Robert Murray, the 76-year-old CEO of Murray Energy Corp, showed up on CNBC this Monday to criticize Tesla for taking taxpayer subsidies and failing to turn enough profits.
“Tesla is a fraud! He’s gotten two billion dollars from taxpayers, has not made a penny in cash flow — here again, it’s subsidies! Hilary Clinton said ‘they need government help’. She was talking about Elon Musk,” Murray said in an Ohio accent. He runs the biggest coal producing company in the U.S.
“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. Not at all,” he added gleefully.
Those are bold accusations. To add insult to injury, almost everything Murray said is factually incorrect. This didn’t bode well with Elon Musk who took to twitter to school the old fox who isn’t quite ready yet to accept he’s dealing in an obsolete business — a cancerous one, too.
Real fraud going on is denial of climate science. As for "subsidies", Tesla gets pennies on dollar vs coal. How about we both go to zero?
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 10, 2016
May I remind everyone that 99% of climate scientists, a.k.a. the experts here, agree that climate change is real, caused by humans and requires immediate mitigating action. Concerning Murray’s financial allegations, I don’t know if he is the worst investor ever or simply out to misdirect people. I stand by the latter because you can’t be in his business for this long and be that ignorant.
Meanwhile, coal received $20 billion in subsidies last year. The US’s largest coal field, the Powder River Basin, makes $2.9bn a year in federal subsidies. This equates to $8 per tonne, almost 25% of the sale price.
Did I mention coal kills millions of people worldwide each year?
With that many Model S sales, there are more than a few pennies in cash flow. I hate to say it, though, but Elon’s company is also in a bit of financial trouble, much to Murray’s delight. Tesla Motors lost about $4,000 for every Model S it sold last year, and it burned $359 million in cash last quarter in a bull market for luxury vehicles.
Elon isn’t phased out about this minor setback, though. He has almost half a million pre-orders for the upcoming Tesla Model 3. He’ll have all the cash he needs in no time if Tesla Motors finds a way to honor all of these reservations.
In the meantime, coal is tanking. The year 2014 saw demand for coal peak for the first time and has since dropped. Coal plants all over the world are getting shut down. The UK wants to get rid of all of them by 2025, for instance. Peabody Energy, the world’s biggest coal company, sold stocks below $1 when it used to be $72 in 2011. Really, coal is done for. As for Mr. Murray — he’s just another old owl who just can’t get with the program.