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.

“[A Fueling U.S. Forward rep] discussed what high energy costs could mean for households in Richmond, which has a large African-American population,” Times reporter Hiroko Tabuchi wrote.  “And he encouraged audience members to contact their legislators to lodge concerns about energy costs, according to Clovia Lawrence, a local journalist and radio personality who helped host the show.”

That Richmond event wasn’t the only event Fueling U.S. Forward threw with the same basic theme. “Since its start in the spring of 2016, Fueling U.S. Forward has sent delegates to, or hosted, at least three events aimed at black voters, arguing that they benefit most from cheap and abundant fossil fuels and have the most to lose if energy costs rise,” the Times added.

Fueling U.S. Forward is funded by oil refinery and pipeline operator Koch Industries, as DeSmog reported this summer, and by an as-yet-undisclosed collection of other sponsors.

As the Times noted, Fueling U.S. Forward says it will focus on “people of diverse backgrounds … [including] low-income families — and share their stories.”

But at the very same time that the oil industry front group was out cheerleading low gasoline prices to low-income families, behind the scenes, the international oil industry was negotiating a deal designed to raise the price of oil worldwide.

Two major oil deals, announced in November and December, are expected to push oil prices higher — meaning that the relatively low gasoline prices…

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