I had to go to my well of topics and found this interesting article from Clean Technica from last summer, A Realistic US Transport Electrification Plan – The Challenges We Can’t Ignore. That is a catchy title because I am the woodchipper of grand ideas.
Norway’s EV etc. Policies
As Will Ferrell instructed us during last year’s Super Bowl, Norway crushes the United States in electric vehicle adoption. Clean Technica says 85% of new vehicle sales in Norway are electric and then complains about the lack of policy in the United States to support EVs. It makes a difference. For instance, Norway’s policies include:
- EVs are exempt from the value-added tax (VAT) and other taxes on car purchases and sales.
- Parking in public parking spaces is free.
- EVs can use most toll roads and several ferry connections free of charge.
- EVs are allowed to use bus and collective traffic lanes.
- The company car tax is 50 percent lower on EVs.
- The annual motor vehicle tax/road tax is also lower.
- Battery charging is free at publicly funded charging stations.
In Coon Valley, Wisconsin, where I used to live, there was an abundance of Norwegian surnames ending in ‘en’ – e.g., Hansen, Olsen, Andersen, and a watering hole called the Fiord Bar. Norway is a tiny country of fiords, which provide a fantastic source of zero-fuel, zero-emission electricity, and Norwegians are wise to take advantage of their topography. Behold, 97% of Norway’s electricity comes from renewable sources, the vast majority of which is from hydro.
Wise policy involves leveraging your resources in the country, state, or local region. Half of Norway’s exports in 2019 were from (gasp) fossil fuels, oil, and natural gas. By hook or crook, Norway subsidizes its zero-emission vehicle fleet with exported emissions. What say you, Will?
The same can and is happening here in the United States and Canada. Like Norway, cheap energy is finding its way to market, right Vladimir Putin? As of January 2022, Alberta’s tar sands were producing more goo than ever, and “Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is spending more than $12.5 billion to expand the Trans Mountain pipeline, which carries crude from the oil sands to Canada’s west coast.” Did I say, gasp! Say-it-ain’t-so Trudeau is sneaking sludge out of the country and exporting it to where? China? Meanwhile, the United States starts and stops pipelines by executive order while Bakken makes its way south by rail, frequently through our hometown of La Crosse.
How is this happening? Well, the ESG (environmental, social justice, and governance) crowd has driven the big companies like Exxon and Suncor out of the tar sands business, and rushing in to take their place are smaller private-equity-funded companies.
USA and China Policies
It’s hard to believe I wrote about the Keystone pipeline football TWELVE years ago. See how long it takes to build anything in this country? Seventy years ago, we moved towns out of the way and made a couple of river bypasses, a massive reservoir, and the Robert Moses dam north of Niagara Falls– all in just three years!. But then, jobs, livelihoods, and lives depended on the power it produced. This is not the case with EVs, but I digress.
The next time you hear or read anyone talking about the Chinese Communist Party (China) being ahead of us on this or that clean energy, tell them to put a cork in it because it’s cherry-picking. Coal is their dominant source of energy, followed by hydropower from their environmental disaster known as the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River: millions of tons of garbage, landslides, millions of displaced people, dead fish, and cancer villages from the project – pure as pristine snow.
Garbage Isles of the Yangzte River
Who dominates solar panel production? China. And who doesn’t? The United States.
Who dominates EV battery production? China. And who doesn’t? The United States.
Finally, in addition to outsourcing the vast majority of our pollution to be “clean” (I didn’t even get into wind turbines), the mining of materials for these technologies is dominated by despotic third-world countries and child labor.
I frequently get pushback on these topics, like we have plenty of these resources in the United States. Then why aren’t we using them, dude? Here’s why: cost, and out of sight, out of mind. If a cobalt rock falls on a child’s foot in Congo and no one is there to hear it, does the scream make a sound?
So, yeah, I return to Clean Technica’s lament for a clean and safe energy future, we need to:
- Develop products and services with clear market-clearing performance and benefits that ordinary people want at a price they can afford.
- Insource our supply chains and manufacturing. That means looking at lithium mines and tearing up natural beauties in our country to get to these materials.
We simply cannot ignore the facts and hand wave things away with ifs and buts. You can shoot the messenger, but that doesn’t move the ball forward or advance the human condition.