It looks like the anti-electric car lobby is at it again. A recent editorial in the Wall Street Journal decried the desire of Congress to expand electric car subsidies “to the affluent”. Sadly the short editorial only regurgitated a handful of easily disproven bullet points that sounded suspiciously like propaganda often spewed from the Koch network. What problem does the Wall Street Journal have with electric cars, anyway?
Following are a few points that begged to be debunked.
Consumer Tax Credit
The WSJ described the $7,500 federal consumer tax break as a “blatant income transfer for the well-to-do”. They credit a study done by the Congressional Research Service that showed that 78 percent of the credits were claimed by households with an adjusted gross income of $100,000 or more.
What they fail to mention (and what the study itself acknowledges) is that 80 percent of all non-Tesla electric vehicles and more than half of all electric vehicles in general have actually been leased, not purchased outright. This means that nearly two-thirds of all new electric vehicles were leased and that dealers were claiming the tax credit, not the individual receiving the lease. Dealers then apply the credit as a rebate at the point of sale, which in turn reduces the monthly lease payments. This makes electric vehicles more affordable for the average person.
The WSJ also cried foul at the thought that the government might use taxpayer dollars as incentives and handouts. They cited an Ernst & Young study that estimated that the expansion of the electric vehicle consumer tax credit would cost taxpayers nearly $16 billion over the next ten years. Scandalous!
What they kindly forgot to mention was that the oil, gas, and coal industry already receives $20.5 billion in subsidies each year.
Part of the reason for this omission could be the conservative politics which keep those fossil fuel subsidies in place. After all, during the 2015-2016 election cycle oil, gas, and coal companies spent $354 million in campaign contributions, and 88 percent of those campaigns were for Republican politicians. Those same Republican politicians are the ones opposing the tax of carbon pollution and things such as electric vehicle tax credits. $354 million is a small price to pay when those companies can expect such a huge return on their investment.
The WSJ also lauds Senator Barrasso as a heroic figure who is trying to save the masses from being taken advantage of by rich electric car owners, which is why he wants to stop the expansion or extension of the tax credit. Of course, they did not mention that he is also the third-highest recipient of Koch campaign contributions in the Senate and that he has accepted $45,400 from them over the last five years. I am sure it is merely a coincidence.
Then there is the rather interesting claim that “none of this [incentivizing the sale of electric vehicles] will have the slightest impact on the climate.”
The only way this statement makes sense is if you deny the effects that greenhouse gas emissions have on climate change. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the transportation sector is one of the largest contributors to U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Of those, personal vehicles represent the majority.
Even if they operate on a somewhat ‘dirty’ grid, electric vehicles are still responsible for much lower emissions over the course of their operational lives than gas-powered vehicles. As electricity generation becomes cleaner through regulation and decarbonization, those emissions will continue to fall. So saying that there will be no impact on the client is just plain false.
The Wall Street Journal & Electric Cars: The Takeaway
Just because a publication is called ‘The Wall Street Journal’ does not mean that it cannot be swayed by the personal bias of its writers. It is really a shame that such a prominent newspaper is regurgitating deceptions and falsehoods from a network of companies intent on fueling their own personal interests rather than the truth.