Lawmakers shouldn’t calibrate Virginia or America to electric vehicles and green energy
As they open their 30-day session on Jan. 11, the Virginia Senate and House of Representatives must correct some serious energy mistakes they made two years ago, when Democrats controlled almost all state government and passed the Virginia Clean Economy Act. said goodbye.
One of its party briefs requires Virginia to adopt California’s requirement to sell only low-emission vehicles (LEVs) by model year 2025 and zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) by MY 2035. That means that in just under twelve years, only new electric vehicles (EVs) could be sold in Virginia.
The VCEA, again mimicking California, will also require a massive shift from affordable, reliable power generated from coal and natural gas to expensive, weather-dependent, land-intensive wind and solar power, stabilized and supported by giant batteries, in addition to electric vehicles.
As I have already explained (here, here, here and here), this is not practical. Texas, Buffalo and the Midwest have shown that heavy reliance on wind and sun during snowstorms can cause deadly power outages. California urged residents not to charge their soon-to-be-mandatory electric vehicles during last summer’s heatwaves to avoid blackouts. Switzerland could ban EV charging this winter for the same reason.
The Suburban Virginia Republican Coalition PAC (SUVGOP) recognizes these realities and understands that the wind turbines, solar panels and transmission lines will not be in Democratic strongholds like Alexandria, Arlington, Falls Church and Richmond. You will be in beautiful rural Virginia, which will also be hardest hit by bans on gasoline and diesel vehicles. SUVGOP has therefore set the ball rolling to reverse these ill-advised laws by launching a campaign to have the LEV/ZEV mandates revoked.
SUVGOP calls its campaign “Don’t CA my VA”. (When I lived in the Centennial State, bumper stickers proclaimed a more blatant version of that message: “Don’t Californicate Colorado.”)
Arguments for avoiding or terminating LEV/ZEV mandates are compelling – for Virginia and America.
* While EVs are great for short trips and some motorists, they won’t get you far on your 800-mile vacation trip. Charging can take hours depending on several factors; and charging stations are more restricted off the main highways.
* You don’t want to be stuck in your electric vehicle during a hurricane evacuation or snowstorm, especially since its already limited battery life decreases in cold weather and when using heater or AC power.
* EVs (and backup batteries) can erupt into chemically fueled infernos, especially when submerged in water. This can be catastrophic and fatal if the EV is inside a house or underground parking lot (or on a cargo ship loaded with EVs). The fires cannot be extinguished with water.
* Electric vehicles require three to four times more metals than internal combustion engine cars: copper, iron, nickel, aluminum, cobalt, lithium, rare earths and others. These materials do not only appear via Materials Acquisition for Global Industrial Change Mechanisms (MAGIC). They have to be dug up and processed somewhere.
The Chinese company BYD Auto alone used 13,000 tons of copper to manufacture electric vehicles in 2016. Based on average porphyry ore deposits today, for every 100,000 tons of copper, 23,000,000 tons of copper ore must be processed after removing 35,000,000 tons of overlying rock – using explosives and fossil fuels!
Begin by calculating how many billion tons of copper and other metals and minerals would be required for all electric vehicles, wind turbines, solar panels, transmission lines, and grid stabilization and backup batteries in Virginia or your state or the United States or the entire world, plan a mandate . Then calculate how many trillions of tons of ore it would require—and how much mining, blasting, processing, and fuel.
Where will all this work take place? In whose backyards? With how much ecological destruction, air and water pollution, hazardous waste generation, slave and child labor, and human health risks?
“Clean” energy and vehicles? Virginia EV’s tailpipes can produce zero emissions – maybe even at the power source if it’s wind or solar powered, when the wind is blowing and the sun is shining.
But there are no “zero emissions” for mining, processing and manufacturing. It’s just happening elsewhere, often in Africa or Asia, often by Chinese companies – affecting air and water quality, landscape, farmland, habitats, wildlife health and well-being.
Meanwhile, millions of acres in Virginia and the United States would be covered with turbines, switchboards, transformers, and transmission lines; Millions of birds, bats and other animals are killed every year.
Conclusion: There is no such thing as “clean, green, renewable, sustainable” energy or vehicles. It’s just a question of where and how and how much mining and material processing, manufacturing and emissions take place. It just depends on how good the “green” PR programs are; and whether US environmentalists, journalists and politicians acknowledge these realities…or cancel and censor….
Earth’s atmospheric, oceanic, and climatic systems are global. Habitat and species loss is a global problem. We should think globally and act locally.
In terms of backup batteries, the VCEA mandates the purchase of 3,100 megawatts of storage. If the legislator assumes 3,100 megawatt hours, around 36,000 Tesla 85 kWh modules of half a ton would be required; and it would still meet less than 1% of Virginia’s average daily electricity use (and less than 0.5% of peak demand). Batteries used to stabilize wind-solar grid fluctuations are not included.
Virginia legislators, therefore, must also address these all-important issues — with some precision:
* How many wind turbines, solar panels, transformers, backup/grid balancing battery modules, and miles of new transmission lines will The Old Dominion need to replace existing coal and gas generation?
* How many more will be needed after half of all cars, trucks and buses are electric? After restaurants and new and remodeled homes are forced to have electric home and water heaters, stoves and ovens instead of gas — and upgrade home and neighborhood electrical systems to handle the extra loads?
* Where and on whose property will all this “renewable” equipment and power lines be moved? How many millions of acres of land and coastal areas (and their wildlife) will be affected? Will residents or local governments be able to veto developments? How often is eminent domain used?
* How many millions (billions?) tons of metals, minerals, carbon fiber composites, plastics, concrete and other materials are needed? How much ore, overburden and fuel? How many tons of pollutants are cumulatively emitted during the mining, processing, manufacturing and transport process?
* How many of these materials (and turbines, panels, battery modules and transformers) will come from China or other opposing nations or their proxies?
* Under what laws on pollution control, protection of wildlife and endangered species, workplace safety, slave and child labor, and other “responsible sourcing” laws is all this work done?
* Where are worn out, broken and obsolete solar panels, giant wind turbine blades and other non-recyclable equipment dumped?
* How many billions or trillions of dollars will all of this cost taxpayers and taxpayers in Virginia and the US?
It takes more than declaring that action taken under “clean economy” laws is “in the public interest” to achieve this. It’s important that lawmakers look beyond the tailpipes and beyond the borders of Virginia or the US to avoid wind and sun destroying the planet to save it from fossil fuels and “man-made climate change.”
The 2023 legislature is a perfect opportunity to start reviewing assumptions, misconceptions and mandates of a “clean economy” – and implementing reality-based ESG (environment-social-governance) principles. Are Virginia’s lawmakers up to the task?
Paul Driessen is Senior Policy Analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of books and articles on energy, environmental, climate and human rights issues.