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Tag: "environment"

Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 114

[ 8 ] July 27, 2017 |

This is the grave of Hugh Bennett.

The father of American soil conservation, Bennett was born in 1881 in North Carolina. He graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1903 and went to work on soil conservation. This was a major problem in American agriculture. For basically the entirety of American agricultural history, farmers had not paid any attention to soil conservation. The cheap and often free land in a robust white settler colonialist society and economy gave farmers no incentive to stay on their land. This was especially true in the plantation agriculture of the South. Even today, after nearly a century of meaningful soil conservation plans, the scars of the first two centuries of plantation agriculture are still very much upon the land, including at Providence Canyon State Park in southwest Georgia, where what is today considered one of Georgia’s “7 Wonders” (who knew Georgia had any wonders?) is nothing more than massive erosion from cotton agriculture.

He rose to prominence in the 1920s as he began publishing widely on the problems of soil erosion. When he co-wrote Soil Erosion: A National Menace in 1928, he garnered the attention of leading politicians in Congress. This made his star rise. When Franklin Roosevelt became president in 1933, he already had a long-standing interest in conservation, including managing his own forested estate in Hyde Park. So Bennett was a natural fit in the administration. Roosevelt established the Soil Erosion Service in the Department of the Interior in 1933 and named Bennett its head. He became nationally known for speaking about the Dust Bowl, ravaging the southern Plains at that time. When the Soil Conservation Service was established in 1935, Bennett was the only logical head. He poured his energy into the Dust Bowl, bringing soil conservation to farmers who were often resistant to any kind of change at all, especially from the government unless it was a check. Identifying the parts of the Dust Bowl with the worst erosion and least potential, the government began buying up lands and returning them to something like their natural state, creating the National Grassland system, which aren’t among the most striking of federal lands to the casual visitor, but which are vitally important ecosystems. The SCS created research stations around the country to demonstrate to farmers how to improve their soil management, a process he started within the government during the 1920s. He called his employees “Soil Doctors” that were attending to the health of the land. He continued to write books such as 1941’s Soil and Security, stressing the importance of soil conservation to the nation’s future. Bennett retired as head of the Soil Conservation Service in 1951. He died in 1960.

Hugh Bennett is buried on the confiscated lands of the traitor Lee, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.

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Buying Environmental Protection from the Global Poor

[ 15 ] July 21, 2017 |

One strategy environmentalists sometime use in saving species is buying off the global poor, paying them to protect the environment rather than harvest it.

Now, a team of researchers has shown that there is a surprisingly cheap and easy way to slow the pace of deforestation in Uganda: Just pay landowners small sums not to cut down their trees. Their study, published in the journal Science on Thursday, demonstrated this by conducting something all too rare in environmental policy — a controlled experiment.

The idea of paying people in poorer countries to protect their forests has long attracted interest from those concerned about climate change. The United Nations set up a program, known as REDD Plus (for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation), to channel $10 billion from wealthy donors like Norway and Japan to poorer nations to slow deforestation trends responsible for about 10 percent of man-made greenhouse gas emissions each year.

The idea sounds simple: When trees are cut down and decompose or are burned, they release the carbon dioxide they soaked up from the atmosphere. Keeping them intact can help slow the pace of global warming.

The experiment itself compared deforestation rates in control groups, one getting paid, one not. And it showed that the payments help, if they don’t solve all problems. This is fine if western countries want to invest in it. The best case scenario here is that the people of Uganda rise to enough economic prosperity that they don’t need or want to destroy their own forests. The realistic scenario is that these programs last precisely as long as someone is willing to pay because these people will not become rich and even if they don’t, global corporations will seek to harvest these forests if they find enough of value in them.

Sad to say that we are in the middle of the Sixth Extinction and anything to forestall is well worth trying, but programs around rich countries paying poor countries are extremely tenuous and limited, even if you had good actors in those rich countries instead of, say, the Republican Party or the Tories. Sure, environmental organizations can raise money for these payments too, but that makes it even more tenuous and if you believe rich people are going to solve the world’s problems, well….

Nonetheless, there is no down side for at least trying.

The Wages of Nuclear

[ 41 ] July 12, 2017 |

This is a powerful long-form piece on how the Manhattan Project and its aftermath, with the utter indifference toward disposing of nuclear waste that partially defined its domestic impact, is still creating horrible health impacts on Americans today, with a focus on a uranium enrichment plant near St. Louis.

Dawn Chapman first noticed the smell on Halloween in 2012, when she was out trick-or-treating with her three young children in her neighborhood of Maryland Heights, Missouri, a small suburb of St. Louis. By Thanksgiving, it was a stench—a mixture of petroleum fumes, skunk spray, electrical fire, and dead bodies—reaching the airport, the ballpark, the strip mall where Dawn bought her groceries. Dawn could smell the odor every time she got in her car, and then, by Christmas, she couldn’t not smell it. In January, the stench hung in the air inside her home when Dawn woke her children for school every morning. “That was the last straw,” she told me recently. Dawn made a call to City Hall asking about this terrible smell. The woman on the phone told Dawn she needed to call the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, gave her the number, and abruptly hung up the phone. Dawn called the number, left a message, and then went on with her day.

Her youngest son was napping when the phone rang. Dawn was sitting on the top bunk in his bedroom folding laundry. The man on the phone introduced himself as Joe Trunko from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Joe spoke gently, slowly. He told Dawn that there is a landfill near her home, that it is an EPA Superfund site contaminated with toxic chemicals, that there has been an underground fire burning there since 2010. “These things happen sometimes in landfills,” he said. “But this one is really not good.”

Joe told Dawn that this landfill fire measures six football fields across and more than a hundred and fifty feet deep; it is in the floodplain of the Missouri River, less than two miles from the water itself, roughly twenty-seven miles upstream from where the Missouri River joins the Mississippi River before flowing out to the sea. “But to be honest, it’s not even the fire you should be worrying about,” Joe continued. “It’s the nuclear waste buried less than one thousand feet away.”

Joe explained how almost fifty thousand tons of nuclear waste left over from the Manhattan Project was dumped in the landfill illegally in 1973. He explained, so gently, that Dawn should be concerned that the fire and the waste would meet and that there would be some kind of “event.”

“Why isn’t this in the news?” Dawn asked.

“You know, Mrs. Chapman, that’s a really good question.”

It goes from there.

Even taking into account the creation of Superfund in 1980, the U.S. has never taken its toxic impact seriously. A big part of the reason for this is that people of color are pushed into neighborhoods near toxic sites and wealthy white people are far away. Like everything else about this racist nation, race plays a central role in our entire history of toxicity. The field of environmental justice appeared in the 1980s to deal with the history and scholarship around this, going along with local environmental justice campaigns that began in the 1970s as people, building on the civil rights movement, began to fight for their rights to not be poisoned. But as of this coincided with the long conservative movement that has perhaps reached its crescendo today, enforcement of the laws has slowly lagged and the money to clean this up disappeared.

What’s the Matter with Minnesota?

[ 83 ] May 11, 2017 |

Minnesota welcomes you sign at the state border

One of the most distressing things about modern politics is the Upper Midwest going hard right. The only states Clinton carried in the region were Minnesota and Illinois and she did poorly in the former, which was not too long ago one of the most liberal states in the U.S. But the home of Walter Mondale and Paul Wellstone is moving right very fast with a state legislature now controlled by Republicans in both houses. We are seeing the results in policy, such as the energy bill under consideration there.

Clean energy and environmental advocates are concerned that several provisions in a Minnesota Jobs and Energy Omnibus bill would remove regulatory oversight of programs, shift power from experts to legislators and potentially kills jobs in a growing sector.

The legislature is still debating the omnibus bill as the official adjournment of the session approaches on May 22. A floor vote is expected as early as today.

“It’s been an incredibly disappointing session, with anti-environment proposals and rollbacks and anti-clean energy efforts on all fronts,” said Margaret Levin, state director of the North Star chapter of the Sierra Club. “We’ve been certainly challenged to make sure citizen input is protected and basic standards for water, air and public health are left intact.”

Many provisions in the omnibus bill would “undermine strides in growing the clean economy and in combating climate change,” she added.

Attacks on science and the administrative policies that oversee air, water, health and climate — and taking decisions out of the hands of agency scientists and putting them into the “political arena” — “mirrors” what is happening at the federal level under the Trump Administration, Levin said.

In an email, Hamline University political science professor David Schultz says the legislature is attempting to “take away rule making authority” from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and making the process so cumbersome that “nothing can be done.”

The legislature’s “entire approach also runs against established judicial doctrine and opens the state up to significant litigation,” Schultz added.

The answers as to what’s wrong with Minnesota is the same as most places–resentment, racism, the decline of industrial work in some traditionally Democratic parts of the state such as the Iron Range. But if we have to fight for decency in Minnesota, not to mention fighting for the decent policies that state has long enacted, instead of fighting in other states that aren’t traditionally so friendly to liberals, we have an even longer fight than we think to get this nation back.

How Republicans Became the Anti-Environmental Party

[ 92 ] April 22, 2017 |

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The environmental historian Chris Sellers explores this issue for Earth Day. In the 1950s, many Republicans were among the founding environmentalists in Congress. And of course, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Congress was passing groundbreaking environmental laws by nearly unanimous votes (which is why it drives me crazy when Richard Nixon gets called a “liberal” for signing these laws). To say the least, things changed.

One strand of coalition-building emerged in the 1970s in the western states, where a so-called Sagebrush rebellion erupted among ranchers, miners, and other larger property owners upset over new environmental restrictions. Aspiring Republican politicians rode these issues into legislative takeovers in states like Colorado in 1976, by drawing support not just from rural but also from suburban voters.

Among the victors was a 34-old Republican lawyer named Anne Gorsuch representing Jefferson County, on Denver’s edge, who railed against regional planning as well as federal regulatory “overreach.” When reelected, Gorsuch attracted sufficient attention for former California governor Reagan to bring her in as advisor to his own conservative campaign for the presidency.

The other strand of early anti-environmentalism ran through the South, where traditional Democratic dominance was in flux. Democrats like then-Georgia governor Jimmy Carter embraced environmental causes. Some Republicans did as well. When college professor Newt Gingrich ran for Congress starting in 1972 in a West Georgia district extending into Atlanta’s suburbs, it made sense that he did so both as a Republican and an environmentalist.

But Gingrich kept losing until he noticed that rural lifelong Democrats rejecting his candidacy turned out repeatedly for a John Bircher Democrat running in a neighboring district who publicly questioned the constitutionality of both the EPA and national parks. Taking the cue, Gingrich won his first of many Congressional races in 1978 by dialing down his environmental rhetoric and cozying up to local industries that had run afoul of the new agencies and laws.

Riding these political tides to the White House, the early Reagan administration undertook a frontal assault on environmental agencies and regulation much like what we are now seeing. Gorsuch stepped into the EPA’s helm, hatching plans to cut its budget and personnel by half. Her Colorado colleague over at the Interior Department, James Watt, sought a similar devolution of control over federal lands; OSHA and FDA were also targeted.

But for these Republican anti-environmentalists, the power of the Presidency was not enough. A Democratic Congress, still bolstered by the party’s Southern bloc, stood in the way. Democratic committee chairs geared up for Congressional hearings that spotlighted the ensuing consequences and corruption at agencies under fire. The hue and cry then raised, and courtroom battles the Administration then lost, turned out to be much more than it had bargained for. Within two years, Gorsuch and Watt had resigned and restoration of federal environmental agencies was underway. A seminal Supreme Court decision in 1984, Chevron, Inc. vs NRDC, required judicial deference to environmental and other agencies’ interpretation of statutes, confirming their authority to regulate.

As moderate Republicans took over, federal environmental budgets and operations were restored, but the grounds were also being laid for a next war on the environmental state. The Heritage Foundation, established in the 1970s, enjoyed a heyday as an idea factory for tugging the administration to the right, and new think tanks established in the mid-1980s like the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy came to nourish a special hostility toward the climate issue. In the South, as well, enterprising Republicans such as Gingrich successfully moved to convert white Democratic voters to their party.

Newt and Neil “My first act as Supreme Court justice is killing a disabled black man” Gorsuch’s mom. What a gallery of rogues.

Republican Pollution Policy

[ 18 ] March 21, 2017 |

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Your Republican congresscritters:

Rep. Scott Perry was asked at a town hall in Red Lion on Saturday if he supported President Donald Trump’s proposed cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency in light of Pennsylvania’s “history of environmental problems.”

“Don’t we need a stronger EPA to protect the environment?” the questioner asked.

Perry, who has worked to restrict and limit the EPA’s abilities, didn’t directly answer the question.

Instead, he spoke of the Chesapeake Bay strategy, which he said was “forced on” the state and “left some violators out.”

Then he added:

“And by the way, some violators ― if you believe in, if you’re spiritual and you believe in God ― one of the violators was God, because the forests were providing a certain amount of nitrates and phosphates to the Chesapeake Bay.”

The crowd can be heard shouting in disbelief as Perry spoke.

“Oh, c’mon,” one person cried out.

The first thing everyone should learn about politics is that there is zero correlation between political success and intelligence.

Labor, Environment, Neoliberalism

[ 1 ] March 16, 2017 |

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I did this podcast with the environmental historian Michael Egan last week on the relationship between environmentalism and neoliberalism. This is actual neoliberalism, not the current definition of “someone in the Democratic Party who does something I don’t like” so commonly used on the left. The whole last half is a discussion on the relationship between the labor and environmental movements. Check it out.

This Day in Labor History: February 14, 1940

[ 8 ] February 14, 2017 |

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On February 14, 1940, a group of Navajos named Scott Preston, Julius Begay, Frank Goldtooth, and Judge Many Children wrote a letter of protest to their congressman, John Murdock of Arizona, against the livestock reduction program pressed upon them by Commission of Indian Affairs head John Collier. Noting how the program would radically transform their economy, driving them into greater poverty, they wrote, in part:

The Navajo Indians are not opposed to grazing permits as such, in fact we believe they heartily approve them if the manner of issuance is fair and the limits are sufficiently high to permit the family to exist.

For instance, in our own district (No.3) the sheep unit is set at 282. If a person has 5 horses, that would be the equivalent to 25 sheep; 1 head of cattle is the equivalent of 4 sheep. A Navajo family will consume 150 head of sheep or more per year depending on the size of the family. In addition to this amount, it is necessary to sell for their staples enough to keep the family from starvation. Then each family must be prepared to meet natural losses. We understand the families with smaller than the maximum are not permitted to raise that limit, but those above must be reduced.

282 sheep units is not sufficient for even the bare existence of a moderate size Navajo family without additional income, and such a policy will mean the impoverishment of the entire Navajo tribe.

The creation of Navajo sheep culture was already a response to the forced transformation of Navajo work culture around raiding and hunting in the face of white domination in 1860s, a phenomenon faced by many tribes during these years. Many tribes faced allotment under the Dawes Act, forced into small farming economies they were not equipped for and losing their lands to whites as part of the larger strategy to dispossess indigenous people of their land, culture, and work traditions.

The Navajo had begun integrating sheep into their work culture in 1598, as Spanish flocks wandered north out of Mexico into what is today the American Southwest, along with other domesticated animals that transformed what was possible for Native American life. While sheep and weaving became very important to Navajo life, it was originally another animal, the horse, that primarily redefined their work culture. Engaging heavily in raiding well into New Mexico, where they, along with the Comanches, made the Spanish colony and then Mexico, as well as the Puebloan peoples who lived there, reside in constant fear, the U.S. put a stop to this when, in 1864, the Navajo were rounded up and forced on the Long March to the Bosque Redondo in eastern New Mexico. There they were dumped for four years and about 25 percent of the population died. Reports of the conditions at the Bosque Redondo went public at the same time that the nation was engaging in Reconstruction and there was enough outrage in that rare moment when white Americans cared enough about people of color to do something to help that the Navajo were allowed to return to a large chunk of their lands, in no small part because it seemed to have no economic value to whites. But in doing so, they had to give up their raiding and horse culture ways. Sheep and weaving became ever more important to Navajo work culture after this.

In 1933, Franklin Delano Roosevelt appointed John Collier as Commissioner of Indian Affairs. For most tribes, this was a breath of fresh air. Collier rejected the corrupt and genocidal policies of the past, attempting to treat indigenous Americans as relative equals and respect their cultural heritage. Collier and New Deal land managers, heavily influenced by the Dust Bowl, saw Navajo sheep herding practices as incredibly destructive to the land and completely unsustainable. They noted the erosion transforming the land, the gullies turning into deep canyons, and the impossibility of this continuing for long. By 1931, the Navajo owned perhaps one million sheep on land with a carrying capacity of 500,000; they had only owned about 15,000 in the 1870s, but their population had also exploded from 8000 people in 1868 to 39,000 in 1930. So Collier acted, even though the Navajo themselves were not brought on board. Collier respected the Navajos, but felt he needed to save them from themselves. In 1934, the first of the sheep and goat slaughters took place. By 1935, the Navajos were actively resisting. People refused to sell their livestock to anyone who would kill them. By 1937, in the face of this resistance, Collier and the Department of the Interior issued a new plan setting a cap on the amount of livestock each extended family could own.

Weaving and harvesting the sheep provided about half the cash for the Navajos and nothing was done to replace that. Much of this loss was gendered. Weaving was the source of women’s income in a matrilineal society. It had provided women with economic authority even as the pre-1864 Navajo economy was forcibly terminated. They controlled their own means of production. Collier and the other New Dealers did not see this at all. Men handled the relationships with whites and so the New Dealers never even spoke to women, nor did they think of asking about them. With control over the means of production stripped away, masculine economic and political dominance was reinforced and the gendered norms of Navajo work and life were transformed.

The irony of this is that Collier was right. The Navajo were vastly overgrazing the land and they refused to admit it. It was absolutely not sustainable. But in the tradition of white northerners pushing their ideas of free labor upon African-Americans in the days after slavery without asking the ex-slaves what they wanted, Collier shoving his reforms down the throats of the Navajo without their consent resulted not only in a transformation of the intersection between work and culture, impoverishing many already poor people, but also created a long-term resistance to environmentalism still powerful on the Navajo Nation today.

The stock reduction program ended as the nation went into World War II and the government had bigger fish to fry. But it also happened in the face of widespread resistance, such as the letter that opens this post. In 1940, the Navajo Rights Association formed to lead the resistance to continued stock reduction. The government started threatening the Navajo with police power if they refused to hand over their livestock, which broke the resistance. John Collier started realizing that there was a problem with his program only in 1941, which was far too late. He relaxed some of the restrictions, but the damage to Navajo work and life was already done. An already poor people were made more impoverished. After World War II, many men would seek to escape that poverty through uranium mining, which would have enormous implications of its own on the health of the miners and work culture of the Navajo people.

The letter that opens this post was taken from Peter Iverson, ed., Dine Letters, Speeches, & Petitions, 1900-1960. You can read the whole letter here. Many of the other details come from Marsha Weisiger, Dreaming of Sheep in Navajo Country.

This is the 210th post in this series. Previous posts are archived here.

A Hideous Lie

[ 30 ] February 5, 2017 |
Children playing in the DDT fog left behind by the TIFA truck.  (Photo by George Silk//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)

Children playing in the DDT fog left behind by the TIFA truck. (Photo by George Silk//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)

I see people are once again going down the “Rachel Carson is a mass murderer” road. The idea is that because Carson sought to ban DDT, cases of malaria exploded and thus millions of people died. Pravda recently went down this road too.

In 2014, Google honored Carson on the 50th anniversary of her death, prompting this commentary from Breitbart News: “Will Google be paying tribute to any of the other mass killers of the 20th century? Hitler? Stalin? Mao? Pol Pot? Probably not. But then, none of the others have had the benefit of having their images burnished by a thousand and one starry-eyed greenies.” Breitbart in 2014 was led by Stephen K. Bannon, now chief strategist and senior counselor in the Trump White House.

I am not going to debunk the whole thing because this has been discussed many times. But the short version of it is that a) Carson did not call for the complete ban of DDT when it could save people’s lives, b) The U.S. ban on DDT in 1972 did not include other nations, where malaria was actually killing people, many of which never did ban DDT, c) her actual argument was not that chemicals should not be used to kill insects, but rather that the unregulated spraying of them everywhere all of the time had massive ecological consequences that would affect humans negatively too, d) mosquitoes were becoming resistant to DDT by its ban in 1972, e) much of the rise in malaria in the developing world in the 1970s had to do with decreased anti-malaria expenditures by governments, and f) DDT is still frequently used in the developing world.

This is a right-wing lie meant to discredit not only one of the finest Americans ever to live but the entire environmental movement. Never, ever believe it. Tell people who say it that they are grossly wrong and should never speak again about anything until they learn how to decipher truth from right-wing lie.

Richard Conniff has a more complete debunking here if you need it.

No to Federal Land Transfers

[ 24 ] February 4, 2017 |

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For most of you, the issue of western public lands is probably not as important as the other horrors that is the Republican policy agenda. But for a westerner, this stuff is exceedingly important, whether you are a hiker or you are Cliven Bundy. Jason Chaffetz, the most principled man in Washington except for all the others, and his buddies want to transfer millions of acres of western lands over to the states, which would lead to both far more limited public access and vastly more industrial development. But this was a bridge too far for westerners and Chaffetz has been forced to shelve it, for now at least.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) withdrew legislation Thursday that would have transferred 3 million acres of land from federal to state ownership, citing objections from constituents who complained that the move would limit access to public hunting and fishing grounds.

The Disposal of Excess Federal Lands Act, which would have shifted federal holdings to state governments in Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon and Wyoming, prompted an outcry among hunters and anglers’ groups. Introduced three weeks after House Republicans enacted a rule change to make it easier to sell off federal land, the measure prompted two separate rallies in Santa Fe, N.M., and Helena, Mont., this week that drew hundreds of people opposed to the measure.

A wide array of outdoors groups praised the move.

Aaron Kindle, Western sportsmen’s campaign manager for the National Wildlife Federation, said in a statement that his group appreciates “that Mr. Chaffetz listened” to those opposed to the bill.

“This loss would have forever robbed the American people of the amazing bounty these and all public lands provide,” Kindle said. “Another good move would be to withdraw the recently approved House rule that devalues public lands and makes them easier to dispose of.”

Katie McKalip, communications director for the Montana-based Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, said in an email that its members and others “have sent a clear message, in no uncertain terms, that Americans greatly value our nation’s public lands and waters and that we will not tolerate actions by our elected officials that diminish them.”

Not sure I would praise him at all, although I get the need to do that publicly. It’s going to take continued pressure from westerners to stop this because Chaffetz and his merry band of Bundyites want this really bad.

Good win for now though.

Vo Quy, RIP

[ 15 ] January 12, 2017 |

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Vo Quy, the pioneering Vietnamese environmentalist and communist who not only convinced Ho Chi Minh to create Vietnam’s first national park, but also played a critical role in bringing his nation and the United States to an agreement on dealing with the ecocide the Americans committed after the war, has died at the age of 87.

Here is more about him.

Can the Koch Brothers Purchase Americans Changing Their Minds About Environmental Protections?

[ 24 ] January 6, 2017 |

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Don’t know, but we are about to find out.

The Kochs, whose use of their fortune to promote climate-change denial research has angered environmentalists, are quietly courting new allies in their quest for a fossil fuel resurgence: minorities.

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.

Fueling U.S. Forward is “dedicated to educating the public about the value and potential of American energy, the vast majority of which comes from fossil fuels,” the group says on its website. “We’ll talk to people of diverse backgrounds — industry employees, small-business owners, community leaders and low-income families — and share their stories.”

The group has seen early results from its outreach.

“Policies that subsidize electric vehicles and solar panels for the wealthy raise energy prices and harm the black community,” read recommendations adopted by delegates at the National Black Political Convention in Gary, Ind., in August. The event brought together African-American political groups and counted Fueling U.S. Forward among its sponsors.

“We’re standing up for poor, underserved communities,” said Linda Haithcox, executive director of the National Policy Alliance, which organized the convention. She said her group’s funding from Fueling U.S. Forward and other energy groups had not affected its position on energy.

In a statement, Charles Drevna, president and chief executive of Fueling U.S. Forward and a former vice president at Sunoco, the company behind the Dakota Access oil pipeline, confirmed that the group was supported by Koch Industries, among other backers. “I am proud to help Fueling U.S. Forward promote the importance of domestic oil and natural gas to making people’s lives better,” he said.

You’d like to think these groups won’t take Koch money, but LOL at that.

Fueling U.S. Forward is a more emotional campaign. “How do we start winning hearts and minds?” Alex Fitzsimmons, the Fueling U.S. Forward spokesman, wondered in a Facebook Live broadcast he hosted with Mr. Drevna in August at the RedState Gathering in Denver.

Eddie Bautista, executive director of the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance, a nonprofit that works with low-income and minority neighborhoods on environmental issues, called the campaign “an exploitative, sad and borderline racist strategy.” He pointed to the falling costs associated with renewable energy, which he said made shifting away from reliance on fossil fuels a winning proposition for everyone.

In seeking to change hearts and minds, Fueling U.S. Forward addresses a greater conundrum for the Kochs, their private empire — which generates an estimated $100 billion in sales a year — and the wider fossil fuel industry.

I don’t know whether it will as successful as the hearts and minds campaign of the U.S. toward South Vietnam during the Vietnam War, but the catastrophe of climate change will certainly be comparable or worse to the death toll of that war. But hey, there was so much corporate profit to be made in both!

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