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California is now the first state to “dump dirty diesel” and require today’s rigs be replaced with “zero-emission trucks.” It’s a demand for far too much in return for nothing of value.

The rule, issued June 25 by the Air Resources Board, forces “manufacturers to transition from diesel trucks and vans to electric zero-emission trucks beginning in 2024.” By 2045, the same year California is to have fully converted all of its energy sources to renewables, the agency expects “every new truck sold in California will be zero-emission.”

Portrait of Kerry Jackson, a fellow with the Center for California Reform at the Pacific Research Institute

Opinion

Kerry Jackson

There it is again, that “zero-emission” designation. Unless these trucks are pedaled by a team of galley slaves transported across time from the Ottoman Empire’s fastest ships, how can that be possible? They can’t avoid leaving a carbon-emissions footprint. As the hard-left British Guardian has admitted, electric vehicles “are only as clean as their power supply.”

Fully Eliminating Fossil Fuels Unrealistic

In California, natural gas is the most common fuel source for generating electric power. Wind and solar provide only about a quarter of the electricity.

While their portion will surely increase in the coming decades, given California’s green obsession, fully eliminating fossil fuels is unrealistic. Manhattan Institute fellow Robert Bryce laid out the facts a couple of years ago in the Los Angeles Times, when he said the math “exposes the folly of the entire concept, particularly when it comes to land use.”

Solar and wind are also held back by storage limitations and their intermittent nature that requires fossil fuel backup. There’s plenty of hype about the imminent dominance of renewables, yet no one can predict with a date-certain when these inadequacies will be overcome. It might be 2040. Or it could be 2050. Or later.

Batteries Far from ‘Clean and Green’

A trucking company could of course build its own solar energy system to charge its fleet. It would be of limited use, however. With batteries typically dying at 300 miles to 500 miles, trucks would still have to recharge on the road. (The Hyliion tractor-trailer can reach 1,000 miles but only with a boost from a fossil-fuel powered onboard generator).

So, what do we get in return for all the dirt, costs, and inevitable aggravation of shifting to renewables and electric vehicles? We’re told we have to do it “for the climate.” Yet there’d be no climate benefit. California produces only about 1% of global greenhouse gases.

In-house systems would account for only a portion of the trucks in California anyway. There are as many as 70,000 operator-owned rigs in the state, and nearly 137,000 local trucking companies that have only a few trucks in their fleet. These are all small businesses that might not be able to afford to convert their homes or garages to solar. Before they even think about that, though, they would have to buy new electric trucks, which aren’t cheap – Tesla’s Class 8 models are expected to cost $150,000 to $180,000.

The misleading zero-emission label also covers up the dirt on electric vehicles. Their batteries, for instance, “are definitely not clean and not green,” Ronald Stein, ambassador for Energy & Infrastructure, tells PRI.

“The climate cult is fearful of sharing that all the mineral products and metals needed to make wind turbines, solar panels, and EV batteries are mined and processed in places like Baotou, Inner Mongolia, Bolivia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, mostly under Chinese control, under minimal to nonexistent labor, wage, environmental, reclamation, and worker health and safety regulations,” says Stein.

No True Climate Benefit

The “environmental and human consequences” of the increased mining needed to produce batteries seems of little concern to lawmakers and fussy activists. Is that because the environmental degradation occurs in regions far removed from the U.S.?

Also conveniently ignored in the rush to electric cars and trucks is the “coming tide of e-waste from old batteries.” How will they be disposed of and at what cost? While recycling is a possibility, “developing the infrastructure to collect and extract the metals out of spent batteries will require considerable effort,” according to Gizmodo.

So, what do we get in return for all the dirt, costs, and inevitable aggravation of shifting to renewables and electric vehicles? We’re told we have to do it “for the climate.” Yet there’d be no climate benefit. California produces only about 1% of global greenhouse gases. Even if that contribution, which is likely to be offset by increased emissions in China and India, were fully eliminated, there’d be no net effect on Earth’s temperature.

California lawmakers believe that where they lead, other states will follow. They might be right. But even if every blue state matches California, their gestures will be useless. Carbon emissions from developing nations working toward Western-style prosperity will continue upward. The only payoff is a grand virtue-signaling opportunity for policymakers.

Kerry Jackson is a fellow with the Center for California Reform at the Pacific Research Institute.

7 Responses

  1. Betty Merrill

    I wholeheartedly disagree. The push for renewables here would increase availability in developing nations which in turn would cause a “greening” if you will of those places as well. Those that care in a true sense are speaking up about waste recovery. The ripple effect will reach developing nations faster than you realize as that tech will only get better and cheaper. It is going to be hard on a lot of small businesses, and I sincerely hope our legislators include incentives for those businesses, but at some point in time we have to begin to do what’s right. Will it actually have an effect? I don’t know, but neither do you. What I do know is to do nothing will have zero effect on climate change. Is it going to hurt? Oh yes, it will hurt. It’s going to affect the cost of every single thing you buy in California. I’m not a wealthy California it’s really going to hurt. But I am a Californian and I know that where we lead others do follow. I know that renewable energy is our last and only hope to turn the tide and there is no planet B. I do not consider myself liberal. I do consider myself a reasonably well-educated, responsible adult capable of critical thought process. I’ve lived in California for 50 years and I’ve seen the change with my own eyes. It’s not a perfect solution, but are you offering a better one? instead of deep-frying the entire idea why don’t you spend your celebrity and influence to encourage and support those who are trying to create better, cheaper, “greener” tech? Unless you enjoy being the harbinger of doom rather than a cheerleader for change. If you prefer the former rather than the latter then I say good job, you achieved your objective.

    Reply
  2. Allen Schaeffer

    No one denies the opportunity that new fuels and technology may bring. Is not though the free marketplace the way for technologies to thrive- rather than by government mandate?

    California has the oldest fleet of commercial diesel trucks on the road today., due in large part to their Truck and Bus fleet rules that become effective in 2023– that have interrupted the normal marketplace for truck turnover,

    This means that more older higher emitting trucks are staying on the roads longer. Substantial clean air and climate benefits could accrue if the fleet turnover was accelerated today with newer trucks with near-zero emission technology available today. Is near-zero cleaner air and lower GHG now more or less important than zero emissions in 20 years?

    The analogy is investing: being all in for high risk investments means sacrificing steady reliable gains now for hope that your thing hits big and the windfall comes in- in the time you need it.

    Or not.

    Reply
  3. Scott Cain

    As a petroleum products distributor, and heavy duty truck operator, my business has been “public enemy number one” in this state for my 25+ year tenure. It’s ironic that we were deemed “essential” during Covid 19. Of course we are, we deliver “energy” to farms, truckers, and the public!The trucks I operate today are not “Dirty!” The diesel they run is much cleaner than in the past, and the new trucks we’re operating have particulate filters, and other technology, which further reduce their emissions. Trucking companies have already invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in new “cleaner” trucks, only to now be told that “zero emission” is the way of the near-future. Answer me this: If we’re having rolling “brown outs” today, how will it be possible to power the entire infrastructure, and transportation industry, with electricity?? Pure, unadulterated folly!!! Thanks for pointing this out…

    Reply
  4. EdBCN

    The important question is: how much does it cost? If Tesla can deliver its semi at the prices and ranges it claims, then they will be much, much cheaper than diesel trucks due to their huge savings in fuel and mantainance.

    Reply
  5. DON GAEDE, MD

    The author says, ” But even if every blue state matches California, their gestures will be useless. Carbon emissions from developing nations working toward Western-style prosperity will continue upward. The only payoff is a grand virtue-signaling opportunity for policymakers.”
    I disagree. Even if our country is the only one to transition away from fossil fuels (unlikely), the health benefits of cleaner air would greatly benefit our citizens. I argue the same goes for our state–getting rid of diesel emissions would go a long way toward cleaning up our state’s air, and prevent thousands of illness and deaths as well as missed days at school and work, all due to dirty air.
    According to House testimony by Drew Shindell, Distinguished Professor of Earth Sciences, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University, Durham, NC:
    “Our Duke/NASA research also allows us to differentiate between the health benefits the US will realize if the world acts together to keep warming below 2oC and those that the US will realize if we act alone. An apt analogy might be that climate change is like the coronavirus – we cannot close our borders and keep out this catastrophe. Air pollution is different, however. While concerted global action will reduce air pollution in the United States more than domestic action alone – and hence save more lives and produce more health benefits – the United States can realize a large proportion of the benefits from reducing air pollution even if it acts alone. We found that US action alone would bring us more than two-thirds of the health benefits of worldwide action over the next 15 years, with roughly half the total over the entire 50-year period analyzed. Hence while it is unquestionably true that tackling climate change requires the nations of the world to work together, it is also true that the bulk of the near-term benefits we stand to receive from taking action will come from our own policies.” https://oversight.house.gov/sites/democrats.oversight.house.gov/files/Testimony%20Shindell.pdf

    Reply
  6. Michawl Robert colburn

    complete leftist no science baloney. California soon will not even have a tax base. They won’t need an earthquake to push them into the ocean. California leftist scumbags are doing it themselves

    Reply

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