There seems to be no shortage of deceptive attacks on electric vehicles, whether from the GOP’s opposition research arm or the Koch brothers themselves. The latest attempt to malign EVs is a report released Monday, which claims increased adoption of EVs will actually increase air pollution. Multiple reports in the past have come to the opposite conclusion--so what makes this one different?
For starters, the “Short Circuit” report was published by the Koch (and Mercer, and Big Tobacco) and Exxon-funded Manhattan institute, and authored by Jonathan Lesser, an energy industry consultant with a history of doing utility and industry bidding and a long track record of anti-climate action writing. With these credentials, it’s not exactly surprising that the report advocates against EV subsidies.
What is surprising is that Politico gave Lesser space to promote the report--without any disclosure of his energy industry clients or the Manhattan Institute’s fossil fuel funding. Instead, Lesser’s consultancy is described as “an economic and regulatory consulting firm” in his Politico byline. This sounds a lot more innocent than the blurb on his LinkedIn profile, which discloses that he provides “services to clients in he [sic] energy industry.”
Lesser’s full CV provides a little more detail on those energy industry clients, which include Shell, Exelon, various state-based gas and utility companies, and the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, an anti-wind farm group with a Koch brother as its chairman.
As for the report itself, the topline findings are that people buying electric cars instead of new gas powered autos will actually increase particulate matter, sulfur and nitrous oxide pollution (the American Lung Association says otherwise), that EVs will only reduce CO2 emissions a little (not true), and that subsidies are unfair because only rich people can afford EVs.
Please forgive us, then, for not wasting our time and yours by digging into the report to find just where and how Lesser has cooked the books to produce the counterintuitive click-bait headline that EV subsidies are bad. And it beggars belief that anyone would actually believe that the Manhattan Institute, funded by conservative billionaires, actually cares about economic inequality, given that it has argued that “there is little evidence we should” even try to reduce economic inequality.
To sum up, this report is written by a man whose career is built on fossil fuel consulting, published by a group built with fossil fuel money, arguing cars that don’t use fossil fuels are bad. For some reason, Politico only thought that third part was relevant for its readers.
But would you trust the findings of that report Lesser more than all the others showing the opposite?
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