Gasoline Car Phase-Out Proposals Highlight Worst of Aggressive Climate Policies

Some of the boldest climate proposals of year didn’t come from the Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, believe it or not. This was a tall task given his trillion dollar Green New Deal-lite.

Rather, they appear to have come courtesy of state leaders like California Governor Gavin Newsom and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy.

In September, California Governor Gavin Newsom took to an outdoor podium to announce the Golden State will undertake, at the government’s behest, a gasoline-powered car ‘phase out’ by 2035 in hopes of reducing fossil fuel demand and abate climate change.

As the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board noted, “You may have heard that California has been struggling to keep the lights on as its anti-carbon mandates reduce the supply of base electric power. Gov. Gavin Newsom now wants to bring that same genius to transportation with an executive order banning the sale of gas-powered cars in the state by 2035.” Already, Californians can receive up to $12,000 in rebates and credits to purchase electric vehicles.

Notably, these tax credits already go to the financially fortunate. As the Congressional Research Service showed, almost 80% of electric vehicle tax credits and rebates are claimed by individually making more than $100,000 annually.

Less than a month later, but in less direct language, New Jersey joined the campaign to phase-out gasoline cars by 2035. E&E News reported that the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection proposed a policy parallel to Gov. Newsom’s 2035 phase-out in California. Though New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy didn’t offer a complete endorsement, he described the proposal as “a call-to-action for all of us in government and in New Jersey to roll up our sleeves and craft the next generation of climate-focused laws and policies.”

The contention that electric vehicles are zero-emissions is flawed. These cars require the production and manufacturing of many plastics, rubbers, metals, and more that require fossil fuels like oil and natural gas. Not to mention the intensive lithium mining procedures critical to batteries.

The question of zero-emission was pointed out in a poignant Wall Street Journal letter to the editor. The author asked: “I suppose “California Bans Sale of New Gas Cars by 2035” (Page One, Sept. 24) makes perfect sense to many folks. But nowhere do I see discussions about how the required electricity is going to be generated emissions free. Aren’t we simply unloading the auto pollution onto the generating infrastructure? It’s important to understand that the auto batteries don’t “make” electricity. They simply store electricity generated elsewhere.” It is important to keep in mind natural gas currently provides nearly 40 percent of our nation’s electricity needs, whereas renewables such as wind and solar provide less than 9 percent.

Thankfully, others have seen through the arguments of Governors Newsom and Murphy. A piece in RealClear Energy highlighted the facts around these far-fetched proposals:

  • “…some experts estimate the announcement could result in an increase in electricity demand in California of approximately 25 percent over the next 15 years as the Golden State grapples with a power crisis that continues to produce rolling blackouts.”
  • Further, internal combustion engines are, and continue to, gaining in efficiencies – “In fact, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, over the last 30 years, research and development propelled manufacturers to reduce internal combustion engine emissions of criteria pollutants by 99% to comply with EPA emissions standards. The U.S. Department of Energy also found that research and development have led to improvements in engine performance and efficiency.”
  • Importantly, “What better way to stifle this innovation than to propose a ban on the sale of gas-powered vehicles, especially when no clear alternative exists in the competitive marketplace? California’s answer to being only 7 percent of the way to achieving its 2030 electric-vehicle goal is to set an even more unrealistic standard by 2035 of 100 percent.”

It is disappointing that part of electric vehicles’ rise and utility in signaling an environmental-first mindset benefits from elected officials co-opting the movement to pursue political priors. Notably, current limits to electric vehicle affordability – Tesla savant Elon Musk himself has acknowledged this – have driven bad policy proposals across the country.

As discussed above, state governments and governors have bypassed sensibility and fairness to encourage the proliferation of electric vehicles. Electeds have proposed big government consumer behavior mandates in hopes of pushing consumers away from traditional cars to electric vehicles.

Not only do these proposals override personal consumer freedoms, they ignore the realities of what a large electric vehicle fleet needs including commonplace, cross-platform, and fast charging station networks.

Nonetheless, electeds are able to posture as zero-emission believers by misleadingly pointing to electric vehicles as the first step towards climate resolution.

The reality is that natural gas has afforded cleaner energy and plentiful electricity. It is also a key feedstock to many of the materials essential in automobile manufacturing. Proposals from the Governors of California and New Jersey to phase out gasoline cars by 2035 cannot square with reality of other environmental demands (particularly from Joe Biden) to eschew natural gas and fracking.

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