Nineteen seriously misguided Republican senators joined with Democrats yesterday to pass a behemoth 2,720-page-long $1.2 trillion ''infrastructure'' spending bill of which a mere 23% — about $127 billion of $548 billion in new federal spending — is earmarked for popular priorities that most people associate with that term: highways, bridges, tunnels, ports and waterways.
Among other items, that spendathon earmarks $7.5 billion for charging stations to service a transition from 3% of current electric vehicles (EVs) to 50% in the next nine years ... while simultaneously replacing the 80% of U.S. energy we get from hydrocarbons by increasing the paltry 3% now intermittently supplied by wind and solar.
As a dangerously irresponsible national security consequence, America will trade away oil and gas independence for reliance upon China that controls 80% of the world’s vital rare earth materials needed for those new EV batteries and that nighttime solar energy storage.
Although America has an abundance of rare earth materials, environmental opposition to mining them has resulted in a regulatory minefield of local, state and federal laws. Mountain Pass — the sole U.S. remaining rare earth mine — sends all its mined ore to China for processing.
Mining required for batteries will soon dominate the world production of many minerals, and already accounts for about 40% and 25%, respectively, of all global lithium and cobalt.
In any case, how do those ''clean energy'' enthusiasts plan to protect the environment from oil drilling while, in turn, mining and processing humongous amounts of structural materials using petroleum-fueled systems needed to build endless expanses of gigantic wind turbines?
Constructing and replacing each one of them consumes about 30,000 tons of iron ore, 50,000 tons of concrete, and 900 tons of plastics for the huge blades. Many of those already installed are reaching their 15-20-year end-of-life.
In addition, each Tesla-class battery requires mining, moving and processing more than 500,000 pounds of materials: 20 times a typical petroleum engine uses over the life of a car.
Put another way, averaged over a 1,000-pound battery’s life, each mile of driving an EV ''consumes'' about five pounds of earth moved by hydrocarbons.
Also keep in mind that meeting those green new delusions will add enormously to the tonnage of U.S. and global waste ... countless millions of tons of batteries, including toxic rare earth elements — such as dysprosium they contain — will become landfill garbage.
And wasn’t the Biden administration’s original reason for killing the Keystone XL pipeline and ending drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to help save the planet from billions of years of climate change?
Why, then, did it decide to drop U.S. sanctions on Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline under the Baltic to supply gas to Germany — an energy-starved country that has built far more wind turbines (and power outages) than any other in Europe?
Meanwhile, China, the world’s fifth largest oil producer and largest CO2 emitter, gets a free pass from the Paris climate pact to continue to add the equivalent of about one coal-fired power plant each week, plus build others for Pakistan.
America and the world are already dangerously dependent on Taiwan, which is under threat by China, for computer chips that go into virtually all of today’s myriad electronic devices ... very much including both conventional petrol and plug-in vehicles.
General Motors, Ford, Toyota, Volkswagen, Honda, Nissan,and Subaru have all had to adjust production as a result of the scarcity of semiconductors, a condition that will only become more precarious as EV numbers multiply.
Nevertheless, with thanks (or no thanks) to rich promises of generous federal and state taxpayer subsidies — the auto industry is all-in on cashing in on lots of green afforded by a bonanza government spend-a-palooza.
In any case, they — and we — may have little choice in the matter.
Joe Biden just signed a new executive order intended to force a change in auto buyers’ behavior. The EO demands that half of all new vehicles sold by 2030 be ''zero-emission'' models. This definition applies to plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), battery electric vehicles (BEVs), and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs), but traditional hybrids and newer mid-hybrid technology vehicles don’t qualify.
Car makers also expect the Biden White House to issue rules mandating a 3.7% annual increase in fuel efficiency for the next two years ... a figure agreed between Ford and three other auto companies and the state of California during the Barack Obama years which was later erased by Donald Trump.
Whether or not that plug-in market ever materializes is quite a different matter given that no one has bothered to figure out where all the multi-trillions will come from to upgrade power grid capacity to accommodate them.
As a harbinger of what to expect, California EV owners have been warned not to charge their vehicles during heat waves after the sun goes down to avoid blackouts that disrupt home air conditioners.
Wouldn’t you have imagined that people in charge might have predicted this issue?
After all, might we possibly take some teachable lessons from other oligarchies — notably in Beijing and Moscow — that have attempted similar centralized government demand-control plans?
Instead, let’s recognize before it’s too late that this massive EV switcheroo plan really has nothing whatsoever to do with being clean, green, or climate-friendly.
Putting the matter pure and simple — it is a sweeping and destructive exercise in social and economic reengineering which will decimate America’s energy independence, create social and economic poverty, and empower our commercial and national security adversaries including China, Russia and Iran.
Larry Bell is an endowed professor of space architecture at the University of Houston where he founded Sasakawa International Center for Space Architecture and the graduate space architecture program. His latest of 10 books, "What Makes Humans Truly Exceptional," (2021) is available on Amazon along with all others. Read Larry Bell's Reports — More Here.
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