Derrick Hollie is the founder of Reaching America, a 501(C)(4) organization that uses “grass root efforts, social media, traditional media and PR” to advocate for reduced regulation on the fossil fuel industry as well as “other issues affecting African Americans in our country today.”
DeSmog then quotes from Reaching America’s (perfectly logical) “Energy & Energy Poverty” primer:
Energy is the lifeblood our society. It doesn’t just fuel our cars and power our homes, but it connects us to one another and makes our lives healthier, safer, and more fulfilling. However, recent policies are leading to rising energy costs – and African Americans are disproportionately hurt. Low income families pay a greater share of their income on utilities in some cases as much as 35%. The only thing low income families spend more on is housing. Since minorities are more likely to be low income than the general population regulations and other policies that drive up the costs of energy hit African Americans and other minorities especially hard.
Reaching America is committed to advancing policies that allow us to use our abundant, affordable, and reliable energy sources – and that allow consumer decisions and individual priorities to determine our energy mix. Instead of regulating away coal, oil, and natural gas, policymakers should be focused on allowing innovation and the free market to flourish with solutions that meet our energy demands.”
Sounds great to me! DeSmog then continues by noting:
Derrick Hollie advocated for pulling out of the Paris climate agreement, writing at the Huffington Post’s “contributor platform”:
“While defenders of the accord say it was all about climate change, in reality it was a bad deal that would have hurt Americans—especially low-income and minority Americans,” he wrote.
Pretty self-evident if you ask me and most Americans.
Then DeSmog provides a series of quotations:
“We should be thanking God for the amount of fossil fuels we have in this country right here, as opposed to other countries where we’re having brown and blackouts right now,” Hollie said on an episode of “Watching the Hawks.”
June 17, 2017
Derrick Hollie voiced a Reaching America radio spot in Atlanta, GA, on “energy poverty.” The transcript was as follows:
“Hi, I’m Derrick Hollie, President of Reaching America. Did you know that African Americans suffer disproportionately from energy poverty here in the United States? What is energy poverty, you may ask? Energy poverty exists when a low-income family or individual spends up to 30% of their income on utilities. It breaks my heart to think of a single mother who has to decide on feeding her kids, or paying the energy bills.
Specifically here in Atlanta, a high proportion of low income families already pay more than $200 a month for their electricity, and we need to fix this. In America, we have an abundance of energy and many of us take for granted that we can simply turn on the lights and keep our homes warm in the winter and cool in the summer. We have the natural resources from fossil fuels, including natural gas, and the technology to access these resources all while reducing US air pollution, that provides affordable, reliable energy right here at home.
Join Reaching America in our modern-day movement to address social issues impacting the African American community at ReachingAmerica.org.”
April 25, 2017
Writing on the contributor platform of HuffPost regarding renewable energy in Virginia, Hollie declared:
“The mayor’s plan to cut emissions by 80 percent extends out to the year 2050, meaning he’ll be long out of office once the true costs begin impact the people of Richmond. But the true costs of an unfeasible plan like this one will hurt minority and low income families every step of the way.”
”[…] Reducing use of fossil fuels and replacing them with wind and solar energy has become a politically popular claim to make but is neither affordable nor based in reality.”
February 6, 2019
Derrick Hollie testified alongside Judith Curry as a minority witness at the House Committee on Natural Resources’ hearing on “Climate Change: Impacts and the Need to Act.” View a written copy of Hollie’s testimony here (PDF).
“The community, the African American community, we don’t have the luxury to pay more for green technologies,” Hollie said in his testimony.
While denouncing renewable energy, Hollie described the “abundant supply of natural gas” as “the solution to our nation’s energy questions.” He added, “Natural gas is clean.”
Following testimony, Hollie faced a question from Democrat Joe Neguse regarding his comments that natural gas is a clean energy source:
Neguse: “According to the NAACP air task force report, African American communities face an elevated risk of cancer due to air toxic emissions from natural gas development. And over 1 million African Americans live in counties that face a cancer risk above the EPA‘s level of concern from toxics emitted by natural gas facilities. So I’m curious how you would respond to that statistic. “
Hollie: “Our response would be, all of our energy sources have some type of downside to them. Even coal. We look at the wind turbines…”
Neguse: “I would agree with you there, certainly. Coal certainly has a negative impact…”
Hollie: “If I could finish, sir, if I could finish. Even the wind turbines, this winter, a couple weeks ago couldn’t operate — the downside. Well we know for a fact that liquid gas, natural gas is the cleanest way and the most affordable way right now for people in this country.”
Neguse: “I’m not sure I understand your comparison of windmills to the toxins and potential cancer risks associated with natural gas emissions. But nonetheless, I will say, I understand that you have written a number of editorials and obviously from your testimony today, support the development of fossil fuels, coal and natural gas”
Hollie: “That’s a fair assessment.”
Neguse: “I also understand that your organization is a partner with a group called, uh, let’s see here. Explore Offshore. Is that correct?”
Hollie: “We are a member of that organization, yes.”
Neguse: “Okay. And that is a project of the American Petroleum Institute.”
Hollie: “Yes, they are associated with them. Yes.”
Neguse: “Does your organization receive any funding from fossil fuel companies or corporations?”
Hollie: “No we do not.”
When Republican Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona asked who would be most negatively impacted by a Green New Deal, Hollie said, “Minorities because we can’t afford rising costs associated with policies.”
September – October 2018
Derrick Hollie spoke at a public hearing on the Buckingham Compressor Station (BCS) air permit in Virginia. He described the station as an “integral part of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline” and came out “in strong support of this project.”
With regards to expressed concerns that the project would damage Virginia’s environment, Hollie said he and Reaching America “have no such concerns.”
Hollie later penned an op-ed at The Daily Signal where he claimed opposition to the Buckingham County station, was “another example of liberal paternalism harming minorities.” He described those in opposition to the project as having a “white savior complex” and potentially “downright racist”:
“In Buckingham County, the black population is significantly higher than in the rest of Virginia, and it is African-Americans and other minorities who are the most susceptible to falling into energy poverty,” Hollie wrote.
He added, “[i]t was exclusively white activists with their matching T-shirts and picket signs who were speaking out against the proposed compressor station at a recent hearing, claiming it to be ‘environmental racism.’” According to Hollie, the resistance in Buckingham County “reeked of a so-called ‘white savior complex.’”
In conclusion, he wrote: “Liberal paternalism is too often more harmful for minorities than it is helpful. In the case of Buckingham County, Virginia, it’s insulting at best, and downright racist at worst.”
August 18, 2018
“[W]hat I don’t see is a lot of minorities or people of color. Maybe because they’re at work trying to make up for that pay gap?” Hollie wrote. He further suggested the “protests blatantly oppress an already oppressed group of people.”
“Producing more energy here in America will make energy prices go down, or at least keep them stable in the near future. That’s why the first step should be approving seismic testing and initiating a discovery phase off Virginia’s coast,” Hollie suggested.
“In light of this information, it strikes me incredibly odd that many local elected officials… are opposed to offshore drilling,” he added.
August 7, 2018
“The purpose of this event is to promote and expand energy freedom in the United States, as outlined in President Donald Trump’s bold America First Energy Plan, a proposal first released during the 2016 presidential campaign. The president’s plan marks a decisive change in direction from the Obama administration’s ‘war on fossil fuels’ and focus on the theory of catastrophic man-caused climate change,” the conference description reads.
Hollie spoke on a panel titled “Fueling Freedom and Prosperity”:
“We’re focused on solutions not based on right or left wing views, but what makes sense for a more united America,” Hollie claimed. “And I say that because oftentimes, the audience that I’m speaking to, the last thing they want to hear is about is being a conservative or energy […]
“And [you’d say] oh my god Derrick, you’re drinking the Trump kool-aid. Well, yea, I’ll take a couple of sips, you know. I have to spit it out sometimes, but for the most part I do drink it.”
Hollie went on to go in-depth of his personal experience getting interested in the issue of “energy poverty,” detailing his history working for Norfolk Southern railways as a brakeman at the Lamberts Point coal terminal, loading coal ships. Hollie’s father was also a Southwest Virginia coal miner.
“So, now, when I start talking about coal, fossil fuel, energy, it’s personal. And I humanized the message,” Hollie said.
According to Hollie, the “solution to energy poverty” is more fossil fuel use:
“Better energy policy that includes increasing the production of fossil fuels will lead to lower energy costs. Offshore energy exploration, the Atlantic coast pipeline, and improved coal technology. […]
During a Q&A session following the panel, an attendee asked Hollie if he would considering visiting California with his Reaching America operation. Hollie replied he would have to ask his donors:
“I oftentimes reference California as where we don’t want to be,” Hollie replied. “However, depending on my donors, I am willing to come out to California.”
August 1, 2017
Derrick Hollie testified to the EPA, opposing a renewable fuel standard claiming it would disproportionately impact African American families.
“Any policy that contributes to energy poverty is a bad one for low income families and minority communities,” Hollie said in his testimony.
“Requiring additional amount of ethanol be put in gasoline would damage engines of older cars and small-engine tools like lawnmowers that require drastic maintenance costs many black families and low income families just can’t afford,” he added.
According to Hollie, increased ethanol production would also increase the price of food production.
June 14, 2017
In a letter to the editor of Springfield News-Leader, Hollie criticizes electric vehicle subsidies in Missouri:
“Adding insult to injury, Missouri offers a lavish subsidy for electric vehicles that benefits the wealthy at the expense of the poor and middle class […] Mandates and subsidies for green energy disproportionately harm the least fortunate. For low-income families, that forces tough choices between putting food on the table and keeping the lights on.”
April 22, 2017
Hollie was also a presenter in a 2016 seminar at the event titled “How energy and energy poverty impacts the African American Community.”
March 22, 2017
Derrick Hollie spoke at the Transformation Expo 2017 in Richmond, Virginia, about “impact of Energy Poverty on the African American community.” Hollie provided a video summary of the event on his Facebook page:
March 2, 2017
As Derrick Hollie reported at Energy in Depth (EID), a group launched by the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA), he testified against Senate Bill 0740 and House Bill 1325 — two bills that would prevent hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in Maryland.
In his testimony, Hollie brings up “energy poverty,” and concludes that “There is too much at stake for black, low income, and other minority communities for Maryland to be bullied into continuing a misguided ban.”
“Right now, 1,113,342 homes in Maryland are heated by natural gas, and millions more are powered in part by burning natural gas. Harnessing Maryland’s energy potential will help narrow the energy gap by ensuring African American households are just as warm and secure as everyone else’s,” Hollie said.
February 24, 2017
“Opponents of natural gas exploration have resorted to scare tactics and bullying of legislators to stop Maryland residents from having access to this affordable, job creating resource,” Hollie said. According to Hollie, “While dozens of other states have embraced natural gas, Maryland has stayed stuck in the past, and it is costing us dearly.”
December 16, 2016
Reaching America teamed up with Fueling US Forward (FUSF) to sponsor a gospel concert in Richmond, VA, The New York Times reported:
“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 adds that the concert’s flier read “Thankful for the fuels and innovation that make modern life possible.”
In addition to FUSF and Reaching America, the event was also sponsored by 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. According to his LinkedIn Profile, Hollie formerly worked at Radio One.
August 21, 2016
Writing at The Virginian Pilot, Derick Hollie claims that the Obama Administration had been “discriminating against the most affordable energy sources” including coal.
“According to a study conducted by the National Black Chamber of Commerce, the EPA Clean Power Plan would drive 23 percent more of the black community into poverty,” Hollie wrote. He adds, “On top of that, many black families would face what’s known as ‘energy poverty,’ meaning reduced access to the electricity that we need to power our daily lives.”
May 11, 2016
Derrick Hollie signed a Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) letter supporting legislation that would cancel Schedule B on non-profit reporting to the IRS. This would reduce transparency by removing the identification of contributors.
“This bill presents an opportunity to strengthen free speech protections in light of recent cases of intimidation and mishandling of private information by the IRS. It would be a win for organizations across the political spectrum,” the letter claimed.
DeSmogBlog has no smoking guns on Derrick Hollie. On the contrary, Mr. Hollie comes across as a sincere advocate for his positions that are soundly based on the basics of energy production and consumption.
Somehow, DeSmogBlog believes that by simply tying a person to fossil fuels makes him or her suspect. That might work with its donors and a Green New Deal base, but to most Americans, Derrick Hollie is guilty as charged–and a scholar and Great American to boot.