Ben Jervey

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Ben Jervey has been covering and working in the climate, energy, and environmental fields for a decade. He is regular contributor to DeSmogBlog. 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 also contributes to National Geographic News, Grist, OnEarth Magazine, and many other online and print publications. His book–The Big Green Apple: Your Guide to Eco-Friendly Living in New York City–has been called the “bible of green living for NYC.” A bicycle enthusiast, Ben has ridden across the United States and through much of Europe.

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. 

Trump Admin Hands Win to Kochs, Stops Clean Car Negotiations With California

Read time: 4 mins
California license plate

The Trump administration just took a big step closer to handing the Koch network one of it biggest wins yet under this presidency. Bloomberg has reported that there will be no deal between the Trump administration and California on fuel efficiency and emissions standards for cars and light vehicles.

This move sets the stage for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to attempt to revoke California's special waiver under the Clean Air Act, which allows the state to set its owns standards that are more stringent than federal standards.

Big Oil Ally Derrick Hollie Dismisses Environmental Justice, Promotes Natural Gas at House Climate Hearing

Read time: 3 mins

This week, during the House Committee on Natural Resources' hearing on “Climate Change: Impacts and the Need to Act,” Representatives heard about the threats that climate change poses to the safety, prosperity, and general well-being of Americans, and particularly to marginalized communities of color. Multiple experts testified on environmental and climate justice issues. However, one of the Republicans' experts, Derrick Hollie of Reaching America, told a dramatically different story, attempting to argue that climate-friendly policies actually harm low income and minority communities.

During the hearing, Hollie did not disclose his organization's involvement in multiple campaigns funded by the oil and gas industries.

Senator John Barrasso Parrots Koch Talking Points to Kill Electric Car Tax Credit [Updated]

Read time: 8 mins
Senator John Barrasso

[Update 2/7/19] On Wednesday, Senator Barrasso released a new version of his Fairness for Every Driver Act, which he had forecast with the Fox News op-ed. In his remarks on the Senate floor he again repeated the same talking points that have been pushed by Koch network voices for months. The American Petroleum Institute distributed a press release applauding the proposed bill, making the same erroneous claim about who benefits from the tax credit.

How This Oil Refiners Group Rallied GOP Governors' Support for Trump’s Rollback of Auto Standards

Read time: 6 mins
Trump in front of a refinery

As the Trump administration worked to revise and relax federal fuel economy and emissions standards for cars and light trucks, an oil refiners trade group worked connections with Republican governors to rally support for the proposed rollback.

Emails obtained by Documented, a watchdog group that tracks corporate influence in government, revealed that the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) were actively recruiting Republican Governors to sign onto a public comment letter supporting the weaker CAFE (corporate average fuel efficiency) standards, while also “shopping around” a pre-written op-ed with language borrowed from the American Energy Alliance, a free market advocacy group run by a former Koch Industries lobbyist.  

Senators Demand Trump Admin Reveal Marathon Petroleum, Koch Influence on Clean Car Standards Rollback

Read time: 4 mins
Marathon gas station

Two Senate Democrats this week ordered several Trump administration cabinet members and agency officials to reveal how the oil industry and Koch network have worked behind closed doors to influence the proposed rollback of auto efficiency and emissions standards.

Senator Tom Carper of Delaware and Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer sent a letter to the current heads of the Department of Transportation, the Environmental Protection Agency, and others in the administration to demand information about a “covert lobbying campaign with oil industry groups to support Trump Administration efforts to weaken fuel economy standards and increase demand for oil consumption.”

Kochs Fund Study to Kill Electric Vehicle Tax Credit Via Same Group That Defended Tobacco Industry

Read time: 4 mins
Koch Industries logo with 'not science' stamped over in red

When Koch Industries needs a study to cast doubt on the benefits of electric vehicles (EVs), where does it turn?

Unsurprisingly, to an industry-funded study mill that infamously produced a key report defending the tobacco industry that was deployed by Philip Morris in the 1990s, and which has since published studies commissioned by the liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry, the coal industry, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

As Congress debates whether to extend, end, or leave alone the federal EV tax credit, a study critical of the incentive has been making the rounds in conservative media outlets and Koch-affiliated free market advocacy groups.

Kochs' Americans for Prosperity Group Launches Campaign to Crush Fuel Economy Standards

Read time: 3 mins
Shell station sign showing gas prices around $5.00 a gallon in 2008

Americans For Prosperity (AFP), a political advocacy network funded by the petrochemical billionaire Koch brothers, recently launched a campaign to support President Donald Trump’s efforts to roll back fuel efficiency and automobile emissions standards.

Through social media feeds of the many AFP state chapters, the group is promoting a petition to “Repeal Costly Obama-era Fuel Standards.”

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