Koch-Funded Groups Still Begging Congress to Kill the Electric Car Tax Credit


A coalition of free market advocacy groups, led by former Koch Industries lobbyist, urged Congress on Thursday not to extend the electric vehicle (EV) tax credit. In a letter rife with easily discredited and false statements, this coalition sent its plea to the leaders of the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee.

Most of the 34 groups are funded by the petrochemical billionaire Koch brothers’ donor network or have ties to Koch Industries. And most of the references cited in the letter have clear, demonstrable ties to Koch Industries and Koch funding.

The episode echoes a similar sequence from last September, when many of the same groups sent a comparable letter after Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) and others introduced the Electric Cars Act of 2018.

The letter is further evidence of this network of Koch-affiliated groups ramping up their opposition to the EV tax credit.

The American Energy Alliance (AEA) has organized a coalition to proclaim in one unified voice that there should be no expansion of the misguided electric vehicle tax credit,” Tom Pyle, president of the AEA and a former lobbyist for Koch Industries, wrote in a statement, first published by The Daily Caller News Foundation, which has received more than $2.6 million from the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation since 2013. (That article, it’s worth mentioning, was published at 5:10 am EDT on Thursday, before the letter could have been delivered. Evidently, the Koch-funded think tanks gave the Koch-funded website an advance copy.)

Which Koch-Tied Groups Signed the Anti-EV Letter?

The letter fails to disclose that most of the signatory groups depend on funding from the oil and gas industries, or specifically from the Koch brothers’ petrochemical refining businesses — industries that electric cars threaten the most.

DeSmog laid out the Koch connections to many of these signatories last September. Some notable additions to this coalition are failed Federal Reserve Board nominee Stephen Moore and Wayne Winegarden, the author of a Pacific Research Institute study that is often cited in attacks on electric cars.

Here’s the full list of signatories:

The Koch-Funded Citations in the American Energy Alliance EV Tax Credit Letter to Congress

The letter pushes many variations of the same debunked talking point — that the EV tax credit only benefits the rich. To support this claim, they cite four studies or reports and one poll. Three of those studies were funded by Koch money, and the poll was paid for by the American Energy Alliance, and conducted by a Koch lobbyist. 

One by one:

Citation: American Energy Alliance, ”New Survey: Voters (Still) Find Vehicle Subsidies ‘Unfair’

Quote: “Subsidies for electric vehicles are unpopular.”

Reality: This classic push poll was commissioned by the Koch-funded American Energy Alliance and conducted by MWR Strategies, a lobbying firm with clients including Koch Industries and the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers. See DeSmog’s earlier coverage of this poll.

Citation: Pacific Research Institute, “Government Electric Car Subsidies Are ‘Costly Subsidies for the Rich,’ Finds New Study”

Quote: “Subsidies for electric vehicles overwhelmingly benefit the rich. A recent study found that 79 percent of electric vehicle tax credits were claimed by households with an adjusted gross income of more than $100,000 a year.”

Reality: This “recent” study relies solely on data from 2014 to make the claim, and doesn’t factor in the roll of leased electric cars, which outnumber sales, rendering the findings essentially meaningless. For more background on this deceptive study and talking point here, check out this Koch vs Clean EV Facts page.

Citation: Manhattan Institute, “Short Circuit: The High Cost of Electric Vehicle Subsidies”

Quote: “Electric vehicles are not cleaner than modern internal combustion engines. As explained in a recent study from the Manhattan Institute, new internal combustion engines combined with low-sulfur gasoline emit barely any pollution.”

Reality: By cherry-picking data, disregarding greenhouse gas emissions, and conducting analysis based on discredited assumptions, the study’s author Jonathan Lesser actually claims that widespread adoption of electric cars would increase air pollution and have a negligible impact on the global climate. DeSmog has more on this often-debunked study.

Reference: NERA, “Economic Impacts of Eliminating the Manufacturers’ Cap on the Plug-In Electric Vehicle Tax Credit”

Quote: “Expanding the electric vehicle tax credit will be a net harm to consumers.”

Reality: This “study” was literally commissioned by a subsidiary of Koch Industries called Flint Hill Resources. (NERAalso produced a key report defending the tobacco industry, paid for by Phillip Morris, in the 1990s.) DeSmog covered this study’s release last November.

To recap: a bunch of groups funded by the Kochs’ petroleum refining fortunes are fighting against the policy that poses the biggest threat to petroleum refining, using references to reports and studies and polls also paid for by the Kochs’ oil money.

Let’s hope Congress remembers to check the references and consider the sources. 

Cross posted from DeSmog. Main image: EV.network, used with permission