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24 February, 2020 00:00 00 AM

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The mad rush to electric vehicles

Duggan Flanakin

Tesla’s stock market value is already bigger than Ford and General Motors combined, says a report in Forbes magazine. Elon Musk’s company had already received nearly $5 billion in federal subsidies by 2015, helping him amass a net worth of $31 billion. Who says government cannot make anyone rich?

But hold on. An ascendant Bernie Sanders has called for a massive expansion of government-run electricity production. He claims to be no friend of billionaires and is running against multiple billionaires, including two Democrat candidates and 23 contributors to Mayor Pete’s campaign.

But he sure is helping the rich. Sanders and many other politicos have championed a multi-state effort to end the sale of vehicles with internal combustion (IC) engines. So have several European nations. Related goals include phasing out coal, oil and natural gas for heating, electric power generation and other uses.  

As Politico reports, a major part of Sanders’ $16 trillion Greener New Deal  allocates massive new funding for the four existing “power marketing administrations” that are overseen by the Department of Energy, Tennessee Valley Authority and a new federal agency. The money would go to vastly expand their solar, wind and even geothermal power production.

Matt Palumbo, writing in the Bongino Report, says the Sanders plan will need $2 trillion just for infrastructure, dwarfing the cost of the interstate highway system, to add 800 gigawatts of intermittent, weather-dependent wind and solar energy. Right now Sanders insists that he is not “nationalizing” energy production, but merely providing wholesale energy to public and private local suppliers. However, these subsidized government-run facilities will surely control the energy market. That looks like nationalization in all but official nomenclature.  

Private companies that now rely on coal or natural gas will be further squeezed by mandated deep cuts in CO2 emissions. Meanwhile, energy demand for a mandated and growing fleet of electric vehicles will soar, requiring still more wind turbines, solar panels, backup batteries, transmission lines, and metals, minerals and mining demands on unprecedented scales – coupled with rampant environmental destruction, child labor, and horrific increases in cancer and other diseases from the absence of workplace safety and pollution control standards.

Americans have expressed great displeasure over subsidizing EVs for the wealthy, a recent American Energy Alliance poll found. Only one in five voters would trust the federal government to make decisions about what kinds of cars should be subsidized – or mandated. Many do not even like, or cannot afford, the innovations already introduced for internal combustion vehicles, as evidenced by data showing that the average age of the U.S. vehicle fleet has increased in recent years.

Who can blame them for being angry? Wealthy EV buyers can get $7500 federal and up to $2500 state tax credits (not just deductions), free or low-cost charging at stations installed at taxpayer and electricity consumer cost, and access to HOV lanes even with no passengers. EV drivers pay no gasoline tax, and thus pay nothing for road construction, repair and maintenance. And as states “go green” and eliminate fossil fuel and nuclear power, average Americans will have to endure the eyesores, noise, habitat destruction and wildlife losses that will come with millions more wind turbines and solar panels.

Nevertheless, despite public qualms, most automakers have joined the EV movement. Like gossip in a small town, proposals and promises to ban or end production of IC engines have spread like wildfire. The Chinese-owned Swedish automaker Volvo announced in 2017 it would stop designing new IC engines. German giant Daimler (Mercedes Benz) followed suit last year. And in the United States, General Motors in 2018 announced plans to offer only battery-powered or hydrogen-powered vehicles in the near future.

These automakers are perhaps just responding to the political climate in Europe. The United Kingdom just moved up its cutoff date for banning sales of new IC vehicles to 2035. The UK ban would even include hybrids! France and other countries are holding to a 2040 date for mandating all-electric fleets, while Norway has set a goal (not a mandate) to eliminate most IC engines (but not hybrids) by 2025. But amazingly California lawmakers actually killed a 2018 effort to ban IC engines by 2040.

    Eurasia Review

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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