Conservative megadonors don’t like this Nevada Republican’s support for electric vehicles
A tax incentive for electric vehicles proposed by Nevada Republican Senator Dean Heller — who is currently running for re-election — is under attack by Koch Industries, the company owned and operated by billionaire conservatives (and active mega-donors) Charles and David Koch.
According to a letter obtained by Bloomberg, Koch Industries is lobbying against Heller’s proposed bill, introduced earlier this month, to expand a law granting a $7,500 tax credit to people who buy an electric vehicle. The argument presumes that only rich people buy electric cars.
“Subsidizing the wealthy with tax dollars is not only bad policy, it also increases our national deficit,” the Oct. 24 letter read. Koch lobbyist Philip Ellender signed the letter.
“I urge you to oppose the expansion of credits on plug-in electric vehicles (EV) through 2022,” Ellender wrote.
Currently there is a cap on the number of tax credits the federal government can issue. Only the first 200,000 electric vehicles (EVs) sold by the end of 2018 would qualify for the full $7,500, while cars delivered in the first half of 2019 would get half as much. Heller’s proposal would get rid of the cap and extend it for another four years.
Heller’s opponent, Jacky Rosen (D) is co-sponsoring efforts in the House to have the tax credit extended through 2028. The race is currently a toss-up, and Democrats are watching closely to see if the party could flip the Senate seat.
In recent days, Heller has doubled down on his support for Trump, but his support for electric vehicles goes against much of his party’s support for a coal revival, fossil fuels, and related industries. That’s likely because Tesla built its “gigafactory” in Nevada, investing more than $400 million and employing more than 3,000 people.
The Kochs — who have earned their wealth largely from fossil fuels and petrochemicals — have a history of lobbying against electric vehicles.
In 2016, they launched a front group called Fueling U.S. Forward to promote fossil fuels. As the Huffington Post reported that year, the group planned to spend $10 million annually “to boost petroleum-based transportation fuels and attack government subsidies for electric vehicles.” As of October last year, it’s unclear whether it is still active.
At the end of September, a coalition of conservative groups largely funded by the Kochs sent a letter to the House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) urging that Congress put a stop to the expansion of the electric vehicle tax credit — the same one Heller is now also trying to support.