Facebook's Zuckerberg Takes Heat Over Keystone, Drilling Ads

Critics are calling for Mark Zuckerberg's new political group to clarify its position on fossil fuels.

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's political group, FWD.us, is running ads praising senators who support Keystone XL and drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

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Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg has found himself in some hot water lately after groups associated with the social media mogul's FWD.us group ran a series of pro-Keystone XL pipeline television ads.

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FWD.us, a political group founded by tech industry leaders including Zuckerberg, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, is billed as a bipartisan organization committed to comprehensive immigration reform and education reform. But according to critics, the organization has a few controversial pet interests on the side.

Subsidiaries backed by the group have spent a considerable amount of money pushing for a variety of oil and gas development initiatives according to progressive political blog ThinkProgress, including drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the Keystone XL pipeline.

[READ: Why Mark Zuckerberg Is Getting Political]

One of the subsidiaries under the FWD.us umbrella being criticized is the GOP-led group Americans For A Conservative Direction, which ran an ad praising Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., for his support of the Keystone XL pipeline.

 

The other, a group called the Council for American Job Growth, praises Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, for his willingness to consider drilling in the ANWR.

 

"Alaskans say it with pride: 'North to the future,' words Sen. Mark Begich never forgets," the ad says. "That's why Begich is fighting for Alaska's economic future by working to open ANWR to drilling and investing in the Alaskan natural gas pipeline."

Now progressive and green groups are firing back, questioning the mission and motives of the organization, especially given past statements by Zuckerberg and other founding members encouraging the shift from dirty fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources.

"While your support and advocacy for comprehensive immigration reform is laudable, it should not come at the expense of the planet, especially when all of FWD.us's key leaders claim to support renewable energy and efforts to combat climate change," said a petition hosted on CREDO Action, the activist arm of cellphone company CREDO Mobile.

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As of Tuesday, the petition had more than 18,000 signatures.

Other groups mobilized their supporters as well, specifically taking aim at the Facebook bigwig who according to some has become increasingly political in recent months. On Monday, the Sierra Club called on its members to sign their petition and share a message reading "Zuckerberg promoting dirty fuels? DISLIKE." An image accompanying the message included a Facebook-esque thumbs down dripping with oil and the Twitter hashtag #nokxl.

While FWD.us is the umbrella organization for the two subsidiaries, independent boards govern their specific activities, a structure that allows the organization to "more effectively communicate with targeted audiences," FWD.us spokeswoman Kate Hansen said in a statement.

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