Tesla’s Elon Musk struck back at Robert Murray, chief executive of Murray Energy Corp., after the latter called Tesla “a fraud” in an interview. In a tweet, Musk said the real fraud was denying “climate science” and went on to add that the subsidies Murray spoke against in his interview with CNBC were pennies on the dollar, unlike what Big Coal gets from the government.
The reason Murray lashed out at Tesla, which was in an interview with CNBC, was because the company, according to him, had failed to generate a profit despite the subsidies it receives, but he went on to defend coal vehemently:
“By the way, you could close down every coal-fired plant in the United States today, and you would not affect the temperature of the earth at all,” he said.
Musk took to Twitter in response.
The ultimate target of Murray’s attack was actually the Democratic party for its financial support for electric vehicles, and specifically the party’s presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, who, Murry said, was “supporting her friends” instead of actually working to protect the environment.
Murray Energy Corp. is the biggest player in a field that is being shaken by new regulations aiming to fight climate change, on top of growing competition from natural gas as an energy source. These changes have already led to numerous bankruptcies in the coal industry, production cuts and layoffs in the thousands. Murray Energy recently warned it was looking to lay off 80 percent of its workforce, or about 4,000 people.
The irony of the accusation regarding Tesla’s subsidies is rich, in that the coal industry continues to receive subsidies from the same government that Murray is blaming for supporting electric vehicles. According to a recent report from the government, the U.S. has 16 separate subsidy mechanisms for fossil fuels, together worth over US$8 billion annually.
The fossil fuel subsidies were released under an agreement with China, which revealed 9 separate subsidy mechanisms worth US$14.5 billion annually. The subsidies are inefficient, according to Clean Technica, but for the time being their removal is unlikely, because the Republican-weighted Congress would need to vote them down.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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