By on May 20, 2020

Every time we think the United States’ fueling fracas had concluded, something new emerges to remind us that we’re utter morons. Despite the Trump administration finally wrapping up the fuel rollback of Obama-era emission standards on March 31st, Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) has sent another letter asking Environmental Protection Agency Inspector General Sean O’Donnell to look into the new rules.

Carper asked the inspector general last February to conduct an investigation into “potentially unlawful efforts and procedural problems” stemming from their implementation. His assertion is that the EPA was circumventing various procedural requirements and attempted to hide data that would have conflicted with some of the rollback’s claimed benefits.

Did it?

Truth be told, some of the metrics used to rationalize the rollback were suspect to us, as well. Safety claims seemed particularly overblown, but the administration likely felt it had to invoke some kind of scare tactic because that’s the only way to get things done.

Want to make EVs more appetizing or create a rigid framework for fueling regulations? Say that the environment is at death’s door and ignore the perils of battery production.

Want to get autonomous vehicles greenlit for public testing? Suggest that thousands will die every year the technology is not in play, even though it’s nowhere near ready.

Want to roll back hastily passed regulations? Say they’re at odds with market realities and cap it off by suggesting it might lead to less-safe automobiles using suspect reasoning.

Voila!

This tactic works great for closing down entire states, too. Heck, we just enjoyed almost years of evidence-free investigations into White House corruption claims and now have new probes suggesting it was the actually the previous administration that was out of line with its activities ⁠— with a familiar deficit of available evidence. Is there anything to it? We can’t say and doubt the truth will have much influence on how it’s handled. All we can do is wish you luck in your efforts to find straight answers and offer aid wherever we can.

With all the above in mind, Carper’s questioning seems mostly valid. There were plenty of criticisms thrown at the EPA’s handling of the rollback and it hardly seemed involved in the early drafts. But there were also a number of groups getting in its way, and most of it came down a partisan standoff. Half the country seems convinced pursuing ever-higher efficiency standards will effectively force automakers into building cars totally unfit for the North American market just to appease regulations. The opposition believes environmentalism takes precedence over sales and that any step backwards is unacceptable.

You probably fall into one of these categories or, like me, are a disgusting fence-sitting loser who’s trying to parse through self-serving rhetoric to find out what will actually work for the country. Sadly, there may be no middle ground when politics are involved ⁠— and they assuredly are in this case.

Donald Trump’s rollback of Obama-era vehicle emissions standards actually offered a fair bit of compromise in its final draft. Completed on March 31st, the new rules actually mandate an annual increase in efficiency of 1.5 percent through 2026. The original version simply froze the old standard at 2020 levels, yet there’s still plenty of criticism being thrown around.

Many do not like that the fuel rollback suspends California’s ability to set its own targets and feel more should be done to protect the environment. However, you’ll find just as many people critical of the Golden State for trying to strong-arm higher standards for the rest of the country and who feel the Obama administration’s fuel goals were wildly unrealistic. In fact, its own 2016 mid-term review, conducted by the EPA, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and California Air Resources Board (CARB), actually claimed those standards weren’t feasible in the long term.

It should also be said that assessment was made in an era where fuel prices were relatively high and passenger car volumes still outpaced pickups and SUVs by a wide margin.

That leaves this author wanting to embrace the rollback more than shun it, provided rules continue to incentivize automakers to keep pursuing better efficiency at a reasonable pace. Carper’s grievances, however, are less about what the rules will do to the air or economy and more about how this all came into being. Here are the bulleted issues from his letter to Inspector General O’Donnel:

[The Department of Transportation] was the sole author of most, if not all, of the draft final rule submitted in January to [the White House Office of Management and Budget]. After EPA reviewed the materials, EPA Acting Administrator Idsal was briefed on EPA career staff’s concerns with the draft final rule and was made aware that it was not an EPA-co-authored product.

Four hard copies of EPA’s concerns were sent to DOT on February 5, but EPA political officials apparently purposefully and potentially illegally withheld these documents from being placed into the rulemaking docket and made available to the public.

The concerns EPA sent to DOT on February 5 catalogued numerous errors and inaccuracies in the draft final rule, but DOT did not incorporate most of EPA’s feedback. In fact, EPA reviewed a second draft of the rule on March 25 and observed internally that the continued failure to correct many of these errors would leave the rule legally vulnerable.

After the final rule was signed, the Agencies made significant changes to it before it was published in the Federal Register, raising transparency and potential legal questions associated with what appears to be an unprecedented process used to alter the materials.

The Inspector General’s Office has confirmed it received the letter on Monday (which is available to read here, along with Carper’s earlier memo from February). In our eyes, the end goal seems to be proving the rollback was mishandled so it can be obliterated ⁠— cinching a surprise victory for those opposing it.

“These materials describe a fundamentally and legally flawed rule created by what may be the most procedurally problematic process my office has ever reviewed,” Carper stated in his letter.

Assuming some sort of legitimate malfeasance was going on, we’d like to know more about it, though we haven’t ruled this out as a political smokescreen or the opening action of a prolonged legal battle surrounding the rollback. Likewise, much of the criticism tossed at the rollback could be used against the Obama administration’s decision regarding the old rules. Both appeared to ignore facts in order to push ahead to the desired outcome. Naturally, both were chided by the opposing party for those very shortcomings.

[Image: Siripatv/Shutterstock]

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42 Comments on “Gas War: Senator Asks EPA Watchdog to Investigate New Fuel Efficiency Rules...”


  • avatar
    Vulpine

    ” In fact, its own 2016 mid-term review, conducted by the EPA, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and California Air Resources Board (CARB), actually claimed those standards weren’t feasible in the long term.”

    — Actually, they are perfectly feasible… If you start producing BEVs with over 100MPGe.

    • 0 avatar

      Make gas powered cars illegal already. It’s time, we cannot wait anymore.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        Who would have thought that a virus would help mitigate climate change.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          @Lou_BC: From something I saw earlier this evening, it may already be too late… unless we’re extremely lucky. It almost seems strange that the timing of this virus coincides so well with reports of major methane eruptions from beneath the arctic tundra permafrost.

          Even so, I think we need to think more about survival as a species because it’s not going to be easy to slow the warming now–especially when there are national leaders who refuse to believe that we are killing ourselves by polluting our air so. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of those “leaders” ended up victims of this virus; if not directly, then by being replaced by people who understand just how severe our problem has become.

      • 0 avatar
        Oberkanone

        This is the reason why CA exemption must be abolished immediately. There is no reasoning with environmental extremists.

      • 0 avatar
        SSJeep

        “Make gas powered cars illegal already”? Hahahahahaaaaa! Its always wonderful when the envirocrazies come out on a website dedicated to – cars! Of which over 99% are petroleum powered! Sure, lets make the main mode of transport and engine of the economy both in Canada and the US illegal – because someone says so! Im laughing in my seat! Grab a flight to China, sit down with president Xi, and tell him that he needs to make ICE motors illegal – because “we cannot wait anymore”! Oh man, I need to stop….

        No, the right way to reduce gasoline consumption is to have better hybrids that allow for extended battery-only range and ICE recharging to alleviate range anxiety. Think next generation Volt, i3 or something similar. We will never be able to economically mine enough lithium to turn over the worlds fleet of cars to BEV, so we have to compromise somewhere. Incentives do help. Increased range will help more than anything. If we can get to 6-8 hours of highway drive time at 70mph, Hybrid or BEV, I think we will have reached a turning point.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          @SSJeep: Never say ‘Never’, my friend. Someone will always manage to prove you wrong. Maybe not today, maybe not next year, but the ICEV has had its day in all but VERY specific usage. Gasoline will be replaced by electricity direct to a battery; Diesel will be replaced by Hydrogen Fuel Cells, very probably in all commercial transport. I may not see that day, but then, I might–as I hope to live at least another 20 years and would love to make it 35 years or longer to break that centenarian goal. You? Well, obviously it depends on your age. If you’re younger than me, you have a much better chance of seeing that day come to pass that you said would never happen–or you might see the human species go extinct as the world does what it must to rid itself of a parasite. I doubt there will be much of an in-between by that time.

          Oh, and Tesla has already achieved that 6-8 hours of highway drive time at 70mph.

        • 0 avatar
          RHD

          Can’t you recognize sarcasm without going ballistic?

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Are EVs the answer or do they just transfer the environmental problems to 3rd World countries mining rare earth elements and power plants generating electricity with fossil fuels? Transferring the problems with global warming is not going to make the air cleaner. Watch Planet of the Humans and you realize that solar and wind energy along with other green energy for the most part does not reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zk11vI-7czE.

    Using less and using energy more efficient will do more to reduce global warming. As for EVs the lack of infrastructure, the high cost of batteries and high overall purchase price of most EVs, charging times, the environmental damage from mining rare earth materials, and a host of other issues with making EVs. I have nothing against EVs but they are not as clean as they are made out to be.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      @jeffs: Rare earth mining is starting to open up in the US and doubt that it’s anything nearly as bad as oil drilling. Cobalt is being drastically reduced or eliminated from newer batteries. Battery cost is coming down and isn’t nearly as bad as it used to be. Infrastructure isn’t that bad. Plenty of SuperChargers around and CCS charger numbers are increasing. For many people, charging involves less time that fueling a car with gas. Many of us, including me, have a full tank whenever we get into the car and don’t have to worry about finding gas. With my new car, I’ll have 300+ miles range ready to go every time I get into it.

      As far as fossil fuel power goes, an EV is more efficient than an ICE so even with a fossil powered fuel source for electricity, you’re going to use less than with an ICE engine.

      I don’t buy the theory that green doesn’t reduce fossil fuel dependence. Most groups pushing that are people that want us to go back to the stone age in order to save the planet.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      @Jeff S: Nor are they as dirty as they are made out to be. Just because their “emissions” are moved to a power plant doesn’t mean the same amount of “emissions” are created. Whether coal or natural gas fired, power plants put out less pollution per kilowatt-hour than a gasoline engine, simply due to the fact that while gas has a high energy density, a gasoline engine only makes use of about 25% – 30% of it. The typical BEV uses nearly 90% of the energy fed into it, giving it no less than 3x the equivalent miles per gallon and for some models well over 4x the equivalent miles per gallon.

      Hybrid gas/electric cars are better than straight gasoline cars, but they still only add about 40% to the mpg, raising the hybridEV to roughly 50% efficiency on gasoline. Plug-in versions help again, but their short EV-only range still doesn’t bring their overall efficiency close to a BEV while those hybrids STILL emit more total pollutants than a BEV through the power plant.

      I do agree to some extent about what are called, “conflict elements.” At the moment, Cobalt is the single largest conflict element used in batteries and most of the brands out there require a significant amount of Cobalt in those batteries. On the other hand, some brands have already reduced their Cobalt requirement by up to 90%, using a tiny fraction of the amount those other brands need. One nice thing here is that they’re all looking at ways to reduce their dependence on Cobalt and I wouldn’t be surprised to discover that Cobalt is no longer used in some battery types within the next five years.

      Finally, you claim that renewable energy does not reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, while simply ignoring that those renewables ARE reducing that dependence. As more renewable generation comes on line, fossil-fuel generators are being taken off line. Old-school coal-fired plants are being completely shut down and many are being replaced by solar farms and wind farms. But this transition will take time as the design of these energy collection systems themselves become more efficient even as the current generation is installed at record-setting rates. China, today one of the dirtiest nations in the world, is installing wind and solar faster than any other. Period. Meanwhile, the US is actively going backwards as the current administration actively attempts to block the installation of new wind and solar arrays and promote fossil fuels instead.

      You are right about one thing, though. “Using less and using energy more efficient(ly) will do more to reduce global warming and one of the ways to use energy more efficiently is to literally STOP using fossil fuels for transportation. If cars and trucks (and railroads) can run on batteries or hydrogen fuel cells (with the hydrogen cracked from water, not hydrocarbons), megatons of emissions are eliminated. If aircraft–especially commercial air–can go HFC, then high-altititude emissions are almost completely eliminated… only water vapor getting added to the air (which is still a greenhouse gas, even if no longer toxic.) That one change does both, using less energy BY using it more efficiently. The price of batteries is coming down. The charging times ARE coming down. The environmental damage of mining lithium is essentially nonexistent (despite what some what you to believe.) And those rare-earth materials like Cobalt are growing less necessary in the manufacture of those batteries.

      Again, all of this will take time–precious time. We need to accelerate the adoption of all-electric vehicles and we need to use the most effective means available for each vehicle type. HFCs are not effective in personally-operated cars but they ARE effective in commercial transportation, road, rail and airborne. These all need to come online as quickly as possible because if we can eliminate the visible pollution from our emissions, that alone would be a huge step forward in slowing global climate change.

      • 0 avatar
        chuckrs

        vulpine

        ICE cars are 25-30% efficient – check
        BEVs are 90% efficient – wrong
        why? because power plants are 40% efficient so true BEV efficiency is under 36% (you need to account for some minimal transmission and charging inefficiencies, too)
        still not bad, but by your own admission, hybridEVs could hit 50%
        ICE car prime mover = ICE engine
        BEV car prime mover = power plant

        There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch – engineering thermodynamics

        Alternatives to the power plants as energy suppliers? Warren Buffet has made a lot of money from funding windmills but notes he can’t figure out a way to make money operating them. Not a recipe for long term success.
        OTOH, solar looks more and more promising to me. I wouldn’t mind a solar roof but Musk has found you need a better class of roofer than the current crews. And price is still breath-taking.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          @chuckrs: If you’re going to go well-to-wheel on BEVs, you had better go well-to-wheel on ICEVs, and you’re clearly not doing it. That 25% to 30% efficiency on gasoline is in the vehicle itself, NOT counting all the costs of drilling, pumping, shipping, refining, transporting and again pumping it into the fuel tank of your ICEV. Let’s keep things apples to apples, or rather, car-to-car in that comparison. Battery electric vehicles get nearly 90% efficiency from their “fuel”, which is electricity. The actual number is roughly 88%, depending on how far from the generating station may be from the charging station, with closer to the generators making it more efficient and farther away less efficient.

          By the way, those windmills that you say CAN’T make money? Try again. They cost almost nothing to operate once installed and believe me, 103+ GigaWatts at 12¢ per kilowatt adds up to a lot of money made by those windmills so far. It works out to over $12mm in nearly pure profit just on what windmills we currently have installed. Multiply that by the amount of kWh actually used by homes, businesses, factories, etc. and there’s plenty of money going into Warren Buffet’s coffers.

          You say there ain’t a free lunch? Well, once you’ve paid for those windmills or those solar farms, you simply don’t have to buy fuel for them. They are less labor intensive than any fossil-fuel generating plant and all you have to pay for is general maintenance such as cleaning the solar cells and lubricating the windmill’s bearings. The same is essentially true for nearly every form of renewable energy.

          In other words, it appears you are seriously misinformed.

          • 0 avatar
            chuckrs

            vulpine

            If you are going to do total economic cost of ownership and total environmental cost of ownership, that starts at resource extraction and ends at decommission, recycling and disposal. If you think there aren’t real economic and environmental costs for solar and wind, you need to open your eyes. Further, nothing lasts forever and has no maintenance requirements and costs. To think otherwise is to be hopelessly naive. Really, do you drive a car for a year and then project, based on that experience, no maintenance costs for the next 15-20?

            I like solar’s chances, but I’m a realist about on-going costs of operation. I’m a half hour drive from Babcock Ranch’s 150 MW solar installation in SW Florida(owned by Florida Power and Light and installed on donated land). We won’t know how successful it is for many years, but the benchmark is high operational availability and reliability for 40-50 years – that’s what traditional power plants do.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @chuckers: Ok, Chuckles, now go read my post again. You’re saying I said things I didn’t say and didn’t say things I did say. Apparently you just WANT to be antagonistic.

            You, sir, moved the goal posts, not me. Go read those posts again and respond accordingly. I will NOT respond to you again if you continue this antagonism.

  • avatar
    redapple

    BEV are bullshirt!!!!!
    Noted left green man Michael Moore has a new Documentary/movie. I m pretty sure he doesnt like republicans. Planet of the Humans. youtube.

    Want less gas consumed, cleaner air? Raise gas taxes. Car makers are making EXACTLY the cars people want. For they are the only ones that sell.

    It ll take 10-15 years to change over the fleet in peoples garages.

    Gas is cheaper now than the gas war days when it was 29 cents/gallon (adjusted for inflation)

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      Michael Moore is a noted moron. Like I’m going to listen to some 600lb man-pig telling me I should reduce consumption.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Michael Moore’s video was talking about what PEOPLE are doing, not what needs to be done. People, like yourself, don’t want change. Adding or increasing the gas taxes will have literally no effect on the average driver–they’ll continue driving and just pay more to do so, as they have with the ever-increasing price of cars. Did you know that today’s cars cost as much as a 2000 square foot house on an acre of property cost back in 1965? And people are paying that AND MORE for some of their vehicles! The price of houses has only inflated to 5x their 1965 value while the price of cars has jumped as much as 10x over the same period. Raising gas taxes will have NO effect on reducing fossil fuel use OR pollution.

      And no, car makers are NOT making exactly the cars people want; they’re making the cars that they want to sell and go out of their way to promote their more expensive models and make people want them. Yet, for all of that, one company hasn’t advertised their cars in the conventional manner and yet they sell those cars almost as fast as they can make them, while those other brands maintain anywhere from 3 months to 6 months of unsold inventory at the myriad of auto dealerships who ultimately have to discount those vehicles to finally sell them. How is this making EXACTLY the cars people want?

      I do agree with one point, though. It will take 10-15 years to change over the fleet in people’s driveways. The more BEVs available today, the sooner that changeover can occur. — Oh, and gas was 25¢ per gallon when I started driving. And even with inflation, it’s not cheaper today than it was then. Close, maybe; but not cheaper.

      • 0 avatar
        WheelMcCoy

        @msc – your comment made me laugh! Moore’s thesis was that as a society, humans consume too much and that corporations aim to grow at any and all costs. He was really indicting Wall St. but still, he needs to look in the mirror.

        @Vulpine – thanks for the clarifications and additions.

        I just wanted to add that Moore phoned it in for this video. He used footage from the 1990s to show failed (really retired) wind farms and solar farms. He also promoted the myth that mining for precious battery metals was just as bad or worse than drilling for oil. And he hid and neglected the 30 year improvement in tech.

  • avatar
    redapple

    Gas should be conserved.
    – it enriches people who hate us and want to hurt us.
    – it pollutes.
    – it is a finite resource.

    Cheap gas encourages waste.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    So a senator wants to bring up corruption?

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Not all senators are corrupt but there is one whole branch of them who are overtly corrupt and have been for fifty years, growing visibly more extreme by the decade.

  • avatar
    Oberkanone

    Revoke California exemption.
    One nation, one standard!

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Yeeeeaah, that sounds exactly like something one of the framers would say /sarc off

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      Clean air is a good thing. (Pretty damn great, actually.)
      If the emissions standard is low enough, terrific.

      Watch an episode of Chips on Amazon – there is a tenth of the traffic in the mid-’70’s than LA has now, and the pollution is awful.
      Today, there is still pollution in the greater LA area, but not as much as before, and with greatly increased traffic, congestion and population. Hmmm… how did THAT happen?!

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I am not against EVs but I will wait before I get one especially for better, cheaper, and longer range EVs. Solar and wind will not meet all our energy needs by a long shot. Where solar and wind works it should be used but there are many other sources that should be used such as methane gas from waste treatment plants and landfills, hydroelectric, thermal, and yes atomic but with proper safety. I don’t want to just rely on solar and wind especially where I live which has very little sunny days. We will be using fossil fuels for much of the foreseeable future. Natural gas for the most part is replacing coal and yes fracking has its issues but it is still cleaner and much better than coal. Michael Moore only produced the Planet of the Humans and did not develop it or narrate it. Before you judge the documentary you need to at least watch it and you will understand there is a downside to green energy. I am not against going green but it is more about idealism and less about practicality and reality.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      @Jeff S: Burning methane gas is still burning a hydrocarbon–a fossil fuel. Natural gas IS methane gas and while it is cleaner than coal, it still emits noxious fumes and particulates when it is burned. As far as fracking is concerned, while it may be “cleaner” to burn, it does far more harm to the environment due to the chemicals used to release it that are pumped into the ground–mostly toxic. Fracking simply needs to be stopped because it is literally poisoning the land. But honestly, that part of it is beside the point right now.

      You say solar and wind can’t replace fossil fuel generation where you live… yet even excess fossil fuel generation is sent thousands of miles away on the grid, so renewable energy can be sent to you from thousands of miles away just as easily. And according to charts I have looked at in the past, on high-voltage lines–I’m talking in the thousands of volts–the actual energy loss over a 1000-mile transmission line is a mere 7%. That voltage gets stepped up two times to travel over those lines and stepped down three times on delivery to your home–assuming you have US 115v wall power. If you have 220v power, it’s only stepped down twice and the energy loss is marginally less. The US has some ideal land available for installing massive solar farms, where plant and animal life is nearly nonexistent on dry salt lake beds (former seas, in other words.) Interestingly, these same beds serve as a source for our lithium, as do deep salt-water wells where the water is pumped up and poured into drying pools right out on that same desert land. The only emissions from such “mining” come from the machines and vehicles doing the work and THOSE could easily be electrically powered themselves on battery or grid power, generated by wind and/or sun right on location.

      My point is that going renewable is far more practical than you may believe and there are certainly those who don’t WANT you to believe it. They don’t want change because they’re invested in fossil fuels and eliminating fossil fuels means loss of profits in their investment. Of course, if they were to invest in renewables… I think you get the point.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @Vulpine–It is better to use methane than to flare it off which is the current practice at most landfills in that it is used to generate power and not wasted. As long as there are humans there will always be garbage and sewage and a byproduct is methane. As for transmitting solar and wind power over power lines there is not enough power generated from those sources to transmit. I guess we could always go back to living like the the Amish who do not use electricity and live very simple. As long as we have a modern society which is more dependent on electricity then we will always be using more energy. You cannot be green without sacrificing something and most people including the greenies do not want to sacrifice the conveniences of modern society which include smart phones, smart appliances, automobiles, and a host of other modern conveniences that most consider necessities. I doubt you or I will live long enough to see a World where we use little or no fossil fuel. I am willing to give some up of my electric convenience and even get down to 1 vehicle but how many who claim to be greenies are willing to give up anything? Much of the green movement has been taken over by corporate interests and it has become more about profits and less about protecting the environment. Its fashionable to drive a Tesla and many who own them are more interested in the status of owning and driving one than they are about the environment. If you really want to do something about climate change drive less, use less energy, keep what you have longer, and just consume much less. For someone like me it does not make economic sense to buy a Tesla when I put less than 3k miles a year on my vehicles. Making new vehicles requires a lot of energy and just extending the life of most vehicles is actually better for the environment. I doubt I use as much energy as most people and all except a 4 wheel drive Isuzu pickup my 2013 CRV and 2012 Buick LaCrosse E-Assist are not exactly gas hogs spewing out tons of hydrocarbons (all my vehicles are well maintained). Also buying new vehicles just to save on gas or to go all electric makes little if no economic sense unless you just have to have the latest newest vehicle to impress you friends and neighbors. Working at home and taking the bus when I go in the office is greener than buying a new vehicle every few years. I also have been recycling for almost 30 years. I would much rather do the little things to be less wasteful than being an environmental zealot that judges others and shoves a green initiative down people’s throats.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      @Jeff S: “As for transmitting solar and wind power over power lines there is not enough power generated from those sources to transmit.”
      — I’d like to know where you’re getting your information, because that statement is flat WRONG. https://www.irena.org/Statistics/View-Data-by-Topic/Capacity-and-Generation/Country-Rankings

      Take a close look at the chart:

      GEOTHERMAL;

      Japan: 525 MegaWatts installed;
      Iceland: 753 MW installed;
      Italy: 800 MW installed;
      Kenya: 823 MW installed;
      Mexico: 935.6 MW installed;
      New Zealand: 965 MW installed;
      Turkey: 1.5+ GW installed;
      Phillipines: 1.928+ GW installed;
      Indonesia: 2.13+ GW installed;
      USA: 2.555+ GW installed.

      Solar Photoelectric (Top 3):
      USA: 60.539+ GW installed;
      Japan: 61.840 GW installed;
      China: 205.072 GW installed.

      Wind (Top 3):
      Germany: 60.822 GW installed;
      USA: 103.584+ GW installed;
      China: 210.478+ GW installed.

      ALL Renewable Sources combined (Top 3):
      Brazil: 141.932 GW installed;
      USA: 283.656+ GW installed;
      China: 788.916+ GW installed.

      These are numbers as of last year and GigaWatts is certainly enough to transmit over the grid.

      I seriously believe you aren’t seeing all the truth on whatever sources you use to garner your information. Those numbers above are isolated to just their specific types of generation except for the “ALL”, which includes all forms of renewable energy only, including hydro, geo, marine (tidal and wave generators, for instance), bio fuels, methane from garbage, etc. Note again how China, despite starting from so far behind, now out-generates US renewables by almost 3x. GigaWatts of power–HUNDREDS of GigaWatts of power–from renewables. Renewables DO make sense but there are too many corporate entities that don’t WANT you to believe that.

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    Pretty wild assertion there that California “strong arms” any state into adopting its standards. California started regulating this stuff before the feds and had a whole system in place, and so their ability to continue doing so was grandfathered in when the feds followed suit. Other states are welcome to voluntarily adopt the higher California standard, but nobody makes them do it. Most of the heavily populated states HAVE adopted them, because the problems of pollution become more apparent when you live in a city. Isn’t that the point of federalism, to allow some adaptations for local conditions?

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    If you use solar and wind alone across the US then you will not generate enough electricity but if you combine solar and wind with geothermal, hydro, methane, and natural gas then it works. You cannot limit the entire nation to just solar and wind otherwise what would you do during the periods where there is little or no sun or wind? If battery technology becomes better then you could store the energy generated from solar and wind. Also you cannot just turn on an electric generated power plant just when you need it a power plant needs to be run continually. I believe you should use all energy sources and not limit the choices to just solar and wind. Combine all sources ensures that there is continuous power to be able to operate. Use resources wisely and efficiently.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      @Jeff S: The wind is always blowing, somewhere in the US. Just because it stops in one place doesn’t mean it has stopped in every place. There are even some places in the US where the wind blows all the time. So that argument is invalid.

      Solar, too, has its ability to generate full-time; yes, even at night. Photovoltaic isn’t the ONLY means of collecting solar energy in the US. There are multiple solar-thermal plants in operation, most in the California and Arizona deserts. So again, your argument is moot.

      Please stop trying to insist that switching over to renewables is impossible; NOTHING is impossible. I wouldn’t even be surprised to discover somebody working on Beamed Solar Energy, where it is collected in space and transmitted as microwave energy down to receivers on Earth. That’s really an old concept, created by a well-known scientist, educator and author, but the technology of which hasn’t been available until relatively recently. That would garner us direct solar energy 24 hours per day, winter and summer, with only marginal risk of down time if stations are orbited about 60° apart.

      And I don’t limit renewable energy to “just solar and wind”, it is you attempting to claim such. But we no longer NEED fossil fuels for transportation and that is one of the most critical emitters of pollutants into our atmosphere that we have.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        …and battery is storage is already in use around the world. Australia has had a lot of success with it. Batteries for utility storage don’t even need lithium ion technology. They don’t have to worry about weight or volume, so other technologies that might not work for an EV will work for utility storage. There is even “pumped storage” where water is pumped up to a holding pond at a higher altitude at night when demand is low, then during demand periods the water is released and turns generators.

  • avatar

    Those who argue that to generate electricity you need coal, gas or oil are wrong. You can have BEV and power stations and do not burn carbon in any form. There are so many ways to generate electricity starting with thermonuclear and fission reactors and sustainable sources of energy like our sun.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @Vulpine–Actually a Professor at the University of Texas proposed building a solar panel in outer space and beaming the light back to Earth. On a large scale that could work because the Sun’s rays are captured directly in Space with no interference from the Earth’s atmosphere. I thought by your earlier discussion you were limiting clean energy to solar and wind but if you are not then I agree. My only criticism of the clean energy initiatives is that there are no long term plans to get to renewable energy. Many think that in a few years that all energy will be renewable but it will take decades to get there. There needs to be plans with goals of 10, 20, and up to 50 years but in the meantime you need to use fossil fuels otherwise we have shortages of electricity. I have nothing against renewable energy but without planning it will not happen. Many are looking for quick and cheap fixes but it will be costly and will take time. I am against this but people should not be mislead to believe this is easy. Nuclear should be part of the plan as well. There are no shortages of sources of energy if you do not limit them. I don’t like the fact that some think cutting down trees and making them into wood chips to power electric plants is acceptable. I am not against renewable sources of energy but I do not want to stop using fossil fuel before we have other workable sources of energy that will actually replace fossil fuel without producing massive shortages in electrical power. Coal is being replaced by natural gas and eventually natural gas will be replace.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      @Jeff S: The individual for satellite collection and microwave beaming that I was talking about was Isaac Asimov. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Professor you’re talking about had read his works and seen the sense of the methodology. Asimov was fully aware of the risks with such a method, just as “reflecting” solar beams to Earth would have its issues. The good news is that our technology today could maintain the kind of accuracy of aiming that the method needs, as compared to a manned station that has to be constantly monitoring the beam to ensure it doesn’t drift off target.

      No, I don’t consider wind and solar as the only answers; I have emphasized many times that there is no ONE answer to the problem but there are several technologies that when combined can meet the need better than fossil fuels and reduce the pollution that is destroying our climate (There’s also no ONE pollutant causing the problem–CO2 is only an indicator and partial factor in the problem.) I would like to point out that part of the US has experienced unusually cool weather this month, at least partially due to the massive reduction in pollutants globally due to this coronavirus. This isn’t to say that the problem is solved–far from it. Rather, it is an indicator of how EFFECTIVE controls can help limit the damage and hopefully help restore our climate to pre-pollution conditions which would see our need for energy somewhat reduced as well.

      But one point you brought up needs to be looked at differently. You mention the need for 10-year, 20-year and up to 50-year planning and you suggest this should be at the governmental level. Considering our current government in the US, I have to strongly disagree. At the governmental level, almost nothing would be done and if given a chance, would probably legislate that any actions taken to reduce pollution should be outlawed. The planning needs to be done by the local and regional energy providers–the companies actually spending their money to generate the power. As I’ve pointed out before, renewable energy does not require mining or drilling for fuel because most of those renewables literally don’t NEED fuel. That’s a huge cost savings over the life of the power station. Wouldn’t you agree?

      Other systems such as methane from trash are essentially self-sustaining as well as the people pay to have their trash collected (where such is a municipal service) and would pay for the energy generated from the methane collected (which could be cracked with almost zero pollution into hydrogen to refuel Hydrogen Fuel cells.) Again, the planning needs to be on a more local basis to meet the local needs rather than governmentally controlled adding unnecessary cost to make such an operation either larger or smaller than needed. The community is going to have a better feel for their 10, 20 and 50-year needs than a national government that does everything through committees.

      It’s time that we, as individuals, communities and a society take control of our lives. We hear nothing but lies and complaints from political parties about their opposites and as a result almost nothing POSITIVE gets done. Tesla is showing us how one company can disrupt an industry. California has showed us how one state can disrupt a nation. We are a federation of states making up this nation, yet it seems everyone wants the nation to be the overarching control and yet complain about too much control. If you want change, start making it on a local basis. As long as what your community does is not un-constitutional or illegal under Federal law, you can do pretty much anything you want to fix the problem. Talk to your energy supplier and ask THEM what their future plans are for energy and ask they why they aren’t considering more efficient and less polluting alternatives that can actually make them money without government handouts.

  • avatar

    To generate electricity you do not need coal, gas or oil. You can have power stations and do not burn carbon in any form. There are so many other ways to generate electricity starting with thermonuclear and fission reactors and add to that sustainable sources of energy like sun which can be transformed to electricity using various methods like solar panels, wind turbines, hydro-power, heat generators.

    Burning something is a very primitive way to generate electricity, we can do much better.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @Vulpine–About the long range planning it would be better that it was done on a Federal level but then agree that it is probably more likely to happen on a State and Local level. Our current Federal Government is so politically divided that it cannot govern effectively. From the standpoint of expanding electrical grids and long range planning it would be better done by the Federal Government but that is not going to happen. Under our current Federal System we would not be able to pass something like the Federal Highway Act that was passed in 1956 under the Eisenhower Administration. Several years ago the former chairman of Royal Dutch Shell wrote a book about planning for a cleaner and more efficient energy future. In his book he said that having a plan with targets is the only way that the US will obtain the goal of cleaner energy. He said that it is essential to have 5, 10, 20, 30, 50, and even further otherwise nothing will ever happen. This is not to say that these goals cannot be adjusted or modified but without some type of target date with goals then it will either never happen or things will get so bad that it will become a major financial burden. We have to admit that clean energy is going to initially be costly but how much more will it cost if we keep delaying especially when analyzing health costs, quality of life, and etc. In the meantime we still need fossil fuel but we should have target dates as to when we phase out specific fossil fuels. I am not so much in favor of using fossil fuels forever as much as using them until we are able to have a viable plan to improve, develop, and use these alternate sources of energy.

    Kentucky has had a plan for several years to give tax credit to utilities and businesses that use methane gas (the Republicans have threatened to end this credit). As a result many of the large utilities such as Kentucky Utilities have set up smaller power generation at large landfills and the Toyota Plant in Georgetown, KY uses methane gas from a nearby landfill for much of their energy needs.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Yes I agree but in the meantime I still want my electricity even if its fossil fuel. There are plenty of sources of clean energy but there needs to be a plan.

  • avatar
    rhduff

    Honda. It’s all I’ve ever owned. It began in ’82 with my first car, a brand new Accord Hatchback 5 speed. I kept it for five years, then traded it for a brand new ’87 Prelude, a car I wish I still had. Seven years later, I traded it in for a brand new ’94 Prelude Si. I kept it for seven years until a woman in an Expedition turned left in front of me on red. She was cited, but my ‘Lude was a total loss. It was seven years old, perfect shape, and had <70K on the clock. I bought a 2001 Accord EX-L V6 Coupe. It was a nice car, but it was my first automatic and I never felt like I bonded with it. In 2013 I traded it for a brand new 4 cylinder Accord EX Coupe with a 6 speed manual. I like this car almost as much as I like my two Preludes. I really wish Honda would see fit to resurrect the Prelude and use the same formula as the previous gen 'Ludes.

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