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.”
Read more of the original article at Huffington Post.