Launch of Pro-Fossil Fueling U.S. Forward Front Group Confirms Kochs Plan To Attack Clean Tech, Electric Vehicles

This month, a new oil and gas front group called Fueling U.S. Forward launched with a slick website, flashy GIFs, and infographics.

The launch confirms the recent investigation by Peter Stone that revealed the Koch brothers’ plans to attack electric vehicles and promote oil and natural gas interests. 

In his February article for Huffington Post, Stone talked to a number of industry reps familiar with the secretive campaign, and found that the Koch brothers through their networks plan “to spend about $10 million dollars per year to boost petroleum-based transportation fuels and attack government subsidies for electric vehicles.”

How do we know that Fueling U.S. Forward is the Koch vs. Clean campaign?

Stone’s article outlined how James Mahoney, “a confidante of the brothers and member of their company’s board,” has teamed up with Charles Drevna, recently a senior fellow at the Institute for Energy Research, to develop and coordinate the campaign with oil and natural gas industry leaders. 

At the Red State Gathering in Denver, Colorado on Saturday, Drevna confirmed to DeSmog reporter Sharon Kelly that Fueling U.S. Forward was being funded by Koch Industries

Drevna spoke at the event as CEO and President of Fueling U.S. Forward, and will again at the Energy Expectations Conference hosted by U.S. Energy in October in Minneapolis, Minnesota. 

From the speakers page of the Energy Expectations Conference
From the speakers page of the RedState Gathering
From the speakers page of the RedState Gathering

 

 

 

 

 

Drevna was until recently the head of the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, the country’s leading oil and gas refiners trade group. 

So after industry reps revealed in winter that Drevna was preparing this PR effort, this new campaign appears with Drevna at the helm. 

Another clear indication that Fueling U.S. Forward is the Koch-backed campaign was revealed through incorporation filings.  

Fueling U.S. Forward, Inc. was incorporated in Delaware on July 13, 2016, and lists its principal office address as 2300 WILSON BLVD STE 400A ARLINGTON, VA 22201 — the Navy League Building.

That puts it 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.

Who is Charles Drevna, the man atop Fueling U.S. Forward?

Charles Drevna is a veteran fossil fuel operative, with four decades of experience working for oil, gas, and coal companies, and for the national associations that represent them. 

In May 2015, Drevna joined the Institute for Energy Research (IER) as a Distinguished Senior Fellow, though he told DeSmog’s Sharon Kelly  this weekend that he is no longer with IER. The IER regularly attacks clean energy technologies and any government support for wind, solar, electric vehicles or other clean tech innovation. 

In that position with IER, Drevna testified against the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in November 2015 (you can read his testimony here. And, while in that position, he developed and launched Fueling U.S. Forward. 

Prior to joining IER, Drevna was the President of the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, the national trade association of oil and gas refineries.

When Drevna was named President of the trade group in 2007, it still went by the name of the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association (NPRA). While in that position, Drevna led the downstream industry’s attacks on the Waxman-Markey climate change bill in 2009.

According to Downstream Today, Drevna has a long career with fossil fuel interests:

“In the corporate world, he has held executive and supervisory positions with Sunoco and Consolidated Coal Corp., respectively. He has also held high-level positions with the Oxygenated Fuels Association and the National Coal Association. Drevna holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Washington and Jefferson College and has completed graduate-level work at Carnegie-Mellon University.”

You can read up some more on Drevna’s professional history here

Hamilton Place Strategies: the PR firm working for the Koch brothers on Fueling U.S. Forward

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

Hamilton Place Strategies was also listed as a sponsor of the Red State Gathering 2016, where Charles Drevna will be presenting as President and CEO of Fueling U.S. Forward. 

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

The firm has partnered with the Charles Koch Foundation to co-fund the Fiscal Challenge, a competition for college students to pitch fiscally conservative policy ideas. Hamilton Place Strategies also has a history of representing fossil fuel interests. You can read up more on Hamilton Place Strategies in this dedicated profile page

We’ll be tracking this Koch-funded, Drevna-lead, Hamilton Place-executed campaign as it develops. Check back for updates on how the Koch brothers are campaigning against consumer choice and innovation in the electric vehicle market.