Commentary: Electric motor mandate fairy tales

Electric vehicle batteries, on the other hand, require large amounts of expensive lithium. The 2030 mandate will more than double the worldwide demand for lithium.


(Townhall) — Once upon a time, the feeble King issued a Royal Decree. “Hear ye, hear ye, within the decade, half of all vehicles sold in the kingdom will be electric!” Woke auto executives and timid leaders in the energy industry (who should know better) mostly nodded in approval or remained conspicuously silent. Only Toyota grumbled a bit, for which they were properly chastised and had their motives questioned by the courtyard media jesters.

So it is and so it shall be.

Dukes in California and Minnesota managed to beat the Presidential Palace to the punch. They issued decrees of their own for their fiefdoms. In doing so they ignored both the critics and the facts. His Highness Walz even claimed (without evidence) that 82 percent of his subjects supported this mandate. Recently rural peasants expressed strong displeasure with his decree at a gathering called Farm Fest.

The Duke snarled, “Let them eat cake!”

Having thus saved the planet, the Royals retreated to their palaces to celebrate. They feel good. Let’s all feel good. We can all live happily ever after.

Unfortunately, we don’t live in a fairy tale. We live in reality. Interesting how facts have a way of messing up the fairy tales spun by the left. Since the royals travel in government owned luxury carriages they probably haven’t noticed that many new car dealerships look more like stadium parking lots when the team is on a road trip. Nearly empty. All due to a shortage of computer chips.

Chips are made mostly out of sand, abundant and cheap. Electric vehicle batteries, on the other hand, require large amounts of expensive lithium. The 2030 mandate will more than double the worldwide demand for lithium. These cars also need what are known as rare earth minerals for magnets and motor parts. Due largely to mining and processing regulations, rare earths are much harder to come by. Especially here in the States.

Blocking pipelines is one thing. Getting a new mine site approved is another. PolyMet mining company has been trying to open a copper-nickel mine in Northern Minnesota for over a decade. Imagine getting a dirty lithium mine permitted. Oh, and the processing of most rare earths creates increased low level radiation in the tailings. Try sneaking those pucks past the radical environmental goalies.

Just last week the feeble King had to grovel and beg the Emirs of OPEC for a few more quarts to make up for his pipeline blockade.

The Chinese communists won’t need an OPEC. They’re doing a fantastic job of cornering the market for these critical materials all by themselves. According to Bloomberg, they already control over 80 percent of the world’s supply of lithium. We can be sure they will be willing to sell us some … for a price … that they determine. While the Chinese are at it, they might consider getting more of those the value-add jobs. They could build and export the batteries and the EV cars to us. Tesla has already imported over 30,000 China-built cars this year. Goodbye U.S. auto industry.

Then, of course, there is the little matter of securing enough electricity for these millions of new vehicles. California and Minnesota are both net importers of electricity. California has already experienced rolling brown outs. Solar and wind are clean and wonderful. But the last time we checked the sun goes down every night and the wind doesn’t necessarily blow when you require power the most. California will need a battery the size of Rhode Island. Without new hydrocarbon-fueled generation capacity, subjects in these states will soon find themselves on the short end of an expensive stick.

As we know well, none of these technicalities bother the Royals. These are not their problems. Taking long, slow bows for saving the planet consumes them. The serfs will just have to deal with it. If millions of jobs are lost and the treasuries must be emptied while passing huge debts on to the next generation to subsidize this folly, then so be it. Such a small price to pay to keep the dreamy fairy tale alive.

So it is. And so it shall be in feeble kingdom.


Gil Gutknecht

Gil Gutknecht is a former Republican congressman from Minnesota.