In Brief
  • Advances in renewable energy have allowed for a boom in the electric car market, but not everyone's happy about it.
  • The oil industry — while significantly larger than the renewable energy market — is feeling the heat and taking steps to curb the success of electric cars.

On the Rise

Renewable energy has become increasingly popular as its applications have broadened. One particularly concrete application exists in the realm of transportation. Electric cars are well on their way to replacing traditional, gas-dependent models, according to several studies. Aside from helping keep the environment clean by reducing transportation’s carbon footprint, electric vehicles could also save the government billions of dollars, and revolutionize household energy generation and consumption. It could also be a very lucrative business move for the automobile industry.

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Contrary to popular belief, the electric vehicle market isn’t limited to Tesla. There are other companies keen on contributing to this growing industry — although Elon Musk’s company does seem to be leading the charge.

Desperate Times for Fossil Fuels

Of course, there is a downside: the electric car boom is a troubling trend for fossil fuels. As plug-in electric vehicles threaten to take over the roads, fossil fuels are steadily on the decline. The powerful oil industry has started to find itself resorting to somewhat desperate measures, including efforts attacking the incentives for electric vehicles and even introducing legislation that would penalize electric car drivers.

These electric vehicle fees, according to fossil fuel lobby groups like the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), are designed to level the playing field (an interesting take, since the oil business is significantly larger than the electric car industry).

Gina Coplon-Newfield, Director of Sierra Club’s Electric Vehicles Initiative, thinks that there’s more to these efforts:

Reportedly, for more than a year, Koch Industries has spent nearly $10 million dollars, and plans to do so every year, on a campaign to boost petroleum-based transportation fuels and attack government support for electric vehicles. This campaign was presumably created because of the risk [electric vehicles] place on the oil and coal industry. American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a right-wing state legislation machine funded by the Koch brothers and several other multinational corporations, introduced in December of 2015 a resolution to discourage states from providing subsidies for [electric vehicles] at their States and Nation Policy Summit.

China has already relaxed its policies to allow for more electric vehicles on the road. In the spirit of healthy competition, will the U.S. follow suit in progression, or go in the opposite — and regressive — direction?