Musk fires back at coal CEO who called Tesla a 'fraud'

Coal-mining CEO: 'Tesla is a fraud'
Coal-mining CEO: 'Tesla is a fraud'

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has a few words for the man who called his company "a fraud."

Musk tweeted out his response to comments Murray Energy CEO Robert E. Murray made on CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Monday, when he said the green car maker "has gotten $2 billion from the taxpayer," and "has not made a penny yet in cash flow."

"You could close every coal-fired plant in the United States today and you would not affect the temperature of the Earth at all," Murray also said.

Musk first linked to the video on Twitter, then said the "real fraud going on is denial of climate science." He added that Tesla receives far less in subsidies than the coal industry, asking, "How about we both go to zero?"

Musk tweet 1

A Tesla representative declined to comment beyond the Tweet.

To be sure, renewables receive a far greater share of direct federal financial support for electricity production, according to an analysis by the Energy Information Administration.

In 2013, electricity production and federal utilities that rely on coal received $1.08 billion in direct cash outlays through federal programs, tax benefits, research and development funding, loans and guarantees, the EIA found. That amounted to 6 percent of such funding.

In the same year, electricity production from renewables received $15.04 billion in funding from the same sources — or 72 percent of federal support of that kind. Wind accounted for about 39 percent of the renewables subsidies, and solar attracted 35 percent.

Murray said it would take a lot of investment, and "many, many years" to advance the technology to make coal truly clean burning. While he criticized Musk for taking subsidies, Murray called on the government to make a commitment to supporting clean coal technology.

"Just as the government is supporting through the people's taxes windmills and solar panels, they need to support the clean coal technology. … We need a level playing field," he said.

Under President Barack Obama, the Department of Energy in December 2013 offered $8 billion in loan guarantees for projects that aim to reduce, avoid or sequester greenhouse gases from fossil fuels. The program is open to clean coal technologies such as carbon capture and storage technology.