describes itself as a “non-profit organization dedicated to educating the public about the value and potential of American energy, the vast majority of which comes from fossil fuels.” [3] Charles Drevna has claimed that Fueling U.S. Forward will target the “real people who have the most at stake” such as low-income or minority communities. [2]

In February 2016, investigative journalist Peter Stone first reported in The Huffington Post that a $10 million-a-year effort had been proposed by Koch Industries board member James Mahoney and Charles Drevna. The campaign aimed “to boost petroleum-based transportation fuels and attack government subsidies for electric vehicles.” [4]

Charles Drevna first spoke as President and CEO of Fueling U.S. Forward at the RedState Gathering in Denver, Colorado in August 2016, and was slated to speak again at the Energy Expectations Conference hosted by U.S. Energy in October in Minneapolis, Minnesota, but did not appear there. He was replaced on the agenda by Brendan Williams, executive director of the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers[5], [6]

Koch Vs. Clean

DeSmog launched KochVsClean.com on August 14, 2016 to examine the Kochs' role in creating and funding the Fueling U.S. Forward campaign and how this group fits into the Koch-funded network of organizations seeking to undermine clean energy technologies and innovation. Koch Vs. Clean also further examines the role of key individuals and organizations backing the FUSF campaign. Learn more below:

Individuals involved in Fueling U.S. Forward

Organizations involved in Fueling U.S. Forward

Fueling U.S. Forward & The Koch Brothers

Fueling U.S. Forward Strategy

The Fueling U.S. Forward campaign relies on arguments claiming the necessity and value of oil and natural gas. One banner image on the FUSF website boasts of “Innovation that Improves and Enriches Lives.”  According to the Fueling U.S. Forward website: [3]

“Energy is the basis of modern life and the engine of American innovation. A diverse energy mix – including fuels like oil and natural gas – is key to ensuring Americans continue to prosper and thrive.”

Elements of the campaign echo an April advertisement run by Koch Industries in The Hill that criticized solar energy and electric vehicles. According to the Koch Industries ad, “consumers should be able to choose the energy sources that best meet their needs free from government influence.” The ad goes on to criticize subsidies for solar power and “the tax credits (up to $7,500) the government offers to consumers who purchase hybrid and electric vehicles.” According to the Koch-sponsored ad, “Such credits may seem enticing to the general public, but the reality is that 90 percent of the beneficiaries come from the top income bracket.” [7] See some common EV vehicle myths debunked here.

Funding

Exact funding amounts received by Fueling US Forward are unknown at this time.

When Peter Stone first revealed the Koch's then-unnamed campaign plan in February, he noted that the group “hopes to spend about $10 million dollars per year to boost petroleum-based transportation fuels and attack government subsidies for electric vehicles, according to refining industry sources familiar with the plan.” [4]

The fact that Jim Mahoney is leading the effort appears to indicate that this is being driven by the business side of Koch,” said one refining industry source. Another source said, “I think they (are) approaching all the major independent refiners.”  [4]

The source also stressed that the new initiative is partly attributable to “electric vehicles and the subsidies for them.”  “They’re worried about state and community subsidies,” they said. “In 20 years, electric vehicles could have a substantial foothold in the U.S. market.” [4]

Key People

Actions

March 23, 2017

Fueling US Forward is listed as a sponsor of two panels at the AABE (The American Association of Blacks in Energy) 2017 National Conference including a panel of “Women in Power.” [20]

The first panel, “Conversation with the C-Suite,” consists of panelists Calvin Butler, CEO, Baltimore Gas & Electric Company; Joseph Hamrock, President and CEO of NiSource; Susan Story, President and CEO of American Water); and Rudolph Wynter, President and CEO of FERC Regulated business and New Energy Solutions. [20]

The second FUSF-sponsored panel is titled “Women in Power,” featuring panelists Donna Cooper, President of Pepco Region; Colette D. Honorable, Commissioner of of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; Rhonda J. Morris, Vice President of Human Resources at Chevron Corporation; and Morenike Miles, Vice President of Shared Services for Dominion Resources Services, Inc. [20]

March 8, 2017

FUSF was listed as a sponsor of the 2017 Pink Petro HERWorld Energy Forum, taking place on International Women's Day and addressing the “the energy transition, digital technology, workforce needs and opportunities, and the gender gap.” [21]

Alex Fitzsimmons, Fueling US Forward's Communications Director, was also listed as a speaker at the HERWorld event. [22]

Sponsors of the event included Shell, Marathon Oil Corporation, Enbridge, Tesoro, Seneca Resources, the United States Energy Association, Consumer Energy Alliance, and Texas Oil & Gas Association among numerous other groups. [23]

February 22 - 25, 2017

FUSF was a Partnering Sponsor of the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), among a range of other conservative and pro-industry groups. [19]

December 16, 2016

The New York Times reports that Fueling U.S. Forward sponsored a Christmas gospel concert in Richmond, VA.  [18]

“About halfway through the event, the music gave way to a panel discussion on how the holidays were made possible by energy — cheap energy, like oil and gas,” Hiroko Tabuchi writes at the New York Times. She notes that the concert's flier read “Thankful for the fuels and innovation that make modern life possible.” [18]

Eddie Bautista, executive director of the nonprofit NYC Environmental Justice Alliance, called the campaign “an exploitative, sad and borderline racist strategy.” FUSF has targeted minorities with the notion that they would be most affected by rises in energy costs, while Bautista notes that falling costs associated with renewable energy have made a shift away from fossil fuels a winning proposition for everyone.  [18]

The Richmond gospel concert was organized by FUSF as well as the nonprofit Reaching America and Radio One, which Tabuchi notes caters to black listeners. Four people were picked out of the crowd of 300 and told that their latest monthly electricity bills would be paid up to $250. [18]

August 22 - 25, 2016

Charles Drevna, working as President of Fueling US Forward, spoke at a Blacks in Government training session in Atlantic City, N.J. “He will continue to meet with a variety of groups in the coming months, he said, ticking examples off: Native Americans, inner-city residents, farmers, millennials, women and industry employees,” Climatewire reported[2]

While Drevna did not speak at the event, Climatewire said “ surrogates with Project 21, an initiative by the National Center for Public Policy Research for black conservatives, helped deliver his message, according to National Policy Alliance Executive Director Linda Haithcox.” [2]

The National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR) has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the oil industry and right-wing foundations, according to data from Conservative Transparency[9]

August 13, 2016

Charles Drevna first announced Fueling U.S. Forward at the 2016 Red State Gathering and confirmed that the campaign is backed by Koch Industries. DeSmog's Sharon Kelly attended the event and interviewed Drevna. [1][5]

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. [1]

DeSmog's Sharon Kelly reports that the top-line takeaway from Mr. Drevna's presentation was that the purpose of Fueling U.S. Forward is an effort to rebrand fossil fuels, focusing on the “positive” sides of oil, gas and coal. [1]

Drevna said at the Red State Gathering that “we are basically richer than ever before.” He quickly revised his statement, adding “as a world we are. As a nation we are basically richer than ever before.” [1]

According to Drevna, the oil industry has long “been engaged in asymmetric warfare.” He notes that “We're partnering with other organizations too, especially non-traditional allies like the minority community. Who in the heck gets hit hardest and fastest when there's an energy crisis and prices go up? They do.” [1]

Location & Address

According to the organization's SCC eFiling, Fueling US Forward's Address is as follows: [8]

2300 WILSON BLVD STE 400A
ARLINGTON, VA
22201-8415

That is known as the Navy League Building, and FUSF's suite is one floor below the office of Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, Inc., the Koch-funded political group whose staff and board are filled with long-time Koch Industries employees.

Related Organizations

Institute for Energy Research (IER)

Peter Stone reported in February that Charles Drevna, then Senior Fellow at the Institute for Energy Research, had teamed up with James Mahoney “a confidante of the [Koch] brothers and member of their company’s board,” to develop the FUSF campaign. [4]

American Energy Alliance (AEA)

The American Energy Alliance (AEA) is the “advocacy arm” of the Institute for Energy Research, and describes itself as a “not-for-profit organization that engages in grassroots public policy advocacy and debate concerning energy and environmental policies.”

Alghough Charles Drevna told DeSmog's Sharon Kelly that IER was not involved directly with Fueling U.S. Forward, it should be noted that Drevna worked on developing the campaign while he served as a Distinguished Senior Fellow at IER. Thomas Pyle, a long-time oil-industry lobbyist, serves as President of both IER and The American Energy Alliance. [1][10]

The American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM)

Both James Mahoney and Charles Drevna have served in leadership capacities at the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), a national trade association representing 98 percent of oil refining capacity in the United States. AFPM aggressively supports oil interests, and opposes any legislation that could reduce profits for their sector. For example, they oppose renewable fuel standards, support increasing domestic oil and gas production on public and private lands, and argue that the EPA has no authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. [11], [12], [13]

Hamilton Place Strategies

Hamilton Place Strategies is the PR firm chosen by Drevna (and, presumably, the Kochs) to run Fueling U.S. Forward. Hamilton Place is a policy and public affairs consulting firm that specializes in communications strategy and, as one reporter described, is run by a team that “have logged lots of hours on the front lines of spin.” [14]

Hamilton Place Strategies is run by Tony Fratto, former deputy press secretary in the George W. Bush White House and Bush-Cheney campaign communications specialist. [15], [16]

Partners in the firm are all predominantly GOP establishment veterans, many of whom have spent time on the Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign and the McCain-Palin 2008 campaign. [17]

Resources

  1. Sharon Kelly. “New Koch-Funded Group ‘Fueling US Forward’ Aims to Promote the 'Positives' of Fossil Fuels,” Desmog, August 14, 2016.

  2. Camille von Kaenel. “Group tells minorities, 'We need fossil fuels',” ClimateWire, September 6, 2016. Archived October 18, 2016. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/QTcEJ

  3. About,” Fueling U.S. Forward. Archived October 20, 2016. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/9tI3t

  4. Peter Stone. “The Kochs Are Plotting A Multimillion-Dollar Assault On Electric Vehicles,” The Huffington Post, February 19, 2016. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/jXPA4

  5. About the Event,” Red State Gathering. Archived October 17, 2016. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/S42PT

  6. Conference Agenda,” U.S. Energy Expectations 28th Annual Energy Conference. Archived September 12, 2016. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/6UmjC

  7. “All For All Forms of Energy” (PDF), Koch Industries. Retrieved from Kochvsclean.com. Archived .pdf on file at Desmog.

  8. SCC eFile: Annual Report for Fueling U.S. Forward, Inc (SCC ID: F2032714). Archived October 19, 2016. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/GTJf9

  9. National Center for Public Policy Research,” Conservative Transparency. Accessed May 12, 2016. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/UkmIU

  10. Pyle, Thomas J,” OpenSecrets.org. Accessed October 19, 2016.

  11. Policy Position - Renewable Fuel Standards,” AFPM. Archived October 11, 2016. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/UDzNV

  12. Policy Position - Increasing Domestic Oil & Gas Production,” AFPM. Archived October 11, 2016. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/SZsEw

  13. Policy Position - Greenhouse Gas Regulations,” AFPM. Archived October 11, 2016. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/geJX8

  14. Deirdre Tynan. “Manas Jet Fuel Suppliers Hire Top PR Firm,” Eurasianet.org, May 4, 2010. Archived October 20, 2016. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/RU4Gg

  15. Tony Fratto: Partner,” HPS. Archived October 20, 2016. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/ePRsq

  16. Tony Fratto: Former Bush Deputy Press Secretary,” LittleSis Profile. Accessed October 19, 2016. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/kunnS

  17. The Team,” Hamilton Place Strategies. Archived October 20, 2016. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/4ntSo

  18. Hiroko Tabucchi. “Sensing Gains Ahead Under Trump, the Kochs Court Minorities,” The New York Times, January 5, 2017. Archived January 9, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/abF3O

  19. CPAC 2017 Sponsors,” cpac.conservative.org. Archived March 6, 2017. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/SKFRU

  20. AABE 2017 NATIONAL CONFERENCE: MAKING ENERGY WORK FOR US,” CVENT.com. Archived March 17, 2017. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/2SqGX

  21. 2017 Theme: The Next Era of Energy: Lean In, All In, Join In,” PinkPetro HERWorld Energy Forum. Archived March 17, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/rpy9q

  22. 2017 HERWorld Speakers,” PinkPetro HERWorld Energy Forum. Archived March 17, 2017. Archive.is URLhttps://archive.is/1BZtl

  23. Inspiring the Next Generation of Energy Leaders,” PinkPetro HERWorld Energy Forum. Archived March 17, 2017. Archive.is URL: https://archive.is/uVzE9

Other Resources