Ben Jervey

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Ben Jervey is a Senior Fellow for DeSmog and directs the KochvsClean.com project. He is a freelance writer, editor, and researcher, specializing in climate change and energy systems and policy. Ben is also a Research Fellow at the Institute for Energy and the Environment at Vermont Law School. He was the original Environment Editor for GOOD Magazine, and wrote a longstanding weekly column titled “The New Ideal: Building the clean energy economy of the 21st Century and avoiding the worst fates of climate change.” He has also contributed regularly to National Geographic News, Grist, and OnEarth Magazine. He has published three books—on eco-friendly living in New York City, an Energy 101 primer, and, most recently, “The Electric Battery: Charging Forward to a Low Carbon Future.” He graduated with a BA in Environmental Studies from Middlebury College, and earned a Master’s in Energy Regulation and Law at Vermont Law School. A bicycle enthusiast, Ben has ridden across the United States and through much of Europe.

How the Koch Network's ‘Social Change' Strategy Is Built to Kill the Electric Car

Read time: 17 mins
David Koch at an Americans for Prosperity event

This story is part of Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 250 news outlets to strengthen coverage of the climate story.  

If it feels like the oil industry’s attacks on the burgeoning electric car market are well coordinated, that’s because they are. The industry is following a blueprint laid out decades ago, and refined ever since, by Koch network insiders.

In a revelatory article, published in Philanthropy Magazine in 1996, an executive vice president of Koch Industries named Richard Fink laid out a three-tiered integrated strategy for promoting libertarian ideals and free-market principles, and, in doing so, protecting the Kochs’ sprawling petrochemical refining and shipping businesses. 

In Another Win for Koch Network, Trump Strips States' Rights to Adopt Clean Car Standards

Read time: 5 mins
California license plate

The Trump administration is expected to formally announce today that it is rescinding California's authority to set greenhouse gas emission standards for automobiles. The long-anticipated move is certain to set off a legal battle, as attorneys general in states impacted by the decision have promised to take legal action against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to defend their right to regulate emissions from personal vehicles.

Currently, 14 states and the District of Columbia, serving a population of more than 118 million, have adopted these more stringent tailpipe pollution standards in order to protect the public health of their communities. 

Fees on Electric Cars, Inspired by Koch Network, Are Unfairly Penalizing Drivers, Says Consumer Reports

Read time: 6 mins
Old gasoline pump with price

Drivers of electric cars are being unfairly punished by punitive fees in several states, according to a newly published analysis by Consumer Reports. Legislators in 26 states have enacted or proposed special registration fees for electric vehicles (EVs) that the consumer advocacy group found to be more expensive than the gas taxes paid by the driver of an average new gasoline vehicle.

These punitive EV fees have been pushed in many states by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the corporate-funded group which produces model legislation and voted on a model resolution supporting “equal tax treatment for all vehicles” — a move that bears the fingerprints of the fossil fueled–Koch network.

Wall Street Journal and Senator Barrasso Still Peddling Koch's Electric Car Myths

Read time: 4 mins
Senator John Barrasso

Senator John Barrasso and the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) editorial board are once again attacking the federal electric vehicle tax credit, and are once again relying on easily debunked talking points born of the Koch network’s influence machine. 

Senator Barrasso has reportedly sent a letter to Republican colleagues in the Senate, advising them not to extend the electric vehicle (EV) tax credit. 

The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board cheered Senator Barrasso’s act in an editorial published Tuesday. The deception and falsehoods are so rife in the WSJ editorial that it that begs for rebuttal. So here goes. 

On David Koch’s Passing and the Koch Network’s Ongoing War on Clean Energy

Read time: 4 mins
David Koch

Billionaire libertarian activist and oil industry tycoon David Koch died on Friday, leaving a toxic legacy that includes helping birth the climate denial movement, fighting against regulations that protect worker and public health, and — critical to our work here on DeSmog's KochvsClean project — helping fund and coordinate a decades-long attack on clean energy and low carbon energy solutions.

We will leave the mourning to his family and friends, and the condemning to those who were immediately impacted by his efforts — a massive group, considering the far-reaching impacts of climate change, which are already being felt across all continents and latitudes.

Documents Show Koch Network's 'Structure of Social Change' in Action

Read time: 10 mins
Koch Student Commons, on the ground floor of Kansas University's business school.

Back in 1996, the president of the Charles Koch Foundation laid out a blueprint for the Koch network’s goals of social transformation — a three-tiered integrated strategy to roll back government regulations, promote free market principles, and, in doing so, to protect the industries that turned the Koch brothers into billionaires. 

More than two decades later, that blueprint is still being followed in a broad-scale effort to serve the Kochs’ free-market libertarian ideology, to prop up the oil and gas industries that pad their fortunes, and to forestall any political action on climate change that they believe would threaten their bottom line.

Freedom to Drive Coalition Brings the Koch Disinformation Playbook to Colorado

Read time: 6 mins
Tesla Model X with ski tow

In recent years, the majority of Coloradans have been struggling to breathe clean air, and tailpipe emissions carry much of the blame. Lawmakers have started to take on this threat with a number of clean car standards and incentives coming out of the Governor's office and the state legislature. However, a newly formed coalition of car dealers, the oil and gas industry, and free market advocates are working to put the brakes on clean air policies in Colorado, and they're using a disinformation playbook often used by organizations in the Koch network.

Launched in March, the Freedom to Drive Coalition has fought against Colorado’s adoption of low emission vehicle standards (which the state’s Air Quality Control Commission approved in a unanimous 9-0 vote) and is now battling a complementary effort to adopt zero emission vehicle (ZEV, or electric car) standards that would greatly reduce tailpipe emissions.

Bipartisan Group of Governors Pushes Back on Big Oil, Tells Trump Admin to Halt Clean Car Rollbacks

Read time: 6 mins
Parking lot of cars

As the Trump administration scrambles to formalize its rollback of clean car standards, 24 governors are telling the President to pump the brakes on the proposed rule. The governors have signed a letter, as reported this morning in The New York Times, Associated Press, and Bloomberg, requesting that the administration reconsider the rollback of fuel efficiency and emissions standards, and to honor California’s authority under the Clean Air Act to write its own standards, which other states are allowed under the law to sign onto.

Congressional Dems Investigating Why Big Oil Is 'Only Winner' in Clean Car Standard Rollbacks

Read time: 4 mins
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Frank Pallone, Jr. during Thursday's hearing on the Trump administration clean car standards rollback

House Democrats in the Energy and Commerce Committee are actively investigating the oil industry’s role in shaping the Trump administration’s proposed rollback of greenhouse gas and fuel economy standards for cars and light duty trucks.

Another Deceptive Letter Bashing the Electric Car Tax Credit Circulating Congress, Courtesy of FreedomWorks

Read time: 5 mins
Zero emissions on back of car

A West Virginia Republican is gathering signatures from fellow members of Congress for a letter opposing any extension to the electric vehicle (EV) tax credit. Representative Alex Mooney is getting an assist in his efforts from FreedomWorks, the major conservative advocacy center that helped launch the Tea Party movement.

In an email sent Monday to Congressional staffers and reviewed by DeSmog, FreedomWorks’ Vice President of Legislative Affairs, Jason Pye, “urges your boss to sign the letter against an expansion of the electric vehicle tax credit.” The “Draft Anti-Electric Car Tax Credit Letter” repeats a number of easily discredited and false talking points that have been echoed repeatedly by opponents of the tax incentive.    

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