The New Electrocution

Deadly risks of the race to an all-electric America

Sometimes the difference between our idealistic vision of the future and reality can be humorous; in the case of President Biden’s green energy plan, it’s deadly.

Futuristic green cityIt is nice to imagine that the New York of 2050 will resemble the capitol city of Xandar from Guardians of the Galaxy – clean, green and happy. There is no doubt they solved their energy problems on this futuristic, fictional planet. Unfortunately, we cannot wish this vision into being.

In his quest to be a “transformational” president, Joe Biden is pushing hard to reduce fossil fuel usage and make America run on “clean” electricity in just a few years. The federal government is spending hundreds of billions of dollars to subsidize a fast transition from gasoline-powered cars to fully electric vehicles (EVs). He’s getting help from Democrats in blue states like Governor Hochul here in New York who was announced a war on natural gas stoves. States are shuttering traditional power plants and relying on solar/wind farms.

It all sounds great until you look harder and realize this race to make America more like Xandar is delusional – and has deadly consequences. Here are the 7 Deadly Sins of Biden’s all-electric haste:

    1. Electric vehicles are not ready for prime time
    2. Relying on solar and wind means brownouts and blackouts
    3. Going green hurts poor people
    4. Green solutions are still dirty
    5. Our grid cannot handle all of America’s energy needs
    6. Relying on one source of energy endangers lives
    7. Relying on one source of energy is an unjustifiable strategic risk

1. Not Ready for Prime Time. Did you see the photo of dead Teslas in Chicago? Their batteries could not handle a Midwest winter. Heck, they could not even be recharged. A few years ago, several electric cars died on a Virginia highway during a snowstorm, trapping motorists in the freezing cold. Most of the country does not have recharging stations. Biden will ultimately spend trillions on his unrealistic EV push, but we are decades away from the day when America’s fleet can safely and cleanly be majority EV.

2. Brownouts and Blackouts. For decades, one of the quality-of-life characteristics that distinguished first world countries from third world countries was the reliability of power. California’s reliance on unreliable solar and wind means rolling blackouts in the summer, when people need power to most. The same goes for cold weather places like Alberta, Canada. During a recent winter storm, snow eliminated solar energy and very low temperatures took windmills off-line. It led to rolling blackouts. People who relied solely on electricity to heat their homes were in danger of freezing to death – something unimaginable just a few years ago. Eliminating reliable sources of energy –especially relatively clean natural gas– without realistic means of replacing that energy is irresponsible and puts lives in jeopardy.

3. Hurts the Poor. The first Tesla models had a very high price tag, making them a luxury for the rich. Green energy is proving to be much more expensive than traditional sources. Shifting rapidly to solar and wind-based power generation may be a luxury that green energy zealots can afford, but the cost will, economically speaking, roll downhill. As always, working-class people and older folks on fixed incomes will bear the brunt in the form of bigger utility bills and higher prices for everything that gets delivered to grocery and department stores. This pain for poorer people is a reality. Very few activists are forthcoming about it.

4. Green is not Always Clean. As I’m sure you know, there is no guarantee that the electricity coming through your socket is from green sources. There is another big problem with going green. The raw materials used to make batteries and solar panels are toxic. Mining rare minerals is a dirty business, as is disposing of batteries and solar panels.

5. The Grid. I lived through two big blackouts in New York back in the 1970s but they pale in comparison to the cascading collapse of the electrical grid in 2003. It plunged parts of the Northeast from Toronto to New York into darkness for two days. Without eliminating fossil fuels, the ever-growing need for electricity already puts great strain on America’s electrical grid. If everyone was plugging in their EV overnight, grid collapses would be more common, disrupting lives and our economy. This is a weakness that needs to be resolved before we go all-electric (or anything close to that).

6. Endangers Lives. After Superstorm Sandy, my home had no electricity for multiple weeks. However, I did have natural gas. I could cook for my family. Thank goodness I did not have an electric stove! I could heat my home to keep my family healthy as the temperature dropped in November. Being completely reliant on one source of energy endangers our families.

7. Unjustifiable Strategic Risk. Both sci-fi and action movies have used EMP weapons in their plots for decades. This is not the only way to attack an electrical grid, but the imagery is powerful. Long story short, imagine if America was totally reliant on electricity and China or Iran could knock out our grid. From a national security perspective, that would be a disaster. It would also be a disaster for our citizens. Certainly, almost every business would be shut down. In a big city like New York, we could live off what’s in our refrigerators are a couple of days but then would have to leave in order to survive. How exactly do you move 8 million people if the trains don’t work and all those electric cars and buses cannot be recharged? It is completely unjustifiable and irresponsible for the federal government to make America completely dependent upon electricity without a plan for addressing this existential risk.

So, does this perspective make me a climate change denier? No, not at all. Climate change is always happening, whether we perceive it or not. I live on a peninsula between the Atlantic Ocean and Jamaica Bay. The water is rising. I more than perceive that.

My solar panels.It also does not mean I am against green energy. We put solar panels on the first home I owned. We bought a Prius 15 years ago. I continue to advocate for wind and solar generation at Rockaway’s former toxic waste site across from the ferry station.

So, what would I do live differently? I will give you the short take since I have a policy section on my website, but it starts with understanding that we are talking about a massive change to a country with 330 million people. We do not need an energy revolution. If we did then the president would need to speak directly to the American people explaining the requirement for desperate measures and a clear explanation of the cost – both financial and human.

Fortunately, we do not need a revolution. Revolutionary tactics make no sense, especially since the actions of one country – even a country as important as the United States of America – will not change the global climate. Instead, we need an intelligent transformation strategy. Such a strategy would achieve long-term clean energy goals without the unnecessary risks described above and without sacrificing America’s place as the leading world economy.

Specific actions include:

    1. Keep natural gas in the energy mix. It’s cleaner than coal, more reliable than wind/solar and abundant in the United States.
    2. Leverage more nuclear energy. Nuclear is the best, cleanest source of reliable energy.
    3. Promote hybrid cars, not EV’s. It will take decades for EV’s and their support infrastructure to mature. Hybrids are a proven technology dramatically improves fuel efficiency.
    4. Scrap and replace the Paris Accords. Feel-good international agreements punish the United States without solving any problems. America should take its own path unless and until China and India agree to radical changes.
    5. Make long-term investments in carbon capture technology. This is a “moonshot” than will take decades but the ability to remove greenhouse gases from our atmosphere would be a game-changer.

President Biden was elected with the promise of getting America back to “normal.” Instead, he and/or his staff have embraced radical and unconstitutional actions on several fronts. Overall, his energy policies have hurt America by:

  • Driving up the cost of living
  • Making us more dependent on international bad actors
  • Spending hundreds of billions of dollars on bad industrial policy

Biden’s mad rush to an all-electric America is his worst energy policy. It won’t achieve its stated goals but will do great damage to our citizens, result in needless deaths, and leave America more vulnerable to foreign attack. It’s an electrocution of our future.

By making a smart transition, we will create a better future without destroying the present and undermining the next generation of Americans