Koch Industries Board Member Defends Company’s Stance Againt Electric Car Subsidies


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Jim Mahoney, board member for Koch Industries, wrote a commentary defending the company’s stance on electric vehicle subsidies.


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This comes after a recent article that stirred the pot on the issue, and that motivated Tesla boss, Elon Musk, to reply with a tweet.

Mahoney explains that Koch industries has nothing against electric vehicles. He says, in fact, that the company supports and invests in multiple forms of energy as it sees the value of all. What the company doesn’t support is the government mandating which form is best and then promoting it through tax breaks.

He points out:

“Taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to subsidize the lifestyle choices of the wealthiest 20%. Koch opposes all market-distorting policies, including subsidies and mandates—even if they may benefit the company. These subsidies and mandates often prop up companies and industries that would otherwise fail, and this is precisely the type of corporate welfare that has become all too common in today’s political system.”

His belief is that people should be able to make their own choices about which form of energy fits their lifestyle best, and then move forward on their choice at fair market prices. Companies should succeed or fail based on their own merits and not due to government assistance.

Mahoney quotes Bill Gates in the article:

“Without access to energy, the poor are stuck in the dark, denied all of the economic, social, and health benefits that come with power. So if we really want to help the world’s poorest families, we need to find a way to get them access to energy they can afford.”

He makes it clear that currently, fossil fuels are abundant and are the main source of today’s energy supply. This being said, Mahoney assures that fossil fuels are the “best” option for most, and especially for those at the lower end of the pay scale.

But are we not developing and planning for the future? How many companies over the years have received government assistance, incentives, etc., and eventually succeeded? Closed-mindedness, lack of innovation, and stifling ULTIMATELY better technology, should not be the goals or actions of our government or society!

Chelsea Sexton, an electric car advocate, tweeted “Shocked” about the post. Well, we’re not too shocked when it comes from someone involved with Koch Industries.

Hat tip to Chelsea Sexton!

Source: Fortune

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78 Comments on "Koch Industries Board Member Defends Company’s Stance Againt Electric Car Subsidies"

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“Without access to energy, the poor are stuck in the dark, denied all of the economic, social, and health benefits that come with power”

So lets prevent them to ever get close to produce or even purchase renewable electricity and hold them by their necks and wallets with our monopoly.

Maybe what the Koch Bros. and their allies are doing– is all a part of nature?

Just suppose for a moment, there is an alien planet, with technology on the same level as us. But due to these alien’s individual, political and corporate levels of greed being greater than any unified will to save their own species; unregulated hydrocarbon-belching technologies disrupt their planetary equilibrium, which slowly (over 2-3 centuries) causes massive loss of biodiversity, drops crop yields, increases pest species, rare diseases begin to ravage them, sea levels rise, and their planet bakes like a space potato under the full radiant glory of their star.

This would explain why the Universe, which is full of billions of planets– seems so quiet and devoid of technologically-capable life. These Alien’s have literally choked to death on the byproducts of their hydrocarbon-based tech. So quite likely, the Koch Bros. are just one of natures “Great Filters”, repeating a universal theme of “Profits above all else”, until their own species ceases to exist.

The Earth is like a cats eye among aggies, blinking in astonishment across the endlessness of time and space.
–Firesign Theatre

If only we could cut ’em off at the past…

He said Ruthlessly. I wonder where Ruth is?

They oppose subsidies ???? Meanwhile the 0il Producers get nothing but billions of dollars In subsidies ….These 0ld Farts Must Think They’ll live forever!!

Yes $5.3 trillion with a “t” dollars per year

Hypocrits everywhere.
Why don’t we drop oil, fracking and coal subsidies first???

And all the special tax treatment they get?

Excellent point!!!


Yeah. Clean up your own globally subsidized carbon-spewing mess first– then lets talk about eliminating subsidies for zero-carbon technologies.


Please name the subsidies you are referring to. Please also define what the *special tax treatment* is. I’d like to know. It would help to support the argument.

How about using trillions of dollars in U.S. taxpayer dollars to support “wars of choice, not necessity”, to prop up despotic Arab rulers in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Kuwait, and other countries? Wars conducted to protect our supply line of falsely “cheap” oil? Wars which the Big Oil companies don’t in any way help to pay for?

How about the thousands of American servicemen and service women who have lost their lives to support those ultimately counter-productive wars which only incite terrorists and thereby make us less safe year after year after year?

The tax breaks Big Oil gets are laughably insignificant by comparison.

Maybe the “Common Defense” is too socialist for the Kochs. But clearly overseas our military protects the interests of some citizens more than others because the national good consists of private companies, and our multinational corporations are the ones that are most involved overseas.

Here’s energy subsidies from 2002-2008.

I doubt this graph includes the cost of Middle East wars, in money or lives.

2011 worldwide oil industrial subsidizes, $500 B. If the Kochs want a level playing field they need to start with their industry first.

Does anyone have the government $$ in the early years of oil?

The great issue of the early oil industry (when the US was the world’s #1 producer) was a cycle of bonanzas in one state after another, which whipsawed between wildcatters pumping like crazy and crashing oil prices, and robber barons like Rockefeller moving in to restore “order” by destroying the wildcatters. The first great government intervention in this cycle was during the Depression when overproduction went truly insane and the governors of OK and TX sent the troops to perform the role of the Rockefellers. The govt. of TX created a cartel with quotas for multiple companies, so huge that it set global oil prices until OPEC usurped it. Basically the Federal govt. moved in during WW2 by declaring all oil in the world a strategic resource and formalizing our special relationship with the Sauds.

You could argue that this was all worth as much as any direct subsidy to certain parties. Maybe the Kochs fantasize that their daddy would have done better in a real free market, but like all other tycoons he benefited from the prosperity that followed the New Deal and the politicization of oil.

Daddy Koch also made a killing off selling oil to the Soviets. He was all about the Soviets until the 50’s when he came back from a trip to Russia suddenly hating them (probably something to do with Stalin handing him his hat and giving the business back to the Soviet state run oil companies).

World health care costs associated with oil are not paid for by the oil companies.

Jim T — I’ve listed a long list of them many times here. You are free to STFA if you are really interested. Frankly, even when hand fed the answers, way too many folks like you simply pretend to be intentionally blind, so I don’t even bother anymore.

Folks like you, who I’ve never seen post a single thing here positive about green cars, who helicopter in to cause trouble really aren’t any interest to members of a green car board.

Fracking Tax Treatments

Fracking / Natural Gas Tax Loopholes:
“Free Stuff” for business’s that can’t stand on their own two feet.
1-Up front deductions: Intangible Drilling Costs
2-Tax credits for developing tight formations
3-Cost of non-salvageable equipment
4-Intangible Completion Costs: Services performed during the drilling, testing and well completion phase
6-Depletion Allowance
7-Lease Operating Expense

Plus, fracking enjoys special exemptions from the Clean Air Act and Clean Drinking Water Act.

You left out the “domestic production activities deduction”. Originally this was supposed to be for manufacturers who decided to keep factories in the US instead of moving them overseas.

But the oil companies managed to pervert it and get tax breaks for keeping their oil wells in the US rather than moving them overseas (which of course is impossible because the oil is where it is).

Also left out percentage depletion which is just a straight-up giveaway for most small oil companies.

Oh, I left out the biggest one. WAY below market lease rates for drilling on federal land. The federal government is giving away leases on federal land for fire-sale prices. Private landowners charge a *lot* more but the feds are just giving the leases away rather than charging the market rate.

Glad you asked, Jim T.

I will quote those more knowledgable then myself.

“Fossil fuels subsidised by $10m a minute, says IMF”

Link Goes To: The Guardian | 05.18.2015-



Thomas J. Thias




In PA, where we had a major fracking infusion, our former governor was determined to not tax the frackers. That was a decision worth millions of dollars in uncollected taxes. And this was in a state where the reserves were exceptionally good, and there was no need to incentivize the frackers. But it happened anyway.

Fracking destroyed Butler County, PA – since all the fracking wells either leaked hideous chemicals (which ones supposedly are a ‘trade secret’) into all the peoples’ wells, such that they have nothing to drink, and will get sick if they shower or bathe in it. Therefore, they can’t sell their homes, since no bank will allow a mortgage for the next prospective buyer – even at 10 cents on the dollar. The way these people have been systematically screwed is beyond criminal. These companies would garner much more respect if they came forward and made the now helpless families whole. Any moral, self respecting company would do so. Unfortunately, a company like that in the United States is nearing extinction, being put out of business by the more wolf-like companies. The Koch Bros. have in general very opaque operations – so I suspect several nefarious things are ongoing. In any event, as a show of Good Faith, they could voluntarily make WHOLE people whose lives have been ruined by the Modern Fracking Industry. They wouldn’t notice the few $millions it would cost them, and good public relations are a beneficial intangible. People in general are getting really tired of being… Read more »

Here… here. Bravo and well said Bill

Clean coal technology that is highly subsidize and is a scam .

Well I tend to be sympathetic but let’s leave that for another day. There are activities that these people in the extractive industries have taken illegal advantage of helpless innocent folk. Not every company is bad, but the larger ones lately along with several smaller ones are causing real trouble. EV subsidies such as $7500 for EV purchases and 30% off home wallbox installations puts local electricians to work, and benefits the little guy. Volts and Bolts are within the wherewithall of many Americans, and are eligible for the full $7500. (They don’t actually pay this money anyway, its actually just a smaller amount taken away by government). If extractive industry spokesman cry “UNFAIR”, lets keep all the EV incentives, and also incentivize $7500 toward the purchace of the Chevy CNG Trax, or Dual-Fuel CNG Impala or Silverado. Or give a 30% tax credit to a home refueler. That way, its not ‘unfair’ that the electric utility gets the benefit. The gas utility will sell more gas, and the prestigeous CleanCities group goes gaga “GREEN,GREEN,GREEN” over anything CNG,LNG, or propane. But now that we’ve provided those incentives, keep all the existing incentives for EV’s. Like the home refueler idea, it… Read more »

If you ever bothered to read original article, not just 2 sentences quoted in insideevs, it is exactly what they advocate.

The Koch Brothers have campaigned repeatedly to keep the special tax breaks for oil companies and the below-market lease rates on federal land.

They are lying when they say they want to get rid of these subsidies — when you push them on it they suddenly claim that these aren’t subsidies. Because they’re liars.

I will completely agree with them the day they pay back every, incentive, credit, or tax exemption they have ever recieved from any government program. Including roads, public schools, libraries…etc. they are such creeps. We dealt with the tiny issue they are whining about in CA by putting a small restriction on the tax gifts to the wealthy. I say we should prohibit anyone who owns a mansion, or a net worth of over a million bucks from getting any government gifts of any sort. Bet those wankers wouldn’t go for that. Sheesh! Rave off/

“What the company doesn’t support is the government mandating which form is best and then promoting it through tax breaks.”

You first sir!

The rain that falls on your fields belongs to the corporation. The air you breath is a gift from the Koch Bros.

Recent investigations of oil companies and their representatives working in collusion to rig oil bids, is just the latest example of the so called “level playing field,” which now seems to be the catch phrase rallying cry.

Of course they don’t want to pay for what the leases are really worth so they devise various means to rig the bidding, stealing monies from the government and ultimately from the people of the U.S. I call cow fodder on their house. The house that illegal profits built.

It has been said that if the U.S. had taken the money it spent on Gulf Wars I & II, plus the war in Afghanistan, and instead spent it on buying cars… that it could have bought a new car for every single driver in the USA.

Now, I don’t know if that’s true or not, but assuming it’s somewhere within the ballpark of being true… then just imagine how much better off we would all be if the U.S. government had used the money we wasted on counter-productive wars, and instead had used it to help everyone buy a plug-in EV.

We would have already put a sizable dent into the amount of CO2 we’re pumping into the air every year, as well as guaranteeing American energy independence forever… and avoided the sort of “wars of choice, not necessity” which have made us less safe by enraging so much of the Muslim world against America.

Everybody would be so much better off! That is, everyone who doesn’t have an income dependent on Big Oil… like Jim Mahoney, board member for Koch Industries.

Officially, the GWOT passed the 1.7 trillion mark. There is somewhere north of 115 million households in the US. If Gulf War I was a trillion and if there was a good enough 25k electric car available in the early 1990’s then you’d have had a viable alternative policy.

I am with you in principle but not in execution. The other way to achieve it is to levy a large tax on oil and let individuals participating in markets figure out how best to solve it. I prefer that approach because there are so many interesting alternatives that can sprout from that – a cultural shift to more working from home, people living closer to their jobs, redesigning urban communities to make them places people want to live, and yes, electric cars too.

It doesn’t make sense for government to directly subsidize EV’s because that is too heavy handed and distorting.

Instead of a tax, how about just adding back in the external costs so the market prices reflect the true costs of fossil fuel use.

But doesn’t it just warm the heart to read about the deep concern the (compassionate conservative) Kochs have for the lesser of their brethren who may be “denied all of the economic, social, and health benefits” of combusting dinosaur juice?

Gimme a break!!
When did their ilk ever give sh$t about the wellbeing of the rest of us?

“Taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to subsidize the lifestyle choices of the wealthiest 20%”

Just the top 1%, right?


Probably more like the top 0.01% if they get thier way.

Funny that they think they should have the right to dump whatever pollutants they want to in our air and water. Doing this for free is a huge distortion of the market, and at the end of the day, free people will not stand for it.


If these bigwigs are truly concerned about the ‘little guy’, how about returning all the accrued interest from their savings accounts over the past few decades?

Used to be a mandated 5%, not 1% or less as it has been for decades.

The 0.1% directly steal this money through the money-center banks.

I can agree that subsidies are a poor solution. What we need is a carbon tax on gasoline and diesel, starting at $1/gallon and rising $1/year until it is at $10/gallon. Then we can reappraise it.

It should really be at a level that we can afford to suck the emitted carbon dioxide out of the air so that there are no net emissions, but that price is not yet well known. I’ve seen estimates that it’s anywhere from $10 to $3,000 per ton of carbon, which is too coarse to base policy on. I don’t expect cars to survive in this environment, but maybe airlines can.

Europe has had much higher gas taxes than the US for decades, and yet it wasn’t until the US launched a series of mandates and tax incentives that car makers finally started selling EV’s and PHEV’s. The problem with high gas taxes being levied before there is a significant supply of USED electric vehicles available on the market, is that the people most impacted by the tax simply don’t have the option to buy a new car. Most folks with low income don’t buy new cars at all, whether gas or electric. So they are slaves to the choices of people with more money who buy new, and who are less likely to consider the cost of gas in their car purchases. It has to work in this order: 1) Get electric vehicles across the valley so the technology can mature and scale. 2) Get enough electric vehicles into the secondary market that people actually have a choice to buy an EV or pay a high gas tax. 3) Only then, ramp up gas taxes. Taxes to modify behavior only work if people actually have an option. Otherwise it is simply a punishment tax on people who have no options.

Europe has had the effect of those gas taxes for years, in a vast market of smaller cars and engines, that have given them a large advantage in limiting their cash flows out of Europe and into Saudi Arabia.

Gas is pretty cheap now. I think everyone can afford to pay a higher tax, even if it’s as small as 25cents. People have ways of adapting to price changes. Also there’s always public transportation, which is more popular in the bigger cities anyway.

That may very well be true that they can afford a small tax increase but taxation for the sake of generating revenue and then not benefiting the tax base is stealing. Remember, once a tax is levied it doesn’t go away so when gas prices do rebound and they will whatever it settle out at will be + the tax.

“Taxes to modify behavior only work if people actually have an option.”

Indeed, that’s why I suggest increasing taxes over 10 years. We have a serious problem and we shouldn’t take an unreasonable time to start fixing it.

We’ve depended on fossil fuels for a hundred plus years for energy. Greed rules these weak willed people and drives them to lie and deceive to maintain the status quo, no matter if it means the death of the Planet.

The oil industry CEO’s and the Koch’s are the laziest slobs on the planet.

Pretending to be entrepreneurs,
where as they’ve just degenerated into assholes.

“Taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to subsidize the lifestyle choices of the wealthiest 20%.”

Well, so far we’ve seen that the vast majority of the electric vehicle tax incentives are being passed onto the second owner in the used market. So he’s getting exactly what he wants with the current tax incentive system.

Excellent point! Data supporting this assertion could be what % of gen 1 cars (mainly LEAF and Volt) were leased and resold already (mainly looking at 2011-2014 models on 2-3 year leases) The EV sales scorecard already shows that around 75% of new vehicles sold or leased in the US since 2011 had base MSRPs under $40k (so likely under $35k net after incentives, and since the 2013 price drops of LEAF, Volt, Fords, likely most under $30k net, not Teslas nor BMWs) These are mostly not the top 20% income earners (among the pool of likely new car buyers) getting these vehicles, rather mostly middle-class Americans who see personal and/or societal value in driving electric. We need more data to support this truth and refute exaggerate claims of “green privilege”.

I’m certain Koch industries has benefited only from the invisible hand of the market, not by lobbying or drowning the country in their filthy money. They even buy their own departments at colleges now.

Self interested, hypocritical, Koch bros need to be investigated for their buying of politicians in both the US and Canada.

If only we could make that illegal.
Then we could throw them in to JAIL.


jail is too good for them

“Koch opposes all market-distorting policies, including subsidies and mandates”

Sure, after the oil industry has enjoyed almost 100 years of tax subsidies, the Kochs are willing to compete with emerging clean energy on an unsubsidized basis. How generous of them.

“people should be able to make their own choices about which form of energy fits their lifestyle best, and then move forward on their choice at fair market prices.”

And I’m sure the Kochs would agree to adding back in the external costs of fossil fuels so the market prices will reflect the true costs of using them.

The Kochs are so full of it.

BTW Jim Mahoney How DO you look at yourself in the mirror every morning knowing that even your own grandchildren will be ashamed of what you have done ?

All the really poor people outside the US have a better chance getting small solar panels in the near future than what the Kochs call “power”.


Because the Kochs’ idea of power is electricity controlled by a monopolistic utility backed by a functioning government or a cabal of investors. And the really poor don’t have access to either. Big development projects aren’t coming.

And the Kochs’ charities should be asked why they aren’t helping to make these panels even cheaper.

So why are there still poor families after decades of oil and coal as main energy supplier?

He has a point that it is usually best to let the market, rather than the government, pick winners and losers. But that argument neglects a few points:
1. There are now, and have been for decades, subsidies for hydrocarbon-based technologies. Even if we get rid of those now, which I don’t see happening, that would not level the playing field after decades of subsidizing the current industries.
2. Essentially all new industries have had various forms of government subsidies or promotions. You can go back to the early days of the Republic, when canals were promoted. And then railroads. Airlines and airports. Interstate highway system. Satellite communications. Computers. And on and on. But green technologies? No, that’s a violation of the no-subsidies rule!
3. The market does not take into account externalities like pollution. So if the Koch brothers want a market-based approach, I assume they would also support a carbon fee to correct that market failure?

Let’s eliminate tax giveaways to fossil fuel industry and impose a tax on carbon to pay down the national debt. Bernie Sanders for President


We’ll happily give back our EV incentives as soon as we get our carbon fee and dividend!

“Taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to subsidize the lifestyle choices of the wealthiest 20%.”

Then let’s eliminate all oil subsidies.

Besides my prior comment about poor people directly getting solar panels, the Kochs ignore the revolution of cheap green utility-scale projects overseas, which are reported on all the time at cleantechnica.com. It was many national subsidies that allowed wind and solar to be developed to the point where they are now competitive against coal in growing areas of the world. That the Koch cult refuses to even acknowledge that this is happening, no UN plots, no liberal media lies, actual hard financial facts, tells me that there is no level playing field that they would call “free enterprise”. They will always find ways to rig the game against alternative energy. We might wonder why they don’t just cynically pivot towards solar and wind like the rest of the world. Perhaps they have realized that the day alternatives are recognized as dominant, politicians will be freed from their fossil fuel allegiances, and the lawsuits against everyone who lied about pollution in the past will be unleashed. Or perhaps they know that the solar/wind economy will never favor the cultural paradigm they demand; too labor-intensive, too cooperative, too diverse and decentralized. Unlike the multinationals, the Kochs and the other family fortunes that… Read more »

Stop Koch brothers vote Bernie Sanders FEEL THE BERN

Wait, so these guys who have been using a dragline to ‘scoop up’ ridiculous amounts of taxpayer largesse over the decades, get to whine about the other guy who pulls up on his John Deere?
Holy effin’ crap!

Transparent and misleading defense of their concerns about rehewables and EV subsidies. As others in this thread have better documented, the subsidies for traditional energy sources easily dwarf renewables.

+100K to everyone who says to cut oil subsidies!!!

Fracking, and the natural gas it produces, has done more to reduce pollution in the USA than any of the alternative energy initiatives all put together. Of course this is lost on this crowd.

But it is funny to see you all want to saw off the branch you are standing on.

Tell that to all the people who got sick in Butler Pa.

There’s been a large coal fired power plant from 1916 to this month (shutting down the last tiny remains), and my town has never had the pollution problem that Pa. had.

You’ll probably say “millions of people coughed and choked, but they never told anyone about it”.

Uh Huh. Of course 100 years ago, almost everyone heated their house that way besides, with much inferior, dirtier equipment.

So we have all these imaginary problems, but finally, after 5 years, the government has ‘officially’ stated that Fukushima Radiation is “Impacting Marine Life”.

That, finally is a true statement. If by IMPACT they mean there isn’t any more in the northern pacific. Marine Life that is.

Since Nuclear plants are no more dangerous than potato chips and bananas supposedly, the fish must have eaten too many snacks and died.

On this point Bill I have to disagree. The full impact is yet to be known and it may yet become more meaningful but surely not a dire as you’ve communicated.
About nuclear, I once saw a bumper sticker while traveling in France and when loosely translated stated, No oil, No coal, no choice… Nuclear.
Nuclear power is not the answer but is an answer to the worlds energy needs. It has been grossly mis-managed but there are countries who are managing it and doing so responsibly. Nuclear is a step in the evolution of a societies energy needs but not the solution. Managed properly is can in my opinion help tip the scale in favor of the environment and our concerns about global warming.

Everyone should read that Vanity Fair Link.

I’m in general ok with Natural Gas, but only that which is extracted with oil that would otherwise go to waste, and gas that is extracted gently out of the earth.

I knew from the start of the modern fracking craze something crooked was going on when they wouldn’t disclose what chemicals they were using.