Former EPA Head Says Big Oil Is Peddling Misinformation About EVs

JUL 11 2018 BY EVANNEX 58

BIG OIL IS ‘PEDDLING MISINFORMATION’ ABOUT ELECTRIC VEHICLES, SAYS FORMER HEAD OF EPA

Christine Todd Whitman served as head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under President George W. Bush back in 2001-2003. With experience having worked intimately with (and regulating) the energy industries, it should come as no surprise that she witnessed efforts from the Oil Industry to undermine clean energy solutions. Recently, Whitman came forward (via CNBC) to discuss Big Oil’s misguided ‘misinformation’ efforts.

*This article comes to us courtesy of EVANNEX (which also makes aftermarket Tesla accessories). Authored by Matt Pressman. The opinions expressed in these articles are not necessarily our own at InsideEVs.

Above: Electric vehicles from Tesla “fuel up” at a solar-powered Supercharger station (Image: Energy Sage)

According to Whitman, “When technological innovation threatens to upend the status quo, the status quo fights back. Every time. I try to keep that in mind when observing oil industry-backed efforts to discredit electric vehicles (EVs) and dismantle progress on transportation electrification by peddling misinformation through industry-funded studies.”

Whitman goes on to parallel the “absurdity” of such efforts from antiquated business sectors (e.g. landline phones, DVD rentals) desperately trying to maintain dominance. She writes, “Imagine Bell Communication publishing a report suggesting cell phones are less convenient than landlines. Or Blockbuster paying for an analysis showing Netflix makes watching movies more difficult.”

Above: Could Tesla do to gas stations what Netflix did to Blockbuster stores? (Flickr: Daniel70mi Falciola)

She notes, “As one might expect when an industry contemplates its own obsolescence, the oil industry is doing everything possible to delay the inevitable — including funding questionable research… [meanwhile] EVs are cleaner than gasoline vehicles today and will continue to be into the future based on extensive studies.”

“Here’s the bottom line: transportation electrification is a really good idea, and electric vehicles are a superior product. That’s why they will replace the internal combustion engine… I suspect that someday, future generations will look back on the age of the internal combustion engine with the same mixture of amazement and bemusement that come to mind when we think of the times of the horse-and-buggy,” says Whitman.

Above: Electric vehicles can help contribute to a greener future (Image: Tesla)

She concludes, “Transportation electrification coupled with the continued transition to clean energy sources promise a much better future for all of us… The benefits of that future will be so striking that we should do everything we can to hasten the transition. And we should soundly condemn the arguments that seek to slow or delay that progress for the misguided efforts they are.”

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Source: CNBC

*Editor’s Note: EVANNEX, which also sells aftermarket gear for Teslas, has kindly allowed us to share some of its content with our readers, free of charge. Our thanks go out to EVANNEX. Check out the site here.

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58 Comments on "Former EPA Head Says Big Oil Is Peddling Misinformation About EVs"

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David Green

Interesting, I have never believed these conspiracy theory’s but maybe there is something more to them?

Shane

Although it’s a little outdated, the documentary “Who Killed the Electric Car?” is definitely worth watching.

Joe J

You just have to follow it up with “Revenge of the Electric Car”!

DrDauger

When is the last installment of the trilogy coming out? “The Electric Car Strikes Back”?

Edinho

Lol!

Viking79

Documentaries by nature have a tendency to select sources that will paint the picture the director wants. Just saying.

That being said, there are definitely people in any industry that will go to any length to resist change. There are definitely deliberate misinformation attempts with EVs, but not sure how organized they are. I think it has become a political point for some reason, so more us vs them mentality.

sean

Did they miss the part where oil tycoons did a hostile takeover of GM to gut them and threatened Ford after GM released the 160 range EV1 with brand new NiMH batteries.

TM21

I did not like that “documentary”. I disagreed with many of its conclusions. I’ve bought 5 Priuses and one Tesla since then. And I wasn’t a fan of the “revenge” movies either.

EVs are here to stay plain and simple.

Pushmi-Pullyu

To be fair, “Who Killed the Electric Car?” was propaganda, attacking not only Big Oil (which is definitely guilty) but also GM, which was not.

It’s really too bad that it has so much in it which is demonstrably false. Battery tech was definitely not “ready for prime time” circa 1999-2000.

I think we EV advocates should stick to the truth and real facts 100% of the time. If we make an error of fact or a misleading statement, let that always be an honest mistake. Promoting falsehoods in the cause of EV advocacy just undercuts our arguments by giving the EV bashers ammunition to say “See, they are just as bad as we are!”

Actual facts serve us EV advocates quite well. No need to resort to falsehoods and FUD the way “Who Killed the Electric Car?” does.

That said, everyone should watch that film at least once. There’s a lot of good material in it. Just turn on your critical thinking cap while watching it, and do question those questionable assertions.

Cavaron

I’ve seen it, I’m critical. I still would say GM is somewhat guilty. Granted: GM was out of money and couldn’t afford to bring the EV1 production from the handbuild stage with prototype tooling to an industrial ramp up at that time. GM also couldn’t (sadly) sell the existing cars to their owners, because GM is by law required to guarantee service for sold cars for 10 years (but not for leased ones).
BUT GM didn’t had to stop the leases and crush them! They where leased for 500$ a month – sure, nothing spectacular for a few thousand cars for a company like GM, but it was good money. They could have done that for years and years.

Regarding batteries: lead-acid batteries where pretty much dead after 2-4 years (about 50% range loss). The NiMHs were better but needed special treatment (almost fully depleting them every now and then to prevent memory effect). But by the year 2000 LiFePo-batteries emerged – those would have been great in the EV1. Sad, sad story…

dmm1240

Even paranoids have enemies.

There are plenty of examples. Read up on the 40 years misinformation to avoid removing lead as an additive to gasoline. GM, Standard Oil and DuPont used the same playbook we see today.

After the Surgeon General’s report came out in 1964 linking tobacco use to various cancers and other nasty health problems, Philip Morris et al spent decades hiring “experts” to confuse and lie.

IOW, it’s an old story that has happened many times before. Entrenched power structure becomes threatened, turn the spin meisters loose.

mevp

“When technological innovation threatens to upend the status quo, the status quo fights back. Every time.” Truth. This isn’t a conspiracy theory, it’s just competition, and is inevitable. Musk bugs the heck out of me, but to give him credit, his pro-EV hype ability will crush any anti-EV FUD from big oil. That’s a good thing.

CDspeed

I’d like to hear her opinion on BP, and Shell’s recent entry in to rapid charging. Are they honestly getting into charging to provide a quality experience, and intend to keep growing with it. Or are they up to something we aren’t aware of yet?

Bobish

When forming an opinion on oil industry entry into rapid charging, start by looking at how large a share of their R&D and investment they put into it.

sean

Shell and BP are most likely doing it as a publicity stunt to avoid getting sued. Rhode Island filed a lawsuit against them.

Pushmi-Pullyu

Sure, it’s greenwashing pure and simple. Have you seen those commercials BP runs, full of smiling scientists and engineers talking brightly about their “clean energy” tech?

The level of greenwashing there is positively nauseating.

Mister G

I think they are going to not maintain and expand rapid charging and then blame it on low demand. CONNECT THE DOTS ON CLEAN AIR WAKE UP EARTHLINGS
Siberia hit 90 degrees Fahrenheit

dmm1240

They’re hedging their bet is all.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

What would help in a HUGE GIGANTIC WAY is to be able to charge on any DCFC or L2 (Excluding Tesla) and pay with my VISA/MC/Debit or gift card!!!!!!!!!

Yeah, I’m still on that kick. Bugs the sh1t outta me that an EV owner needs to be a member of Chargepoint. Blink, EVGo…..etc.

This required membership is total BullKr@P.

Remember, any ICE car can go to any gas station without any membership of any type and can pay in cash!!!
(◣_◢)

Brian

Electrify America is required by law to accept standard forms of payment, without any membership. Their network is rapidly expanding and will soon stretch coast-to-coast. Once that happens, the others will fall in line just out of necessity.

energymatters

Credit card processing adds costs to a transaction in several ways at a time when the margins for EV charging are razor thin.
1) Additional equipment – $100+ per EVSE
2) Additional processing fees per transaction ranging from a $0.50 + 3% or up 7% if AMEX
3) Additional backend accounting system costs of indeterminate extra but in case of telecom was typically 50% of the cost of a call due mostly to the requirement to account for every CC transaction and to be able to handle disputes over the CC transaction.

Additionally CC processing will not work if you’ve lost the internet connection (other systems not using a CC CAN work) AND using a CC for this forces ANY EVSE provider who wants to be able to charge for service to have to license the patents for that from Chargepoint.

NOT requiring a credit card opens up more, more reliable and and less costly options for drivers.

tm

Membership fee processing requires the same credit card processing fees and chargeback processing anyway. $100 is just peanuts for million dollar DC charger site.

And you do have option to process credit cards offline, airlines do it just fine in the middle of the ocean all the time, although I don’t know if anybody cares about such option on shore anymore.

It’s just some backwards way of thinking and attempt to create walled garden monopolies instead of doing business decent way. Any gas station may offer memberships and discount cards, but as they have competition, they typically don’t try abusing customers to make it mandatory with monthly fees.

energymatters

Not exactly:
– Per transaction fees add for every charge session. Subscriptions are once per month.
– DCFC is for a minority of vehicles < 17% of EVs have DCFC.

– You ignore my other points about patents and reliability

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

“Per transaction fees add for every charge session. Subscriptions are once per month.”

The same goes for every parking pole in the cities downtown and there are literally HUNDREDS of them in 4 square miles! All solar powered battery backed and I can pay without having to be a member of anything with just a credit card.

If they can process CC transactions, these public EVSE’s should be able to. It’s not new technology, it’s old common tech.

Sounds more like an excuse the Oil industry wants to perpetuate……IMHO.

Pushmi-Pullyu

Ridiculous. Even part-time vendors setting up a temporary booth at a convention now take credit cards. Not just some of them, but pretty much all of them.

You can come up with excuses for public EV chargers not to accept major credit cards, but not any good reason.

Brian

Exactly. My wife used to make and sell bows at craft fairs. She has a “Square” which lets her process credit cards through her phone. The fee was 2.75% of the transaction. Don’t tell that’s the difference between profit and loss on a public EVSE when we are charged $0.49/kWh and the commercial rate is less than $0.08/kWh.

Mark

California Senate Bill 454 (2013) already requires the Air Resources Board (ARB) to develop a regulation for this if electric vehicle service providers didn’t do it voluntarily by a prescribed date. ARB is now working on that regulation: https://ww2.arb.ca.gov/sites/default/files/2018-06/sb-454-may30-workshop.pdf

Kauairosina

Not if you buy gas at Costco

Kosh

To be fair, I never had trouble finding 30 or 40 year old movies for rent at Blockbuster. Netflix, not so much. Not like those things are still at the box office…..

Brian

True, Netflix’s selection is ironically often less than your local Blockbuster was. I’m pretty sure it has to do with Netflix paying licensing fees to too many movies/shows at once, which is why they rotate their offerings.

Scramjett

I don’t know if Netflix is still offering its DVD rent-by-mail service like it did in the beginning, but, if so, isn’t it more extensive than its streaming service?

Pushmi-Pullyu

Yes, and yes. Most of the movies I want to watch which are available from Netflix, are available only from their DVD/Blu-ray subscription/rental service. Netflix has a much better selection of TV shows, including a very large number which are produced for Netflix.

Pushmi-Pullyu

IMHO it’s not Netflix that put Blockbuster out of business. Remember, Blockbuster started when videotapes were the cutting-edge tech, it cost $99 to buy one of the latest blockbuster movies on VHS, and even the lowest priced theatrical movies on VHS were $25-30.

IMHO what put Blockbuster out of business was the $5 DVD bin at Wal-Mart. Who is gonna pay to rent a movie when buying one is just as cheap, and then it’s yours (almost) forever?

silversod

Big oil is the Monty python parrot sketch of today.

A customer enters a pet shop.

Customer: ‘Ello, I wish to register a complaint.

(The owner does not respond.)

C: ‘Ello, Miss?

Owner: What do you mean “miss”?

C: I’m sorry, I have a cold. I wish to make a complaint!

O: We’re closin’ for lunch.

C: Never mind that, my lad. I wish to complain about this parrot what I purchased not half an hour ago from this very boutique.

O: Oh yes, the, uh, the Norwegian Blue…What’s,uh…What’s wrong with it?

C: I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it, my lad. ‘E’s dead, that’s what’s wrong with it!

O: No, no, ‘e’s uh,…he’s resting.

C: Look, matey, I know a dead parrot when I see one, and I’m looking at one right now.

O: No no he’s not dead, he’s, he’s restin’! Remarkable bird, the Norwegian Blue, idn’it, ay? Beautiful plumage!

C: The plumage don’t enter into it. It’s stone dead.

God/Bacardi

The Koch articles are very simple to expose, they spew FUD, suggest yanking the $7500 credit and finally they do not activate the articles comment sections…

SJC

Ethanol has done more than EVs, you just put a different fuel in your tank, you don’t have to buy a new car.

SparkEV BoltEV

LOL. That’s the funniest joke I’ve seen in a while. Even the eco-nuts are repudiating ethanol. The way ethanol’s produced today makes no sense for motor fuel. And good ethanol (everclear) is illegal in CA.

Pushmi-Pullyu

Ethanol has “done more” what? Done more to divert farmland use into making corn-into-ethanol, driving up the cost of corn and livestock feed worldwide, all of which contributes to famine in third world countries?

Yeah, it has done astonishingly well at that. Otherwise, not so much, since it takes about as much or even more energy to produce ethanol from corn than is contained in the fuel! At an EROI of worse than 1:1, that makes it one of the most wasteful fuels on the market, not to mention perhaps the most polluting in terms of pollution emitted per unit of energy produced.

SparkEV BoltEV

Giving the impression that EV are only good for “clean air” is not quite the whole story. Even if EV pollute more than ICE, I’d still drive EV. Home charging (esp from solar) and not having to deal with SMOG check for life is well worth it not to mention many other points like smoother drive and quick throttle response.

The only sore point about EV is free chargers clogging up charging infrastructure, hopefully the solution will be coming (or already here if driving a Tesla).

Mint

Don’t forget to mention that 100% of gasoline not consumed by EVs comes out of imports from OPEC, and the energy EVs use is generated almost entirely within the nation.

SparkEV BoltEV

Of course there are many many side benefits to EV. My point was even if one considers only the direct benefits of convenience and smoother ride, I’d still drive EV. Often, people only look at faraway secondaries while not emphasizing the direct, primary benefit for the driver. Granted, that’s only possible since Tesla and SparkEV, but it’s time that we emphasize EV for more than pollution and OPEC.

Mister G

Trump supporters are eating up Big Oil’s misinformation, now you know why I’m a broken record…CONNECT THE DOTS ON CLEAN AIR WAKE UP EARTHLINGS co2.earth

Scramjett

I don’t necessarily disagree with you, but the problem with sounding like a broken record is that people start ignoring you…even the ones who agree with you. Trust me, I have years of experience sounding like a broken record! 😀

Scramjett

I don’t think comparing the Oil Majors to Blockbuster is terribly useful. We’re talking about a video rental company that only existed for a decade or two vs. the Oil Majors who’ve been around in one form or another for over a century. The Oil Majors are so entrenched and have spent so long building empires off of selling oil and coal as the primary energy source that has fueled the planet and the economy that dismantling the industry would be like dismantling the pyramids of Giza bare handed. Not impossible, but extremely daunting and won’t be done anytime soon, certainly not in anyone’s lifetime.

Of course, there is the possibility that some cataclysmic event – be it natural, social, economic, or political – could topple them over, but that doesn’t seem particularly likely either.

Roy_H

Oil companies will not go out of business. So much in our life depends on their products a mirad synthetics from plastics to clothing plus lubrication etc. The most wasteful thing you can do with oil is burn it.

Djoni

Do you mean all those usefull plastic that we throw in the ocean forming the next continent?
I don’t see how we depend so much on those?
Since over 80% of plastic just fill dump or ocean, I would consider them a hazard that threaten our very existence.
It’s not that usefull, if it’s dump the moment you finish using it.
And all things made from oil or petroleum other than fuel are less than 9 or 8% of the whole.
Beside that we could use less damaging stuff, like bamboo straw or whatever or just make plastic with bio waste.
But yes burning it, is really silly.

Just saying!

Pushmi-Pullyu

IMHO anything designed to be disposable should be biodegradable. Making biodegradable plastic would be slightly more expensive, but there’s no reason it can’t be done, and hopefully that will become the norm before long. We can also make plastic using sugar instead of petroleum, and again the only reason that isn’t already happening is it’s a bit more expensive.

No good reason to abandon using plastic for disposable stuff; it just needs to be the right kind of plastic, which at present it’s not.

G2

Oil companies will just shrink to 10-15% of their current production to produce those products that we haven’t found alternatives for…yet. As less demand hits them those products will get more and more expensive, driving up the pressure to find cheaper alternatives. A final death spiral will ensue and then oil stocks will join whale oil stocks.

Scramjett

I’m not saying that it won’t happen as you say, just not in our lifetime. As I understand it, it took over a century before whaling was reduced to 10-15% of its peak in the early 19th century and even today, there are still countries *cough* Japan *cough cough* that practice whaling.

Side Note: I am aware that Norway and Iceland also practice whaling, but based on the numbers, Japan is the most egregious offender and uses the laughable “scientific research” argument to justify it.

Bill Howland

Christine Whitman? Gimme a break!!!!!

She’s the one who told all the first responders that the air at WTC ground zero was ‘perfectly safe’, and the first responders have been dropping like flies.

Better not hang your hopes on EV’s on that poor excuse for a dame.

Mark.ca

You do not agree with something she said or you just don’t like women?

Bill Howland

No, its stupid comments I don’t like that add nothing to the discussion. Try to keep up. I guess you couldn’t care less that people who believed her lies are dying now. But you guys have no sense of humor when the subject matter is humorous, and you have no empathy when sadness is called for the people who are dying.

People like you are doing a dis-service to the EV community since the General Public sees your tripe, and your general snootiness, and mistakenly think that if you are ‘representative’ of an ev owner they naturally want no part of the whole experience.

Mark.ca

She was wrong once …that to you means she will always be wrong? What about you, Bill? Do you think you will ever get one right?

Bill Howland

When the question was and is, “the air is perfectly safe”. Safe for Whom? Only those naive in the extreme need to bother with your question. She will get things right depending on what her bosses tell her current ‘policy’ is.

Newspaper columnists were having fun with CTW at the time – realizing she wasn’t the best source of objective information.

Brian

It seems pretty clear to me that he does not agree with something she said. “or you just don’t like women?” Really? Where did you get that from, your own biases?

Bill Howland

HAHA, he’s hung up with the term DAME. It used to be considered a complimentary term, as opposed to ‘broad’ or the 2 terms I can’t say here. I was having some fun with the women at work once, and the consensus from them was “DAME” was far preferable to other names they’ve been called. Of course, I could do that since those women had a sense of humor, and knew how to laugh.

Pushmi-Pullyu

“Big Oil Is Peddling Misinformation About EVs”

I’m shocked, SHOCKED to discover Big Oil is disseminating FUD and disinformation about EVs!

(Do I really need a /sarcasm tag here?)

It’s not just misinformation; it’s disinformation; they know it’s not true but choose to repeat falsehoods for the propaganda value. Big Oil is also funding fake “studies” which pretend to “prove” that EVs are not really “green”.

Here’s an blog post by Robert Llewellyn of “Fully Charged” fame, about the outrageous number of falsehoods and misleading half-truths contained in the fake study perhaps most often cited in anti-EV disinformation:

https://plus.google.com/+RobertLlewellyn/posts/QcZd7My7tYF

ZEOG

Amen brother. I cringe now when I drive my Titan Crew Cab. Gas vehicles are not as well built or as powerful or reliable like a EVs.