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.”
Times reporter Hiroko Tabuchi takes readers to a Fueling U.S. Forward-sponsored event—a gospel concert in Richmond, Virginia—where DJs surprised some attendees with a free month of utility bill payments and regular shout-outs to fossil fuels.
Though few in the crowd knew it, the concert had a powerful sponsor: Fueling U.S. Forward, a public relations group for fossil fuels funded by Koch Industries, the oil and petrochemicals conglomerate led by the ultraconservative billionaire brothers David H. and Charles G. Koch. 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.
The concert flier was adorned with a red car bearing Christmas gifts. “Thankful for the fuels and innovation that make modern life possible,” it read.
The Times again confirms that Koch Industries is funding Fueling U.S. Forward, a fact first revealed by DeSmog’s Sharon Kelly in her report on the August Red State Gathering.
As Tabuchi notes, this strategy to sing the praises of fossil fuels represents a new turn for the Koch’s approach to energy and climate, which has traditionally “involved financing research skeptical of climate change, backing pro-oil politicians and ballot initiatives, and fighting incentives for renewable energy, all through a network of charitable and political organizations.”
The article’s headline, “Sensing Gains Ahead Under Trump, the Kochs Court Minorities,” lays out the context of how the Kochs are emboldened by yhe imminent Trump presidency. And why shouldn’t they be? As we’ve tracked on Koch vs Clean, the Trump transition team and administration are both filling up with Koch allies and affiliates.