By Dr. Harold A. Black
Those on the progressive left who dominate this administration and the rest of us can utter the same words and mean completely different things. Consider “energy independence.” When America became a net exporter of oil during the Trump years, many said we were energy independent. Trump warned Germany that it was strategically vulnerable by being dependent upon Russian gas and Chinese coal. However, the Germans contended they were short-run dependent and moving toward long-run energy independence by the increasing utilization of “renewables” such as wind and solar. Of course, the current Russian invasion of Ukraine reminded us of the old saying that in the long-run we are all dead.
Here in America, the executive actions taken by Biden caused energy production to fall by a million barrels of oil a day, leading to the importation of Russian oil to make up the difference. The progressives said that this was temporary because Biden was moving the country to long-run energy independence. While most of us think of energy independence as producing enough energy from all sources – fossil, nuclear and renewables – to not be dependent upon foreigners, progressives define it differently. For them energy independence means using only renewables and not gas and oil. Thus, the left welcomes the large runup in gas prices. For them, making gas and oil more expensive means that the market will start to substitute renewables. Thus, Biden is resisting increasing domestic energy and instead he, the vice president, the secretaries of energy and transportation are urging Americans to buy electric vehicles. Of course, this is shear lunacy. First, the increase in energy prices impoverishes Americans and is particularly devastating to the poor – who are the constituents of the left. Electric vehicles are more costly than what we now drive and out of reach of the poor. They are useful mainly for commuting due to their limited range. The left must think that we all have garages with charging stations. Most urban drivers will find access to charging stations difficult. At best, it will take a couple of hours to even fast charge a vehicle. Moreover, chargers outside the home are expensive. Studies show that the use of fast chargers is almost as expensive as buying gasoline.
The widespread use of electric vehicles makes America more energy-dependent upon foreigners, not less. The components of lithium batteries are lithium, cobalt, nickel and manganese. China is a major supplier of lithium and manganese. Russia is a major supplier of nickel – so much so that the recent crisis has driven the price of nickel to $100,000 a ton resulting in a severe shortage of batteries. Congo is the major source of cobalt. Lithium mining is harmful to the environment. Cobalt mining conditions in the Congo are horrific. Thus, the green movement will make us dangerously dependent upon our enemies and damage the environment to boot. In fact, their research shows that particulates from electric vehicles are more harmful to the environment than carbon emissions.
I have never understood the left’s opposition to pipelines. One would think they would embrace them because pipelines transport oil with minimal environmental impact. One way or the other the oil is going to get to the refineries. If not by pipeline, then by train or truck with a greater impact on the environment. Moreover, America is producing the cleanest energy in the world including cleaner coal. It is apparent that the left just hates fossil fuels and doesn’t care about the impact on the poor, energy independence, or even the environment. That hatred simply makes America weaker. On the other hand, Russia, China, India and developing countries know that economic growth depends on cheap reliable energy. As such, they make sympathetic clucking noises to keep the West’s clean energy mob at bay while pursuing energy from fossil fuels and nuclear. Lastly, Russia and especially China also knows that the western push to renewables weakens their adversaries. So as a result both Russia and China provide financial support to green movements in Europe and the United States.