Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.), perhaps unsatisfied with the misery of rolling blackouts to which ill-considered climate restrictions have subjected Californians, has ordered that no new gas-powered cars shall be sold in California beginning in the year 2035. What could possibly go wrong?
California “is phasing out the internal combustion engine,” the governor tweeted in announcing his sweeping executive order. “By 2035 every new car sold in CA will be an emission free vehicle. Cars shouldn’t give our kids asthma. Make wildfires worse. Melt glaciers. Or raise sea levels.”
NEW: We’re facing a climate crisis.
We need bold action.
CA is phasing out the internal combustion engine.⁰
By 2035 every new car sold in CA will be an emission free vehicle.
Cars shouldn’t give our kids asthma.
Make wildfires worse.⁰
Or raise sea levels.
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) September 23, 2020
The executive order
Newsom’s executive order requires that “sales of all new passenger vehicles” must be “zero-emission by 2035.” Through the order, Newsom directed the Air Resources Board to develop regulations to ensure that “all operations of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles shall be 100 percent zero emission by 2045 where feasible.”
The governor’s office claimed that the transportation sector is responsible for more than half of California’s carbon pollution, 80 percent of smog-forming pollution, and 95 percent of “toxic diesel emissions.”
“This is the most impactful step our state can take to fight climate change,” Newsom said in a statement. “For too many decades, we have allowed cars to pollute the air that our children and families breathe. Californians shouldn’t have to worry if our cars are giving our kids asthma. Our cars shouldn’t make wildfires worse – and create more days filled with smoky air. Cars shouldn’t melt glaciers or raise sea levels threatening our cherished beaches and coastlines.”
The executive order cites two laws (A.B. 398, originally passed in 2006 but updated in July 2017, and A.B. 2127, passed in September 2018) as justification for the ban. A.B. 2127 directed the State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission to assess California’s infrastructure to help the state reach the goal of having 5 million zero-emission vehicles on the road by 2030. A.B. 398 established the State Air Resources Board and authorized the board to set regulations.
The executive order would not get rid of all gas-powered cars in California by 2035. Owners would still keep their cars and be able to sell used cars, but dealerships would not be allowed to sell new cars that produce any emissions, whatsoever.
Is it wise to “phase out the internal combustion engine?”
Newsom tweeted that “Cars shouldn’t give our kids asthma. Make wildfires worse. Melt glaciers. Or raise sea levels.” The governor is correct — cars shouldn’t do this. Luckily, there is no concrete evidence that they are doing so at all!
There is no concrete evidence proving that those nefarious internal combustion engines cause asthma, worsen wildfires, melt glaciers, or raise sea levels, of course. Claims of a climate change “consensus” that “97 percent” of scientists agree human beings are warming the planet through carbon emissions are misleading and overblown. Climate alarmist predictions, which have sought to verify these claims, have proven wrong time and time again for 50 years.
As for the governor’s claim about asthma, Steve Milloy, a former Trump/Pence EPA transition team member and founder of JunkScience.com, insisted that “Nothing that comes out of a tailpipe causes or triggers asthma.” Child asthma is of unknown origin, much more likely triggered by pollen than by carbon dioxide from vehicles.
Milloy called Newsom’s order “as silly as it is unrealistic and pointless. Replacing gasoline-power cars with electric vehicles in California would require, among other things, global cobalt production to increase by 133% and global copper production to increase by 33%. Much other mineral and metal production would have to increase as well and many major and unaffordable changes to the entire power grid would need to be implemented. In return, the weather would remain the same.”
The wildfires that wreaked havoc on California this summer are tragic but they are nothing new — and the true cause of the devastation is poor forest management, not climate change. The son of a volunteer fireman, I grew up in bone-dry Colorado, doing wildland fire mitigation in my own backyard. My Eagle project focused on the hard work of maintaining the forest floor, cutting low branches and cleaning up the dry duff that serves as easy kindling for fires. Failing this, controlled burns are critical to preventing massive wildfires. Yet California has a long backlog when it comes to controlled burns, and governors have made the situation worse.
While there is no evidence cars are causing climate catastrophe in California, the state’s radical shift toward green energy has made life worse in the Golden State this summer.
In August, Newsom instituted rolling blackouts to deal with the fact that solar energy is less reliable when the sun goes down.
Frank Wolak, an economics professor and energy-markets expert at Stanford University, explained what happened. In 2001, a state electricity deregulation law resulted in frequent power shortages, sporadic blackouts, astronomical wholesale prices, and market manipulation. Wolak helped navigate the state back to normal. Yet in recent years, “California policy makers completely forgot the lessons from the crisis…in their rush to go green,” Wolak told The Wall Street Journal.
Regulations required California to rely on imported electricity on the spot market during peak periods on days where there is extreme energy demand. Back in 2001, the state’s energy grid got overworked at the peak demand period in the late afternoon. This year, the breaking point came when the sun started to set in the early evening.
“On many days, California’s grid operator now has to find 10,000 to 15,000 megawatts of replacement power—sometimes 25% to 50% of what it needs to keep the lights on—during a three-hour period as solar, and to a lesser degree, wind power, falls off,” the Journal reported.
“California often relies on imported power from other states to help fill its void. But when a historic heat wave gripped the Western U.S. this month, the state struggled to find a way to replace up to 8,000 megawatts of disappearing renewable energy each evening. It came up short on some days by as much as half that amount and had to call for rolling blackouts on Aug. 14 and 15.”
If Californians transition to electric cars, rolling blackouts won’t just mean no air conditioning or heating. They would also prevent Californians from driving to work or church or to visit family.
Newsom’s office claimed that “by the time the new rule goes into effect, zero-emission vehicles will almost certainly be cheaper and better than the traditional fossil fuel powered cars. The upfront cost of electric vehicles are projected to reach parity with conventional vehicles in just a matter of years, and the cost of owning the car – both in maintenance and how much it costs to power the car mile for mile – is far less than a fossil fuel burning vehicle.”
If so, why does California need to mandate the transition to electric cars by law? If electric cars really will be cheaper and cleaner, Californians will likely buy them — unless, of course, they cannot rely on the grid to charge their vehicles.
“This is a classic example of politicians seeking short-term political gain by imposing impossible requirements on future residents and politicians. California’s wind and solar power cannot keep its power grid functioning reliably even at current demand levels. Adding tremendous new strain to the grid by requiring electrification of California cars will bring the entire grid crashing down,” James Taylor, president at the Heartland Institute, said in response to Newsom’s order.
Taylor even argued that the transition to electric cars will create an “ecological catastrophe.”
“Newsom’s plan to add the massive amount of electricity to the grid that will be necessary to power California’s vehicles will require destroying thousands of square miles of California’s pristine lands and converting them to wind and solar infrastructure. That will be an environmental and ecological catastrophe,” he added.
“On the other hand, it will leave fewer forests for Newsom to mismanage and turn into overgrown fire hazards,” Taylor quipped. That burns.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.