The Biden administration sought Tesla’s help with crafting policies on electric vehicle reforms despite the president’s public spat with company CEO Elon Musk, according to Reuters.
On the same day that President Biden took the oath of office early last year, Dallas Burkholder, a staffer at the Environmental Protection Agency, emailed Rohan Patel, a top lobbyist for Tesla, Reuters is reporting.
The Biden administration wanted Tesla’s input as it relates to a plan to significantly expand the scope of its renewable fuel subsidies for electric vehicles.
The US Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), an EPA-run federal program that started in 2005, requires transportation fuel sold in the US to contain a minimum volume of renewable fuels.
Until now, it has been primarily a subsidy for corn-based ethanol.
Burkholder’s email to Patel set off a series of meetings between Biden officials and representatives from Tesla as well as groups representing biogas producers and charging station firms such as Waste Management, Republic Services, and ChargePoint Holdings.
The Biden administration has been a big promoter of electric vehicles. Last year, the president signed into law a bipartisan infrastructure bill that included $7.5 billion for new electric charging stations.
The president has also advocated for reinstating expired tax credits to encourage consumers to buy electric vehicles.
The administration’s outreach to Tesla stands in stark contrast to the public feud between Biden and Musk.
Earlier this month, Biden took a swipe at Musk when the president was asked about the tech mogul’s prediction that the US economy was due for a recession.
When he was told that Musk had a “super bad feeling” about the economy, Biden wryly replied: “Lots of luck on his trip to the moon.”
Musk snarked back on Twitter with a link to a 2021 NASA press release about SpaceX winning a $2.89 billion contract to send the next American astronauts to the moon in preparation for an eventual trip to Mars, where Musk plans to establish a human colony.
“Thanks Mr President!” he added.
Earlier this year, the White House declined to invite Musk to a summit of business leaders that included the heads of Tesla rivals such as Ford and General Motors.
Musk took particular umbrage at a post on Biden’s Twitter account, which included a video of the president standing with GM CEO Mary Barra and declared that “companies like GM and Ford are building more electric vehicles here at home than ever before.”
“Biden is treating the American public like fools,” Musk seethed.
In another tweet, Musk quipped that Biden was “a damp [sock] puppet in human form.”
When asked why Tesla was not included in that event, White House press secretary Jen Psaki noted the three firms in attendance were “the three largest employers of the United Auto Workers” — an indication that Tesla was snubbed because its hourly employees aren’t unionized.
Tesla owns a significant portion of the current US electric vehicle marketplace. The company delivered a record 936,172 electric cars in the 2021 fiscal year, an increase of 87 percent compared to the previous year.
Musk revealed that he plans to vote for Republican candidates for the first time. He has angered liberals with his plans to buy Twitter and alter its content moderation policy so as to allow for greater freedom of expression.