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NJ Electric Vehicle Campaign Is An Astroturf Operation Driven By Corporate PR

Hit links & note the news management and Astro-turfing at the core of lame duck campaign

I recently questioned the wisdom and criticized some members of the NJ environmental community for pushing a flawed and regressive bill through the lame duck session, see:

In that post, I cited the gas tax as an example and also criticized NJ Spotlight’s coverage for badly mis-framing the issues:

particularly given recent climate and energy controversies that are being falsely framed by media and corporate hacks as heavy new burdens on electric ratepayers.

For example, even “liberal” NJ Spotlight is falsely framing the issue that way, relying on spin and lies like this from the business community

Coincidentally? what does Spotlight do in the wake of that criticism?

Today NJ Spotlight doubles down, with a terrible story on electric vehicles, a manufactured non-problem which implies that electric vehicles are a threat with respect to funding the NJ Transportation Trust Fund.

In that twisted absurd logic, electric vehicles – less than 1% of vehicles on the road – become the focus of the problem, not the climate emergency and the carbon polluting internal combustion vehicles!

[Note For the math challenged: The NJ Transportation Trust Fund enjoys about $1.5 BILLION in annual revenues. To consider the impact of electric vehicles on the TTF revenues, assume a typical car drives 15,000 miles/year and gets 30 miles/gallon. That amounts to about 500 gallons of gas/year. At a little over $0.40 (41.5 cents)/gallon gas tax, that’s a revenue loss of about $200/year per EV. Current estimated are less than 25,000 EV’s on the road. So that means about $5 million/year revenue loss, or just 0.33% of the total TTF revenue. At the future legislative goal of 330,000 EV’s, that still just a $66 million revenue loss, about 4% of current TTF revenues (but less, as TTF revenues are projected to increase by the time there are 330,000 EV’s on the road.

In contrast, fossil fuels benefit from HUGE SUBSIDIES, conservatively estimated in US as over $20 billion/year. On top of that, internal combustion cars contribute to the climate emergency and also are subsidized far greater than any loss of TTF revenues associated with EV’s.

The price of gas also does not reflect the adverse climate and other economic impacts reflected in the “Social Cost of Carbon”. At $100/ton, gas prices would increase about $1/gallon.

The story NJ Spotlight printed is absurd on its face and the TTF EV Commission legislation is designed to derail EV’s. ~~~ End Note]

But I want to focus on a separate issue today.

In response to that EV post, a reader forwarded me an astonishing, embarrassing and smoking gun email.

The email was written by a PR flack at The MWW PR Group.

Here’s all I needed to know about the MWW PR group:

It headed up the ‘Stronger Than the Storm’ media campaign after Hurricane Sandy touched down in New Jersey in 2013 and the agency was later notated by Governor Chris Christie as having contributed to record post-storm tourism dollars in the state.

The MWW memo advises NJ’s EV “activists”, providing “social media guidance for the week”

From: Kathleen O’Brien (TNN-MWW) < kobrien@mww.com>
Date: November 11, 2019 at 11:28:25 AM EST
To: EF-NJcomms < ef-njcomms@mww.com>
Subject:Social Post Suggestions Week of 11/11


Below please find social media guidance for the week. Please feel free to edit/revise as you see fit.

I would like to make special note that Environment NJ, along with Keep Middlesex Moving, is hosting a Ride and Drive event in New Brunswick on 11/14. A post to help amplify the event in included below.

Monday.@GovMurphy’s administration has set a goal of 330,000 plug-in #electricvehicles on the road by 2025. @SenatorGreenstein says: “We’re really on a path to make it happen.” #EVs4NJ https://bit.ly/36VLLUq

Tuesday.@SenatorGreenstein, @DanBensonNJ, @DeAngeloLD14 joined @EnvironmentNJ & @JerseyRenews last week to take #EVs for a test drive & call for passage of S2252/A4819, for cleaner & greener transportation throughout NJ #EVs4NJ https://bit.ly/33MBkRv

Wednesday.@SenatorGreenstein & East Brunswick Mayor Brad Cohen will join @EnvironmentNJ & @MiddlesexCmuter at a Ride & Drive on 11/14 to address the importance of legislation to promote #EVs & lower emissions from the transportation sector #EVs4NJ #ElectrifyNJ https://bit.ly/2Q8eTBW

Thursday– Watch Melissa Miles of the @IronboundCC discuss why Newark is adversely impacted by the effects of #climatechange #CleanEnergy4NJ https://njersy.co/2p3F69I

Friday– An average offshore wind farm with around 44 turbines is projected to add $702 million to NJ’s economy and to support 4,300 jobs- a huge win for the Garden State! #CleanEnergy4NJ #OffshoreWindNJ @DeAngeloLD14 @starledger https://bit.ly/2zsRDoR

Thank you,


Kathleen O’Brien |Account Director, Public Affairs | MWWPR | T: 609.503.8036 | M: 609.472.8035 | kobrien@mww.com

Hit the links and note the news management and Astro-turfing at the core of this lame duck campaign.

I was aware, only after the fact, that the Keep It Green Coalition spent $1 million on PR, including corporate PR hacks, on their open space campaign.

More recently, I became aware of the fact that the Renew NJ PennEast pipeline campaign was driven by a corporate PR firm.

Now the EV campaign. Strike three.

How pathetic the NJ environmental community has become that they now rely on corporate PR flacks to give them media and message guidance and organize events and lobby and communicate with the public.

Shame on them all.

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