Sacramento is threatening to outlaw a freedom Californians have enjoyed for more than a century through a bill introduced by Democratic Assemblyman Phil Ting, of San Francisco. If it’s passed and signed, new gasoline-powered cars will become the state’s new undocumented immigrants. Government will refuse to register them.
Should it become law, Assembly Bill 1745 would, beginning Jan. 1, 2040, “prohibit the department from accepting an application for original registration of a motor vehicle unless the vehicle is a zero-emissions vehicle.” Commercial vehicles weighing 10,001 pounds or more when fully loaded are exempt as are vehicles brought in from other states.
While the San Francisco Democrat insists a transition to electric vehicles is necessary to sharply cut greenhouse gas emissions, the argument has more smoke than fire. Speculation that man is overheating his planet due to Industrial Age atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations is far from settled science.
The latest research shows how the science continues to unfold. An academic study released just last week reported that the doomsday, worst-case scenario, the most extreme projection that global warming alarmists commonly cite, isn’t credible. The climate’s reaction to CO2 simply isn’t as intense as they claim. Lead researcher Peter Cox of Exeter University said both the low and high sensitivities had been all but ruled out.
The virtues of “zero-emissions” vehicles are overhyped, as well. There are few bona fide zero-emission vehicles in California or elsewhere. Their batteries aren’t charged by the dynamos of political rhetoric. Unless 100 percent of the state’s electric power is generated by sources that emit no greenhouse gases nor pollutants by 2040 — Sacramento’s goal is 2045 — a sizable portion of zero-emissions vehicles will be charged by electricity generated at power plants whose smokestacks vent the byproducts of fossil fuel combustion. Electric cars don’t have tailpipes, yet most still have a carbon footprint.
Also conveniently missing from the electric vehicle discussion is the environmental damage unleashed by their assembly. Even before their tires hit asphalt, they are belching emissions. Building a Tesla Model S P100D, for example, produces more than 12,000 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent, according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This includes emissions discharged in the mining and transportation of rare earths needed to produce electric cars’ hulking batteries.
Meanwhile, production emissions from a gasoline-guzzling BMW 750i — 17 mpg city, 25 highway — are only 8,190 kilograms of CO2 equivalent. Building a gasoline-powered subcompact Mitsubishi Mirage emits a mere 4,752 kilograms of CO2 equivalent.
Though the BMW’s use emissions are about twice as high as the Tesla’s, the Mirage’s are less than the electric car. The Mirage is also cleaner over its entire lifecycle, which includes emissions produced when an automobile is scrapped. If the electric-vehicle campaign were more about actually cutting emissions and less about virtue signaling and raw politics, wouldn’t Sacramento be pushing us into subcompacts instead of EVs?
Not that that is an acceptable alternative. A nation of ostensibly free people should not be saddled with a 21st century Trabant, the 20th century “peoples car” of the captive East German population.
Given our rich car culture that delights in cubic-inch displacement, and the hum and roar of combustion, it’s reasonable to believe that most Californians would not be terribly interested in EVs if it weren’t for the interventions of political nags. As Pacific Research Institute fellow Wayne Winegarden says in his upcoming electric vehicle study, without the taxpayer-funded subsidies, “a robust EV market will not develop.”
Winegarden’s research proves his point.
“After Hong Kong eliminated its tax break for EVs in April 2017, registrations of new Tesla electric cars in Hong Kong fell from 2,939 to zero,” he says. “Similarly, after Georgia eliminated its $5,000 EV subsidy in 2015, EV sales fell 89 percent in two months.”
Even with as much as $42 billion in spent and promised federal subsidies, and billions more issued by the states, fewer than 352,000 EVs have been sold in the U.S., according to Winegarden. That’s less than one percent of the entire market.
Despite EVs’ thin popularity, policymakers have determined that those are the cars we have to buy. It’s a policy decision sure to create electric-car dissidents who will resent the day they lost their power to choose. The fact that the law is a wholly unnecessary stunt will only make it hurt more.