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  1. #1
    Gird your loins Daisy Hill's Avatar
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    Default Koch brothers do not want you to have an electric car

    The Kochs Are Plotting A Multimillion-Dollar Assault On Electric Vehicles
    A new group could spend $10 million a year on the campaign.
    02/18/2016 06:12 pm ET HuffPost


    The oil and gas industry may have thought it had killed the electric car, but sales -- boosted by generous government subsidies -- rose dramatically between 2010 and 2014, and energy giants are worried the thing may have come back to life.

    Time to kill it again.

    A new group that's being cobbled together with fossil fuel backing hopes to spend about $10 million dollars per year to boost petroleum-based transportation fuels and attack government subsidies for electric vehicles, according to refining industry sources familiar with the plan. A Koch Industries board member and a veteran Washington energy lobbyist are working quietly to fund and launch the new advocacy outfit.

    Koch Industries, the nation's second-largest privately held corporation, is an energy and industrial conglomerate with $115 billion in annual revenues that is controlled by the multibillionaire brothers -- and prolific conservative donors -- Charles and David Koch. James Mahoney, a confidante of the brothers and member of their company's board, has teamed up with lobbyist Charlie Drevna, who until last year helmed the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, for preliminary talks with several energy giants about funding the new pro-petroleum fuels group.

    Late last year, Mahoney and Drevna flew into San Antonio to explain the need for a new group to executives at two Texas refining giants, Valero Energy and Tesoro Corp. Then, in late January, Mahoney moderated a seminar on “Changing the Energy Narrative” at the brothers' twice-a-year retreat for mega-donors in California. The panel drew a mix of CEOs from big energy companies and other wealthy attendees who, in conjunction with the Koch brothers, bankroll numerous conservative advocacy groups. And last month, Mahoney and Drevna had further conversations with Koch executives about the new project, sources say.

    Neither Mahoney nor Drevna returned multiple calls seeking comment about the new group. A Koch spokesman also didn't respond to a request for comment.

    It’s not clear when the still-unnamed group will be launched, but energy industry sources predict it’s likely to be up and running by this spring or summer, and that Koch Industries -- or a Koch foundation or allied nonprofit -- will be the lead financier.

    “The fact that Jim Mahoney is leading the effort appears to indicate that this is being driven by the business side of Koch,” rather than the political operation that helps oversee the brothers' conservative advocacy empire, said one refining industry source familiar with the early plans for the new group.

    Once launched, the new group is expected to use paid and earned media to push its pro-petroleum transportation messages, and do research to bolster the cause.

    “I think they (are) approaching all the major independent refiners,” added a second industry source, who requested anonymity because he had not been authorized to speak about the private discussions. The group’s broad mission will be to “make the public aware of all the benefits of petroleum-based transportation fuels,” he explained, adding that “the current administration has a bias toward phasing out” these fuels.

    The source also stressed that the new initiative is partly attributable to “electric vehicles and the subsidies for them."

    "They’re worried about state and community subsidies," he added. "In 20 years, electric vehicles could have a substantial foothold in the U.S. market.”

    The fledgling Mahoney and Drevna efforts seem to signal an expansion of Koch-backed drives against subsidies and tax breaks for alternative fuels to the transportation sector, at a time when support may be on the rise in Washington and some states for boosting electric vehicles.

    Industry analysts and conservatives familiar with Koch world say the new initiative seems to fit the playbook that advocacy outfits backed by the Koch network have deployed in recent years to fight solar and wind power, battles that are fueled by ideology mixed with bottom line concerns.

    “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.”

    Other energy analysts point out that electric vehicle usage is likely to accelerate before long, which could catch a number of energy companies off guard.

    “Electric vehicle adoption started slowly, but it certainly is going to follow an exponential growth trajectory,” said Varun Sivaram, an energy and environment fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “Once electric vehicle adoption hits a critical mass, I think it will take refiners, petroleum producers and automakers by surprise.”

    More broadly, some veteran energy lobbyists note that attacks on electric vehicle subsidies could backfire.

    "Producers and refiners need to be careful in going after clean energy subsidies and incentives -- unless they're being paid for by the petroleum industry," said Don Duncan, a former top lobbyist for ConocoPhillips (which has now split in two). Duncan added that attacks on clean energy subsidies potentially “could again refocus the debate on subsidies and incentives enjoyed by producers and refiners."

    Electric vehicles make up just 1 percent of the U.S. market, but some analysts see them rising to as much as 5 percent by 2025. Much of the impetus for boosting electric vehicles to curb climate change is coming from the government in the form of tax breaks and subsidies, and that’s a key reason why Koch and some refining industry allies are riled up.

    Not long after the Obama administration took office, it set an ambitious goal of having 1 million plug-in electric vehicles on the road by last year. But only some 400,000 have reportedly been sold in the U.S. to date. In a new effort to spur the electric car and driverless car markets, Obama early this month called for a $10-a-barrel oil tax, a proposal that has little chance of passing Congress.

    For Koch and other large refiners, the impact of a growing electric vehicle market could be significant down the road. Koch Industries' refining, pipeline and exploration operations contribute a healthy chunk of its $115 billion in annual revenues.

    In their early forays to find financial backers, Mahoney and Drevna have turned to some old allies. Koch Industries has teamed up with Valero and Tesoro before. In 2010, Valero and Tesoro were the leading donors behind a multimillion-dollar California ballot initiative that was aimed at killing new state standards to reduce carbon emissions. Koch was also a big donor to the ballot campaign, which was defeated by environmental groups and other liberal interests.

    The new group’s formation comes in the wake of other discussions in Koch circles, going back to 2013, about building a stronger pro-fossil-fuels message. At a donor retreat in mid-2013, discussions were held about the need to do more to bolster traditional fuels, according to an April 2014 email that Koch operative and fundraising honcho Kevin Gentry sent to scores of donors.

    In that email, Gentry alluded to the importance of a new initiative that would “drive the national narrative around energy and the tremendous benefits of reliable affordable energy for all Americans, especially the less fortunate.” Gentry indicated that the energy initiative would be mounted by Freedom Partners, the fundraising hub for the Koch donor network which officially hosts the semiannual donor retreats.

    To be sure, the Koch brothers and their network allies have long backed several nonprofit groups that have spent millions of dollars to fight alternative energy, notably wind and solar power projects, and poke holes in climate change science and regulations. The Koch brothers have repeatedly voiced skepticism that fossil fuel use contributes to global warming, and have long maintained that subsidies and tax breaks for alternative energy don't fit with their free-market libertarian ideology.

    In a twist, Koch interests held talks more than a year ago with Securing America’s Future Energy, a group focused on reducing American dependence on foreign oil, about making a sizable investment, say two sources familiar with those talks.

    SAFE, which was launched in 2006 with major funding from FedEx CEO Fred Smith, never received any Koch money, a spokesperson said.

    The group seemed an odd choice for a Koch investment: One of its key priorities is promoting alternative transportation, including electric vehicles.

    While the full dimensions of the Mahoney-Drevna initiative aren’t clear, some sources believe there could be some overlap with other advocacy outfits backed by the Koch donor network. “The new organization may be doing work that’s now being done by the Institute for Energy Research,” a Koch-backed think tank, according to one source.

    Although IER in recent years has issued several statements and papers attacking electric vehicle subsidies as part of a broad pro-fossil-fuels agenda, the new initiative is expected to expand the focus on electric vehicles and sell its message to a bigger audience through ads to generate more political backing.

    Serendipitously, Drevna became a “distinguished senior fellow” at IER last May, after he left his perch running the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers. The month after Drevna came aboard, the think tank posted a new paper attacking subsidies for a leading player in the electric car market: Elon Musk's Tesla Motors.

  2. #2
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    Government should not be subsidizing this.
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  4. #3
    Atomic Punk edwardv's Avatar
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    Right now gas may be cheaper than electric


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    Atomic Punk lovemachine97(Version 2)'s Avatar
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    Default Koch brothers do not want you to have an electric car

    My initial response to this is, "So?"

    To another point on here, my wife commutes 55 miles or so each way each day. She drives a Volt. Charging it at home is no big deal.

    However, charging it at work—she works for the electric company—started off free and is now over $3. All things being equal we get 34 miles on the battery alone. In hybrid mode, all things being equal, we get 35 miles to the gallon. So even in CA right now, unless you're at home, gas is cheaper than electricity.

    Plus electricity isn't all that clean.


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  6. #5
    Gird your loins Daisy Hill's Avatar
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    you have to look at the long term on this Our reliance on oil, and old transportation technology is a real puzzle. For large earth movers, dump trucks, heavy equipment like cranes...obviously diesel engines are the optimum.

    but gas isn't going to stay cheap, and our environment isn't going to stay clean unless we come up with new technology, and electric and alternative energy like natural gas, is just the beginning.

    failing to nurture new transportation technology in its various forms is bad for our future.

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  8. #6
    Atomic Punk lovemachine97(Version 2)'s Avatar
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    The market will give you the best product for the lowest price. Right now, that's fossil fuel. This is why Obama's first energy secretary wanted expensive gas, and one of the arguments the left has given regarding high fuel taxes. In California, our own special gasoline blend works to make the air cleaner AND make gas more expensive, a two-for-one. Many things can happen when the government subsidizes unproven technologies. But the most basic thing we should remember is that any dollar being used to subsidize is a dollar taken from the pockets of people who might otherwise be using it to privately develop a new technology.

    The government subsidizes wind and solar, but there are major problems with them. It's windiest at night, when energy is needed least, and it can't be efficiently stored. Solar power, like wind, is intermittent, and that wreaks havoc on the electricity grid, which needs to be stable. Too much or too little power equals brown outs. (This becomes increasingly difficult when, unannounced, new solar energy providers start popping up on people's roofs.) To solve this, any time a solar power plant is online, providing electricity, a fossil fuel plant is running on low power, so within 20 minutes of possible cloud cover they can get to full power. So solar plants do not eliminate fossil fuel plants.

    There's a story both the right and left like to bring up. A century and a half or so ago, whale oil was a popular (though stinky) energy source. But the oceans were getting fished and whales scarce, driving prices up. The cheapest alternative was kerosene, and thus began our dependence on fossil fuels. The right uses this as an example of the market working. The left loves to remind people that alcohol was actually cheaper, but taxed by the government, making kerosene cheaper, so this can't be used as an example of the market.

    I think the real story to draw from this is, "What might have happened had the government not distorted the market?" Would alcohol be as limited as ethanol? Or would technology have developed over 150 years making alcohol viable, and we wouldn't be polluting the Earth the way fossil fuels have? We will never know. But I might ask if a viable technology is being hurt because the government is distorting the market by subsidizing wind and solar.

    Then again, I am not sure what the story is now, but recently I heard that cows are more of a problem than cars. We are developing bioprinters that can 'print' meat and presumably milk. Maybe this technology saves us, and we can let cows go extinct.

  9. #7
    Baluchitherium
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    We're so behind the world now cuz of greedy people like these guys. Nothing changes till ya remove the lobbyist.

    Sadly, it seems we're just gonna kill this planet till we can get to another one. Another hard lesson learned.

  10. #8
    Atomic Punk lovemachine97(Version 2)'s Avatar
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    If your electric car is getting its electricity from a fossil fuel plant, a gas car is actually better for the environment.


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    Baluchitherium
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    I would think that if your driving those 34 miles without emitting pollution that would be slightly better, at the very least.

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    Atomic Punk lovemachine97(Version 2)'s Avatar
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    The National Academy of Sciences conducted a wide-ranging study, taking into account production of materials, power sources, energy, and post-operative environment damage--commissioned by Congress using public funds--and found that electric " vehicles’ lifetime health and environmental damages (excluding long-term climatic effects) are actually greater than those of gasoline-powered cars."

    That quote comes from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, considering the affects. As AP reported just over a year ago, the University of Minnesota found that electric cars were 80% worse for the environment than gas-powered cars.

    The potential for electric cars is down the road when we can come up with a cleaner way to produce the electricity.

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    Baluchitherium
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    Damn! Not even 1% better....that's terrible.

    Yeah, were just gonna have to wait for another power source. Unfortunately, probably be too late for the planet by then.

    It's also possible that they already have it, but can't use it because of national security. Don't want anyone else having it quite yet.

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    Atomic Punk Dave's Dreidel's Avatar
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    If your electrical plant is burning coal to provide your electricity, I think I remember reading that an electric car is actually worse for the environment, in many ways.

    We have to get away from fossil fuels in the long run. It's basic math, you can't have an ever expanding use of a static consumable and expect that it will never run out. It might be 100 years from now, it might be 200 years from now, but it's going to run out.

    If it wasn't for the world being full of crazy people that like to blow shit up, everything at some point could probably be powered by fusion reactors. But people are fucking crazy, no one wants the house next door to have its own personal fusion reactor in it powering the house.

    I have a buddy at Lockheed that works on their Skunkworks project, and he sends me updates periodically. They are talking about a miniature fusion reactor that will fit in your furnace room and power your house, and re-charge all your cars, etc. with no need for an electric company.

    Read up on Compact Fusion if so inclined, it's interesting stuff.
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  15. #13
    Gird your loins Daisy Hill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lovemachine97(Version 2) View Post
    The National Academy of Sciences conducted a wide-ranging study, taking into account production of materials, power sources, energy, and post-operative environment damage--commissioned by Congress using public funds--and found that electric " vehicles’ lifetime health and environmental damages (excluding long-term climatic effects) are actually greater than those of gasoline-powered cars."

    That quote comes from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, considering the affects. As AP reported just over a year ago, the University of Minnesota found that electric cars were 80% worse for the environment than gas-powered cars.

    The potential for electric cars is down the road when we can come up with a cleaner way to produce the electricity.
    and I believe that the pollution from the batteries can be worse than the air pollution. But when you look at countries like China, which is basically in our industrial revolution phase with all the air, water and soil pollution that comes with it, you have to admit that we need to push further into technology and systems that keep us a livable planet

    recycling of resources, proper disposal of contaminants, and most importantly a incentive to invest in research and production are important parts of a long term plan to cut dependence on fossil fuels.

    This isn't just a pocketbook issue...this is about a clean environment for our grandchildren and beyond. And Frankly it is political..it's about cutting reliance on unstable countries.

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    Atomic Punk lovemachine97(Version 2)'s Avatar
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    I honestly don't disagree with any of that. This is one of those things where I don't think anyone disagrees on the eventual outcome, but they disagree on how to get there. The major problem I have with all of this is that I think we are going about it the exact wrong way.

    Take this particular story. If you sell a legal product that people depend upon and the government constantly talks about how bad you are and takes your and others' money to actively create competition for you, why shouldn't Koch and others be able to defend themselves? I don't have a problem with that.

    But one thing we know is that perhaps the easiest way to keep people poor is to increase the cost of energy. So China might be a crazier polluter, but the US is proof that you can clean that up and I have a hard time saying that Chinese people--or any other humans--ought to stay poor simply because we believe energy should be too expensive for them to industrialize.

    That said, I of course believe pollution is a big problem. But right now, in 2016, and for the immediate future, what is the best, most economically feasible way to do something about it? I mean, conceivably we could go clean without regard to price and put a bunch of people out of work and make sure people can't use their refrigerators because electricity is so costly, but what does that accomplish?

    Bjorn Lomborg believes 100% that man is causing climate change, but is still called a 'denier' because he believes right now the most efficient way, both economically and in controlling temperature, to deal with this is to cope with the changes until technology catches up to the point where we can change it. So, for example, he has shown that if we stopped diverting water from cities, planted more green, and painted parking lots and buildings white, the temperature of a city could be brought down by 10 degrees Celsius. Conversely, economically devastating measures to prevent increases in temperature only change the future by fractions.

    Doesn't it just make sense to deal with the change until we have the technology to change it?

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    My wife has a Volt; loves it. We've determined that it was about 1/3 the cost to charge it vs. driving a similar sized Civic / Mazda 3. That was before the gas prices - now it's about half as much.
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