Pro-fossil Fuel Group's Video, 'The Dirty Secrets of Electric Cars,' Debunked Again and Again

Pro-fossil Fuel Group's Video, 'The Dirty Secrets of Electric Cars,' Debunked Again and Again
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Just last week, we fact-checked and debunked every line of “The Dirty Secrets of Electric Cars,” a video produced by Fueling U.S. Forward (FUSF), a Koch-funded campaign to push fossil fuels. That video represents the group’s first public pivot from fossil fuel boosterism to electric vehicle (EV) attacks. More electric vehicle experts are also picking the video apart.

One effort is this video highlighting many of the same falsehoods we wrote about, and which adds key context about some of the video footage. Like, for instance, the fact that the photo that Fueling U.S. Forward claims is a lithium, cobalt, or cerium mining operation is actually a copper mine. Check it out:

Another notable response is on HybridCars.com, where editor-in-chief Jeff Cobb has a lengthy and fact-filled take down of the “Dirty Secrets” video. Cobb writes:

“If a disinformation and error-filled video co-sponsored by a front group for oil merchants the Koch Brothers has its way, people will want to think twice about ‘dirty’ electric cars.

Making the rounds by a coordinated effort including sponsored Facebook posts widely disseminated, and being picked up here and there by media, the video decries their toxicity and makes them complicit with the exploitation of children in poor nations.

The product of Fueling U.S. Forward, a pro-fossil fuel advocacy founded August 2016, and presently focusing its message on lower income Americans, the video titled ‘Dirty Secrets of Electric Cars’ has clean-car advocates on the alert.”

Getting into the meat of the video, Cobb explains:

“Regarding the FUSF’s second paragraph, they were able to squeeze in no less than six outright factual inaccuracies.

1) None of the metals in modern electric car batteries are classified as being a human or plant toxicity concern; (2) None are considered particularly rare in occurrence or hard to extract; (3) None are classified as “rare earths;” (4) Lithium is not a rare earth metal; (5) Cobalt is not a rare earth metal; (6) Only cobalt is mined primarily in China and DRC, and the rest of battery metals (which make up the majority of the battery) are extracted elsewhere. And many other countries produce cobalt, including Canada which produces almost the same amount as China. And hand mining only makes up a very small portion of extraction and is already being banned by Apple and others. So the notion that electric cars depend on the mining shown in the video is misleading.”

As of July 18, the original Fueling U.S. Forward video has reached over 1.3 million views on Facebook and it appears that Fueling U.S. Forward is investing in promotion on users’ feeds. Since the public launch of Fueling U.S. Forward, the DeSmog project Koch vs Clean has been tracking the group, and revealing its ties to and funding from Koch Industries. We will continue to track the campaign as more attacks are launched, and will continue to fact-check and share the work of other EV experts who fight back against these deceptive, fact-starved efforts from Fueling U.S. Forward and other parties in the Koch network.

Main image: Screenshot from “DEBUNKED ‘Dirty Secrets of Electric Cars’” YouTube video

Pro-fossil Fuel Group's Video, 'The Dirty Secrets of Electric Cars,' Debunked Again and Again
Ben Jervey is a Senior Fellow for DeSmog and directs the KochvsClean.com project. He is a freelance writer, editor, and researcher, specializing in climate change and energy systems and policy. Ben is also a Research Fellow at the Institute for Energy and the Environment at Vermont Law School. He was the original Environment Editor for GOOD Magazine, and wrote a longstanding weekly column titled “The New Ideal: Building the clean energy economy of the 21st Century and avoiding the worst fates of climate change.” He has also contributed regularly to National Geographic News, Grist, and OnEarth Magazine. He has published three books—on eco-friendly living in New York City, an Energy 101 primer, and, most recently, “The Electric Battery: Charging Forward to a Low Carbon Future.” He graduated with a BA in Environmental Studies from Middlebury College, and earned a Master’s in Energy Regulation and Law at Vermont Law School. A bicycle enthusiast, Ben has ridden across the United States and through much of Europe.

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