Koch Brothers Want To Kill The Electric Car – Again


How much damage can two individuals do? If those two people are the Koch Brothers (pronounced “coke”) the answer is, a lot. They are among the wealthiest people on earth, having amassed a global financial empire based largely on fossil fuels. Their business interests generate about $115 billion a year in revenue, according to The Huffington Post.

Koch Brothers

This week, reports have surfaced that long-time Koch Brothers operative James Mahoney has joined forces with well known Washington lobbyist Charlie Drevna to create a group that will spend about $10,000,000 a year promoting the glory of fossil fuels. Until recently, Drevna was the paid mouthpiece for the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers trade group.

Together, they are encouraging several large refineries and other fossil fuel companies to join their group. One unnamed industry source told HuffPo the plan is to “make the public aware of all the benefits of petroleum-based transportation fuels.” He indicated the campaign is spurred in part by opposition to subsidies for electric vehicles. “They’re worried about state and community subsidies. In 20 years, electric vehicles could have a substantial foothold in the U.S. market,” he said.

“The Kochs have invested heavily in a pugnacious defense of fossil fuel consumption,” said one conservative energy analyst. “They’ve done this in the electricity sector, and as the debate shifts to transportation they’re behaving true to form.” Indeed, money from Koch Brothers interests is believed to be behind attacks on residential solar power in several states, including Nevada, Arizona, and Florida. They have donated a prodigious amount of money to conservative causes over the years, some of which may have been used to fund the infamous Citizens United lawsuit.

The Koch initiative has drawn scorn from Tesla chairman Elon Musk, who is a passionate proponent of electric vehicles.

Musk’s tweet references a report from the International Monetary Fund last year that said burning fossil fuels costs the world $5.3 trillion a year in direct and indirect subsidies. Among those indirect subsidies are costs associated with global warming, including rising sea levels, loss of animal and plant species, and healthcare for billions of people affected by elevated levels of greenhouse gas emissions.

“Koch Industries does not oppose electric vehicles,” said Philip Ellender, a spokesman for the company. “What we oppose is government subsidizing and mandating a particular form of energy over another. We oppose all subsidies – even for those industries in which we participate.”

That last part is patently false. A good deal of the money that wound up in the Koch Brothers wallets came from precisely the kinds of subsidies the IMF enumerates. It appears that what the Koch Brothers are really saying is that they have made a ton of money from raping the earth and making people sick and want to be free to continue doing so.

If the new promotional efforts begin as expected later this year, expect to see lots of commercials telling us why destroying the earth is good for us, why earthquakes and polluted groundwater are a small price to pay for energy independence, and how moving away from fossil fuels will throw millions of people out of work.

What do you call people who would trade the health of their own grandchildren for a few shekels? Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say 30 pieces of silver?

Photo Credit: DonkeyHotey/Flickr (some rights reserved)

About the Author

I have been a car nut since the days when Rob Walker and Henry N. Manney, III graced the pages of Road & Track. Today, I use my trusty Miata for TSD rallies and occasional track days at Lime Rock and Watkins Glen. If it moves on wheels, I'm interested in it. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.
  • Kieran Delaney

    I’ve never posted on here before, but I felt this article warranted one more than any other before.

    The Koch brothers truly disgust me, in every manner. Their greed clearly knows no bounds; and apparently, nor does their lack of concern for others…

    It’s people like them that epitomize Capitalism, and personify cupidity…

    • Steve Hanley

      Could not agree with you more, Kiernan. Thanks for your comment.

      I think when it comes to these uber wealthy bozos, the term “sociopath” is appropriate.

      • stopspending4

        Bet you are happy to support the Clintons who are worth 100 million and instead of earning that money from businesses, they “earned” it by giving speeches to wall street for 500K per 30 minute speech. Why would someone pay them that much money for 30 minutes when they have little experience in anything except gov??? The only thing they can provide is favors when they have gov control. Sounds like a losing proposition for the little guy but great for the wall street fat cats and let’s not forget the attorneys.

    • stopspending4

      Gee, this article states that they are apposed to the tax subsidies that are being given to electric cars. If you investigate, you will find that the electric cars are more damaging to the environment, in many areas of the country, bbecause they get their power from electric plants that use coal. You can try to hate people that have more than you but you are wasting your time and energy. The Kochs provide much to society both in employment, product production and charity. Too bad you are so easily drink the cool aide with no investigation on your own.

  • Zé M. S.

    “We oppose all subsidies – even for those industries in which we participate.”

    They’ll be begging for subsidies in a few years, renewables are already cheaper and electric cars are following the same route. Once that happens, there’s no turning back.

    • Steve Hanley

      You could be right. Thanks for your comment.

    • stopspending4

      Agree that you are right to post the Koch’s desire to do away with subsidies. Not sure why you think they will suddenly be begging for subsidies in a few years when they don’t want them now. Exactly which of their businesses do you think will fail without the taxpayer giving them free stuff?? They are not in the heavily subsidized areas now so the loss of subsidizies for others, will have minimal effect for them. Their products are successful without subsidized and will remain successful. If you are so sure of their failure, give me a product that they produce that will fail when subsidies are stopped?

  • AaronD12

    The Koch brothers should be using this to diversify and improve their standing in alternative energy sources. They want to push fossil fuels? Well, start pushing coal-powered electricity generation stations to use natural gas. While it’s not perfect, it’s better than coal and it fits in with their focus. They could milk that for quite some time to look like they’re improving the environment.

    Yet, they’re not.

    The company has a lot of money, and likely people who are WAY smarter than me, but they’re not seeing the forest through the trees. People want wind mills? Start building Koch Industries wind mills. People want solar? Start building solar. They’re so stuck with their fossil fuel thinking mode that they can’t even see the other opportunities.

    They could easily go from being seen as evil to being seen as good, but they don’t, and I don’t understand that at all.

    • stopspending4

      You are correxct that they have smarter people than you – and more educated. They are studying different energy sources and you can be sure they are well ahead of the curve with opportunites in the future. They did not get so successful by giving speeches (like Bil and Hil). They got successful by managing good businesses and taking advantage of opportunities. btw, electric cars in many areas do not help the environment because they are charged using electricity from coal plants. Investigate energy sources and you might learn something.

  • Patrick James Bayham

    looks like Anonymous might have to tickle their servers…

  • Patrick James Bayham

    Nevada kicks out Solarcity only to have Sunpower (total oil corp) take over….
    is there corruption in Nevada?
    ask the kochs..

    • stopspending4

      maybe you should ask ole harry. He has more power in nevada and particulrly in business and gov relations

      • Patrick James Bayham

        nevada loses out.who cares?.not the rest of the world.

  • Edie Deegan

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