Golden State committing regulation-assisted fiscal suicide.
California’s soon-to be-former governor is scrambling to create a meaningful legacy as he prepares to leave office in 2018.
Governor Jerry Brown has made international agreements related to climate change, continued to promote his super-expensive bullet train to nowhere, and called a large swath of the taxpayers in this state “troglodytes“.
Now, Brown has expressed interest in banning cars that burn fossil fuels.
“I’ve gotten messages from the governor asking, ‘Why haven’t we done something already?’” Mary Nichols, chair of the California Air Resources Board, said in an interview with Bloomberg News.
California has, for years, pushed automakers to offer cars that produce no emissions, turning the state into the nation’s largest market for electric cars. It has not, however, proposed an outright ban on cars running on the internal combustion engine.
There is so much wrong with this plan, I hardly know where to start my engines. Most electricity stems from coal-burning plants, and what isn’t is in the state is often powered by hydroelectricity by dams that are crumbling. Then there are the environmental impacts from lithium mining to consider.
In a 2013 report, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Design for the Environment program concluded that batteries using nickel and cobalt, like lithium-ion batteries, have the “highest potential for environmental impacts”. It cited negative consequences like mining, global warming, environmental pollution and human health impacts.
Furthermore, since everyone would be using batteries, then charging stations would have to be built to accommodate the need for electricity.
Before California becomes a cleaner state, it must consider the implications of moving towards an electric-centric transportation model, including greatly increasing the number of chargers found throughout the state, and determining how to provide ample destination charging in more congested areas. Some manufacturers are already looking to solve the problem of long charge times by investing in new battery technology, however the underlying charging problem in itself will be one that isn’t so easy to solve.
Finally, California is supposedly a major tourist destination. How is the state going to accommodate the gas-using visitors? If the gasoline stations can’t sell gas to anyone but visitors, it won’t make economic sense to stay open.
Of course, this eco-activist regulatory gem is an import. Chinese leaders said earlier this month they plan to phase out internal-combustion cars, without specifying exactly when. And the economic power-houses of The United Kingdom and France indicate they would ban such vehicles by 2040.
Auto industry analysts are quite skeptical.
Karl Brauer, an industry analyst with Kelley Blue Book in Southern California, dismissed Nichols’ prediction as simply unrealistic.
Electric cars “have come a long way” but still face enormous limitations, Brauer said. In particular, most vehicles can’t go much beyond 200 miles without having to be recharged, and having millions of cars on the road in California would simply overwhelm the available charging stations, he said. Brauer said he doesn’t expect that problem to be resolved for many years.
Automakers took a dim if somewhat measured view.
“We have been working with California on intelligent, market-based approaches to emissions reductions beyond 2025, and we hope that this doesn’t signal an abandonment of that position,” said John Bozzella, president of the Association of Global Automakers, in a prepared statement. “To reach our goals, we will need continued investment in new technologies, the infrastructure to support them, and, perhaps most importantly, consumers who will want to buy them.” The association represents foreign automakers’ U.S. divisions.
If and when electric cars become practical and cost-effective to drive, then Californians won’t have to be compelled to purchase them.
However, logic and reason have rarely been key components in California rule-making. It is difficult to see the Golden State commit regulatory-assisted fiscal suicide.DONATE
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