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.

Congressional Dems to EPA's Wheeler: Stop Spreading Oil Industry Lies About Clean Car Rules

Read time: 5 mins
EPA head Andrew Wheeler

Two Democratic Congressional leaders are calling out U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler for knowingly deceiving the public and Congress on the proposed Safer Affordable Fuel-Efficient (SAFE) Vehicles rule.

Senator Tom Carper, ranking member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, and Representative Frank Pallone, Jr., Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, sent a letter to Wheeler expressing concern that the EPA head “[has] made numerous public statements, including statements to Congress, that directly conflict with the information and analyses prepared by EPA’s career experts.”

Of Course This 'Highly Biased Poll' By Oil-Funded Koch Groups Claims that Americans Don’t Like Electric Cars

Read time: 5 mins
Koch-not-science logo

Which would you trust: a poll commissioned by a nonprofit philanthropic group and conducted with academic partners, or a survey paid for by an advocacy group with financial ties to the industry in question and conducted by a for-profit lobbying firm with clients that are directly impacted by the issues discussed?

Two conflicting opinion polls concerning electric vehicles have just been released, and — surprise! — the one tied to the oil refining billionaire Koch brothers claims that American voters don’t support electric cars or the electric vehicle (EV) tax credit. 

New Poll Shows Widespread Bipartisan Interest in Electric Cars

Read time: 3 mins
Electric car charging station parking spot graphic

The vast majority of Americans have a positive impression of electric vehicles (EVs), according to a newly released nationwide survey of registered voters by Climate Nexus.

The poll, conducted in partnership with Yale University’s Program on Climate Change Communication and George Mason University’s Center for Climate Change Communication, finds that 77 percent of American voters have a positive opinion of electric cars. This strong majority carried across all demographic groups, with seven out of every 10 self-identified Republican voters viewing electric vehicles positively.

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

Read time: 5 mins
Electric car with tax credit form

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.

New Report Shows Duke Energy’s Clean Energy Claims Don’t Match Its Fossil Fuel Investments, Fights Against Rooftop Solar

Read time: 4 mins
Duke Energy eggs

Duke Energy, the nation’s largest investor-owned electric utility, claims to be a climate and environmental leader, but a closer look reveals a dirty energy portfolio and consistent efforts to preserve a fossil fuel-based future.  

While the utility’s CEO, Lynn Good, writes in Duke's 2018 Sustainability Report, “Duke Energy has been leading the charge to a cleaner energy future while helping our communities thrive,” a newly published report by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG) tells a much different story.

By examining Duke’s current electric generating portfolio, the company’s actions, and key regulatory findings, EWG paints a picture of a utility that has been extremely slow to transition to renewable energy resources and that actively fights against customers’ ability to generate their own carbon-free electricity.

Steve Forbes Echoes Koch Talking Points on Electric Car Tax Credit

Read time: 6 mins
Steve Forbes

The attacks on electric cars reverberating through the conservative echo chamber have found a new voice in Steve Forbes. The two-time Republican presidential candidate and Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Media published an op-ed on Fox News this weekend, one that repeats a number of well-rehearsed but thoroughly debunked claims casting doubt on the environmental benefits of electric cars and their practicality for the mass market. 

Like so many commentary and opinion pieces that came before it (including one by Wyoming Republican Senator John Barrasso, also published on Fox News in February) Forbes cherry-picks data points that are long outdated and cites a number of “reports” that have been commissioned by oil industry and Koch-affiliated think tanks, including the Manhattan Institute

NAACP Reveals Tactics Fossil Fuel Industry Uses to Manipulate Communities of Color

Read time: 5 mins
NAACP and Gov. Martin O'Malley

The fossil fuel industry regularly deploys manipulative and dishonest tactics when engaging with communities of color, often working to co-opt the respect and authority of minority-led groups to serve corporate goals. That is according to a new report, “Fossil Fueled Foolery,” published today by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which outlines the top 10 manipulation tactics that the group’s members and partners routinely observe.

Trump’s Clean Car Rollbacks Would Cost Drivers More Money, Finds Surprised Bush-era Official

Read time: 3 mins
Gas can with cash in it

As the Trump administration works to rewrite and weaken clean car standards, the targeted Obama-era rules received an unexpected boost from an unlikely source. A new study by President George W. Bush’s anti-regulatory czar found that the current fuel efficiency and emissions standards are good for the economy as a whole, mostly due to the significant savings that American drivers would see at the pump.

“The positive effects on the economy are ultimately much larger in magnitude than the negative impacts, primarily because the savings in expenditures on fuel are quite large relative to the vehicle price premium,” according to the study published in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management.

Trump Budget for Renewables Slashed 70% Under Former Koch Insider’s Leadership

Read time: 4 mins
Daniel Simmons being sworn in to his post at the Department of Energy

When President Trump nominated long-time Koch network insider and renewable energy antagonist Daniel Simmons to lead the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), the administration's priorities for federal energy programs were made abundantly clear. Simmons had, after all, been serving at the time of his nomination as Vice President for Policy at a Koch-funded think tank that had, in 2015, called for the outright elimination of the very office he was tapped to lead.

The Trump administration budget proposal released this week, for fiscal year 2020, goes a long way toward delivering this wish to the Koch network, calling for a 70 percent reduction in funding for the EERE and scrapping entirely the Department of Energy’s loan programs. The EERE ultimately received $2.4 billion in the current 2019 budget, and the current Trump proposal would fund it at $696 million. 

Toyota Is Losing the Electric Car Race, So It Pretends Hybrids Are Better

Read time: 3 mins
A Toyota Prius at the gas pump

There are at least 12 car companies currently selling an all-electric vehicle in the United States, and Toyota isn’t one of them. Despite admitting recently that the Tesla Model 3 alone is responsible for half of Toyota’s customer defections in North America — as Prius drivers transition to all-electric — the company has been an outspoken laggard in the race to electrification.

Now, the company is using questionable logic to attempt to justify its inaction on electrification, claiming that its limited battery capacity better serves the planet by producing gasoline-electric hybrids. 

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