Take your foot off the gas

In 1991, a year after his controversial firing as North Carolina State University men’s basketball coach, Jim Valvano published a book titled They gave me a contract for life, and then declared me dead. It’s a great address.

The convergence of energy and environmental news these past few weeks reminded me of the paradox of this book’s title. The outage, which the North American Electrical Reliability Corporation (NERC) previously warned about in the 2022 State of Reliability Report, affected several states on Christmas Eve. Days later, a December 29 White House announcement praised Price. Joe Biden aims “for 50 percent of all new passenger cars and light trucks sold in 2030 to be electric vehicles” and announced new and revised tax credits for people who buy electric vehicles (EVs). Then on Jan. 9, a Biden appointee to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) spoke publicly about possibly banning gas stoves, which are used by an estimated 40 percent of households nationwide.

So, half of the new cars and trucks that will be sold in the future will have to be electric? Roughly half of the households (not to mention many professional kitchens) in America will have to switch to electric stoves? We’re going to need to generate lots and lots of electricity to fill the void of all that energy produced by millions of gasoline engines and gas stoves.

If the environmental zealots in a Biden administration are going to find their way, then Something You will have to answer the call for such a huge increase in electricity demand. Do they have an answer to this challenge?

No, they declared natural gas as the bridge fuel for renewables, and then announced the halt of pipeline projects.

No new pipelines means no new supplies of ‘bridge fuel’

The “bridge fuel” concept of natural gas promotes it as a reliable primary load generator with much lower emissions than coal (reliable base load generator). From there, this view envisions natural gas serving as a temporary solution to lower emissions until some time in the future when renewable resources with zero emissions and battery storage will be able to reliably meet electricity demand, to the point where they can replace natural gas on a large scale. President Barack Obama talked about it in his 2014 State of the Union address, for example, and last year “Biden’s special envoy for climate” John Kerry spoke (with some caveats) to the US Chamber of Commerce. Some environmental extremists hate it on principle, of course, or suspect that even when renewables and storage are finally ready for the big time, utilities will choose instead to continue to favor low-cost, efficient electricity from natural gas.

The Natural Gas Bridge is noted in the NERC report: “Natural gas-fired generators are now essential, balancing resources for reliable integration of the growing fleet of variable renewables and can be expected to remain so.” Until completely new storage technologies are developed and widely deployed to provide balance(Emphasis added.) Furthermore, “As coal and nuclear units continue to be retired and reliance on natural gas generation continues to grow, the interdependence between the electricity and natural gas industries is becoming more apparent.”

In other words, the current demand Because electricity in this country depends more than ever on natural gas. NERC warns of increased risks of energy shortages as the “resource mix evolves” away from “flexible generation” such as natural gas and toward volatile weather-dependent sources such as solar power. and wind.

Note that this risk is increasing Before Increased demand for electricity to power cars, trucks, and buses, and possibly also stoves. However, the Biden administration appears oblivious to the risks. Biden’s day-one revocation of permits for the Keystone XL pipeline cleared the way, cementing his campaign promise to shut down pipeline infrastructure. By May of last year, the Biden administration and Congress had taken more than 100 separate measures making it difficult to produce oil and gas in America.

On March 24, 2022, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) proposed changing its policies regarding pipeline approvals, not relying on previous agreements and adding “negative impacts” (including things like “environmental interests” and “environmental sanitation communities”) that You can refuse a request for it. FERC also proposed a new greenhouse gas policy that would require FERC oversight of “reasonably foreseeable” greenhouse gas emissions for natural gas pipeline projects. However, these emissions can include future, construction and operation, and even upstream and downstream impacts.

These two changes would increase the uncertainty surrounding the viability of pipeline projects, which would at best increase their projected costs and at worst prevent the construction of new natural gas pipelines.

Federal efforts to delay and block pipeline projects are compounded by environmentalists filing expensive lawsuits and state regulators withholding or slow-tracking until projects are too costly to finish. The Institute for Energy Research described it as a “death in a thousand pieces” approach to stopping pipelines. “

Leaving people worse off as they stand their own way

However, by shutting down pipelines, federal supervisors are also standing in the way of their own goal of seeing electricity generation transition to emissions-free resources without serious power disruptions. (Of course, they could simply defend the only essential zero-emissions source out there, which also happens to be the most efficient and reliable generation resource: nuclear power. Whether it doesn’t exist is a huge puzzle.)

We must not say that removing government from common consumer choices makes them worse off, as consumers as well as manufacturers and sellers. The impulse to deny people gas stoves and conventional cars and trucks is fueled by the same environmental extremism that opposes gas-powered electricity. It betrays an impatience with people making choices that best meet their own needs, and an inability to wait for entrepreneurs and innovators to solve the conundrum of reliable zero-emissions electricity generation (other than nuclear, for whatever reason).

Instead, regulators prefer to force changes through government that not only seriously harm people, but hinder their long-term goals.

John Sanders

John Sanders

John Sanders is an economist and director of the Center for Food, Energy and Life at the John Locke Foundation in Raleigh, North Carolina, where he also serves as research editor. The center focuses on protecting and expanding freedom in the vital areas of agriculture, energy, and the environment.

Follow him on Twitter @employee

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