Joe Biden

Biden's '100% Clean Energy Economy' Will Require Huge Trade-Offs

Campaign promises about green energy often obscure real-world constraints.


One of the Biden administration's key pledges is to have a "100 percent clean energy economy" and reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. A study released by Princeton researchers last week analyzed several scenarios detailing the herculean efforts required to achieve that goal.

A prominent takeaway is the massive amount of land it would take to reimagine energy production and distribution nationally, including figuring out where to site a multitude of new solar arrays and wind turbines and constructing thousands of miles of transmission lines. "The current power grid took 150 years to build," one of the study researchers said. "Now, to get to net-zero emissions by 2050, we have to build that amount of transmission again in the next 15 years and then build that much more again in the 15 years after that. It's a huge amount of change."

The study underscores the environmental tradeoffs that are not always obvious in campaign promises about green energy. For one thing, achieving President-elect Joe Biden's vision would mean choosing between being beholden to China for most of the minerals necessary to make technologies like solar panels and rechargeable batteries or mining the raw materials ourselves. For another, huge photovoltaic installations and wind farms have direct impacts that, while different from those made by fossil fuel development, have their own environmental consequences. The public appetite for such infrastructure can change dramatically when the calculus changes from the abstract "renewables for the nation" to the tangible "wind turbines or solar farms in view of my backyard."

Policy makers should be upfront about these costs of transitioning from oil and gas to modern renewables, both for the country and individual American households.

Solar and wind energy may be renewable, but manufacturing a solar panel or wind turbine requires resources just as finite as those needed to operate a smokestack. "Minerals are the fundamental building blocks for any modern technology, but they don't just appear out of thin air," said Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R–Alaska), noting that renewables rely on extracting minerals from the earth. "Batteries don't work without lithium, graphite, cobalt and nickel; solar panels require silver gallium, indium, tellurium; and wind turbines are not just built from steel, but also aluminum, copper, and rare earth elements." She has introduced legislation aimed at boosting domestic mining, fearing reliance on a handful of nations (mainly China) for supply of such minerals. The Department of Defense has also recently awarded several grants and contracts aimed at securing mineral supplies at home.

Biden's climate plan describes how he wants to hold China accountable for its carbon emissions. But China dominates the global supply of minerals critical to making many electronics after years of buying up mining rights and stakes in Africa, South America, and elsewhere. It also owns most of the capacity and prowess to process them. For instance, the U.S. relies on China for 80 percent of rare earths—17 elements used in making electronics from smartphones to electricity grid storage infrastructure. Only one rare earths mine operates in the U.S., and what it extracts is sent to be processed in China, which slapped a 25 percent tariff on those imports during trade disputes with the Trump administration.

Trade is by definition mutually beneficial, but it's not surprising that politicians from both major parties do not want to be beholden to China for so much of these critical supply chains—especially after four years of Trump's tariff tussles.

The alternative probably includes ramping up American mining of critical minerals, which would require not only huge investment but also the traditional impacts of mining that any environmentalist worth her salt decries—scarred landscapes and the risk of contaminating water and soil, not to mention potentially harming fish and wildlife. Currently no lithium is mined from hardrock domestically, and there is only one active brining operation, which extracts the mineral from underground saltwater. An Australian company recently proposed to open the first U.S. lithium quarry in Nevada, which would also produce boron used to make wind turbines. But its plans have been stymied by an environmental litigation group's petition to list a rare plant, Tiehm's buckwheat, as an endangered species. The Sierra Club and others have voiced similar concerns in battling plans for lithium brining near Death Valley.

Likewise, solar installations and wind farms bring their own environmental impacts. One study by California researchers found that most utility-scale solar installations in the state have been sited in natural environments or undeveloped landscapes. Construction of the sprawling Ivanpah solar plant in the Mojave Desert required clearing habitat for a type of endangered tortoise. The installation's mirrored panels have also killed thousands of birds, an issue that could be a particularly big problem for migrating avians.

While estimates range widely, the Department of Energy notes that wind turbines may be responsible for up to 500,000 bird fatalities annually. Two energy companies have paid upward of $1 million in fines in recent years for killing dozens of golden eagles and hundreds of other migratory birds at Wyoming wind farms. (One recent study found that painting one of three rotor blades black reduced bird fatalities by 70 percent at a Norwegian wind plant in Smøla, which could at least somewhat reduce the problem.) Likewise, offshore wind development entails environmental reviews thanks to turbines' potential to harm fish, sea turtles, marine mammals, and other ocean life.

Many of these impacts stem from solar and wind having extensive footprints, which they need due to their low energy densities. Renewables can require roughly 1,000 times the space of fossil fuels. Building out enough wind and solar installations to power the country, not to mention the grid infrastructure to complement them, could conflict with another big Biden proposal: conserving 30 percent of U.S. land and waters by 2030. Moreover, much of that construction would presumably be subject to environmental reviews that delay or derail large-scale energy projects, green or not. The average review time for major projects undertaken by federal agencies now runs at about five years—longer than a presidential term.

Then there's perhaps the most difficult biological hurdle of all—the NIMBY ("not in my backyard") impulses of humans. Offshore wind is proving to be about as popular as offshore drilling with coastal residents up and down the Atlantic, as the 16 years and hundreds of millions of dollars flushed down the drain on the Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound helped to demonstrate. Similar stories have played out, on smaller scales, in local opposition to solar projects from upstate New York to Indiana to Virginia, where residents even launched a nonprofit to lobby against proposed solar installations in one town.

"These modeling studies are very good," an energy consultant told The New York Times of the recent Princeton analysis, "but they assume everything will go perfectly. They can show us how to get to net zero technologically, but not how to solve all those pesky real-world political and social challenges." Indeed, the pesky, real-world challenges are often the most intractable ones.

To its credit, the incoming administration appears set to embrace that huge, non-carbon emitting power source—nuclear—that California has shunned even as it suffers blackouts stemming partly from renewables unable to keep up with demand. Meanwhile, fossil fuels are on the downswing, at least as demonstrated by coal. Solar has probably already become the cheapest energy source ever. But in much the same way that banning fracking could counterintuitively slow the overall shift away from hydrocarbons, all energy sources come with environmental tradeoffs and extractive activities. Even when it comes to wind and solar, there is no free energy lunch.

NEXT: Milton Friedman in 'It's A Miracle'

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  1. Now you tell me…

    Yeah, no shit Biden’s energy plan is going to require huge tradeoffs. You will tradeoff the life of prosperity and freedom of movement that you previously had for….not much.

    These people want you to become a serf. Utterly beholden to them via UBI, unable to move away due to energy rationing, and having most of the methods of upward social mobility being denied to you. Except sucking up to the Party: that always works in places like Venezuela.

    Eventually, you will forget that it was ever any different.

    1. With current technology, 100% clean isn’t even possible. Would require them to put up massive nuclear plants, they should start, but that even requires mineral extraction. The left would never allow it.

      1. You are assuming we will be allowed to use the same amount of energy we currently enjoy. SleepyJoe will tell you when you can use your electricity or drive your car. It won’t be very often.

        1. The end goal of environmentalists is to take the world back to the stone age.

          1. Actually, a world without people (except for a very few noble caretakers).

            1. Not without people. Just not very many.

              Check this out.


              1. Now plot that against prosperity: More = more.

                1. That’s the entire point. Industrialization increases prosperity and lifespans. Take that away, which is the goal of environmentalists, and the world population will plummet by a mere seven billion lives. Small price to pay for saving the planet.

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              2. And yet we’re almost at Peak Human. Thing is, those charts are as disingenuous as claiming current Corona crisis is exponential rather than Bell curve shaped aka Farr’s Law. So humanity’s growth of course is unlike Corona’s Bell shaped curve, but neither is it exponential: in a few decades humanity’s growth will flatten out. The more we educate girls, the more they choose to postpone childbearing or stick to 1 or 2. This is a huge accomplishment but you won’t see it advertised in MSM.

                1. Or just tell all the girls how cool it is to be boys. Problem solved.

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                2. Does that mean we’ll start to be more inhuman?

          2. Then you shouldn’t have voted for Biden.

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        2. The lockdowns were a trial run. Some here were too stupid to realize it. They’ve been testing the lockdown message against climate change for a few months now. Biden has 5 cabinet members who proclaimed climate change their highest priority. Even some in the open, some here too dumb to realize it. Good work on pining for Biden Reason.

          1. The democrats are going to make it necessary to greatly reduce their numbers for America’s survival.

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        3. California is already doing this

        4. As usual, California is leading the way. Mandates just around the corner: all electric cars, and work from home 60% of the time. Just wait until all the cars are self driving and trips are rationed.

          1. Get the Snowpiercer ready.

        5. Yeah, but how is that going to work in real life?

          Vast parts of the US endure subfreezing temperatures often for weeks on end, including some of the US’s largest population centers. Natural gas is used in 48% of US homes, 52% in NY.

          Tell me what happens when you outlaw natural gas heating in homes, leaving only electricity the only way to heat homes, and you have a polar vortex come down and camp in the northeast and leaves 75 million people without enough power to heat their homes in life threatening cold temperatures. The grid won’t be able to support that load even if you could possibly produce that much juice.

          But I can tell you one thing the first time it happens it will be the worst, the next time it happens there will be a lot fewer people left to affect, including some politicians decorating lamp poles.

          1. People do not quietly starve or freeze to death just because some person in authority makes a rule that prohibits efficient or affordable sources of necessities. When people get cold, they will start cutting down trees and looking for sources of illicit coal. Hungry people are likely to become very troublesome indeed. The solutions they turn to will almost certainly be harder on the environment and community than the ones being banned.

            I suspect the real goal of this movement is not really environmental preservation, but rather disruption and chaos in the US and it’s allies. No country or group wants to face the US in military conflict. It is much safer and less costly to fund disruptive movements here.

            A careful look at the proposed policies show them to be completely unworkable with current technologies. There are lots of people who strongly believe in these ideas, but it seems like the strength of those beliefs is inversely proportional to the person’s actual understanding of the issues.

      2. Well sure, but, with any technology, 100% anything is impossible. Why should that be a consideration, rather than judging according to what is possible?

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  2. We commissioned many new natural gas combined cycle plants in the last two decades. They will be running for at least 30 more years. So no they won’t be banning fracking except maybe on federal lands and in obtuse New York State. Let the lefties screw up their states and leave us alone.

    1. Can we embargo energy “exports” to NY?

  3. SleepyJoe is the only person smart enough to guide our entire economy. We need to put all our eggs into SleepyJoe’s basket. This is going to be great!

    1. SleepyJoe couldn’t even run Hunter Biden’s life successfully.

    2. If scientists could just find a way to harness the lower of mean tweets.

        1. I think the NYT and the DNC did that already.

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    3. For some reason when I see people use that name my brain says “sloppy Joe”

      And then I want a sandwich.

      1. Ask DR Biden to make one.

        1. I hear Jill makes a heck of a tuna melt.

      2. ENB isn’t too busy.

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  5. “Policy makers should be upfront about these costs . . . ”

    Yeah, right. The last time a politician was upfront about costs was the day before Genesis.

    1. The device or the biblical chapter?

      1. the game console?

  6. “One of the Biden administration’s key pledges is to have a “100 percent clean energy economy” and reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.”

    I don’t see where Biden’s promise to eliminate 100% of carbon emissions from power production by 2035 is mentioned in this article, but given the 15 year time frame, that task may be even more herculean than the goal of reaching net zero emissions by 2010.

    Oh, and here’s the kicker. Biden promised to both eliminate all carbon emissions from power production by 2035–including natural gas fired plants–and he promised that he won’t ban fracking.

    Take a look at this from the EIA:

    Someone show me how Biden can replace 62.6% of U.S. power production in 15 years without banning fracking.

    And, yes, that task may be more herculean than eliminating what’s left of carbon emissions in the U.S. over the next 35 years after that.

    “Trade is by definition mutually beneficial, but it’s not surprising that politicians from both major parties do not want to be beholden to China for so much of these critical supply chains—especially after four years of Trump’s tariff tussles.”

    Just to be clear, the U.S. government financing or buying trillions of dollars worth of manufactured goods from China isn’t what I’m talking about when I’m talking about “trade”. When I’m talking about “trade”, I’m generally talking about consumers and companies buying goods from overseas.

    1. He doesn’t have to ban fracking, all he needs to do is impose heavy taxes on natural gas consumption.

      The power to tax being the power to destroy.

      1. We’re talking semantics then.

      2. Half of US houses have natural gas for heat.

        If he puts prohibitory taxes on natural gas then it’s that’s the last election the Democrats are going to win for decades. If the average winter heating bill goes from 200 to 220 there will be some grumbling, to 300 a lot of anger, to 400 then the GOP will gain 100 seats the next House election.

    2. Lockdowns are going to significantly hinder overturning the entire energy grid in 15 yrs.

    3. Sequestration – we are already building carbon dioxide pipelines where the producer of the CO2 will have to pay an oil company to dispose of the gas by injecting it under high pressure into existing oil fields to recover more oil (Enhanced Oil Recovery – EOR). Kinder Morgan is already doing this.

      Eventually the left will realize that their campaign to fight global warming was actually funded by the oil companies. But that will not matter.

      Electric vehicles and natural gas power generation has the advantage that it is easy to capture the CO2 centrally as opposed to individual vehicles burning LNG, hydrogen, ethanol, etc

  7. The same folks who had their panties in a wad (can we still say that?) over condemning land for the border wall – who I agreed with at the time – give zero shits about the several orders of magnitude larger amount of land that will need to be condemned for this.

    And all for something that won’t work.

  8. We can’t build enough batteries in a timely fashion to support this kind of green agenda.

    Warmers that don’t embrace nuclear power are not to be taken seriously.

    1. Maybe we can take all of that water California uses and make pumped storage.

    2. and batteries aren’t exactly good for the environment

    3. Dipshit California doesn’t even want hydropower, let alone nuclear.

    4. It’s not how many batteries they can build, it’s the fact that the technology doesn’t even currently exist to build batteries that can store enough power to run the grid for a large urban metropolitan region for an hour let alone 3 days.

  9. “Solar has probably already become the cheapest energy source ever.”

    If that were true, then no one would build anything else.

    1. It’s great until you want to turn on the lights at night.

      1. Or on cloudy days. Or winter. Or after 20 years when panel efficiency has dropped significantly.

    2. It isnt. It is aie by narrative where they exclude 6p% of the costs and count solar subsidies against cost.

      1. Yeah, it’s astounding the way solar went from non-competitive to undeniable bleeding edge with only marginal improvements in efficiency. At this point, in a decade, it will be undeniably 10X better than anything else. Of course, we’ll have more rolling blackouts than we did prior to unprecedented investment in solar but, you know, the math says it’s better.

        Pretty clearly just book cooking.

      2. No, I’m convinced they are right, so no need for any subsidies for solar any more.

  10. Too bad if you live in the fly over states or in any rural area. My wife has to make a 230 mile one-way trip too see a specialist every two months. Our god daughter is driven 260 miles each way weekly for chemotherapy at Stanford Medical.
    Impossible in an electric car without stopovers half way on each trip and a night layover in Palo Alto. Of course, the real people who count all live in the large metropolitan areas. Their food comes from somewhere else.

    1. Tesla’s have a 315+ mile range. As a stockholder, I encourage you to buy one.

      1. What’s the replacement cost on the batteries?

        1. By the time you need a new battery a new car will be cheaper.

          1. According to the interwebs. a Tesla 3 battery replacement runs between $5K and $7K. You’re getting a new car for that?

            1. Why did you ask?

              1. Apparently to let you prove that you are just pulling shit out of your ass.

                1. Failed.

            2. I expect the car to be a rusted out hulk and the battery still usable actually.

              That said they are subject to normal manufacturing defects, accident damage, and other unfortunate things that in rare cases might require replacement while the chassis/body is still serviceable

              People rag on the cost of a battery but forget that gas engines and transmissions also can ‘blow up’ in an expensive way
              How much is a new engine or transmission for most vehicles should major mechanical issues arise? Or the cost of repairing an engine/transmission that while not destroyed needs major work.
              Even some standard maintenance costs are quite high.

      2. The ‘official’ EPA range estimate may be 322 miles, but you are really looking at 200 to 275 miles of straight highway range (depending on the weather and terrain) in a Model 3.

        OP’s 520 mile round trip would likely require two 20-24 minute stops depending on how the supercharger stops line up.
        If a LVL 2 charger is available at the chemo place OP could realistically just need two 5 minute minute stops if the chargers lined up well.
        Sounds annoying until you remember that people have to eat and piss.

        Electric transport is the future and mandates are not only unnecessary, they are counterproductive as they lead to resistance.

      3. Actually I was looking into that because they seem like they are fun to drive. I don’t need to drive long distances. Maybe in a few years.

        1. You can’t believe how much fun it is to drive in sport mode.

      4. “Tesla’s have a 315+ mile range…”

        Suuuuure, they do….

        1. Oh yeah I forgot. The model s long range is now rated for 402 miles. My bad.

          1. Suuure thy do…

          2. BTW, note the claim here is specific: 402 miles! Not 401 or 403! Nope, 402!!!!
            Is that with the windshield wipers on? The radio?

            1. I didn’t make it up. That’s what Tesla says.

              1. 402 is the EPA rating based on a specific testing pattern which doesn’t actually mimic how anyone would ever use the full range of an EV.

                Real world, I don’t know what a new Model S can do, but I do know real world the 322 miles is 200 to 260 constant highway miles, depending on the outside temperature.

    2. Food “comes from” Trader Joe’s. Electricity comes from the wall. Water comes from the tap.

      And if they think any deeper, all these things (and more) come from protests and voting.

      1. Food comes from “those people” in flyover country. That’s what they really think.

        1. No, I am pretty sure metro people see no connection for all the goods they consume and fly-over country. And the hipster artisan farms on the edge of metro areas do not count as fly-over.

        2. I just heard of something called “vertical farming.” They can convert abandoned NYC “rascacielos” to vertical farms using cheap LED lighting.

          1. Then they can initiate “Project Soybean: NYC” to supply the nation.

      2. and packages magically appear at the door

    3. As if we’ll still have our own cars. Chuckle…

      1. Someone’s thinking ahead…

        Cars will still be available, but only electric, and self-driving, and “on demand”. If by “on demand” means “rationed by the government so you get one trip per week”.

        But the politicians will still have (hybrid) SUVs and armed security details, since their meetings with key policy planners/lobbyists at fancy restaurants will sometimes take them through the urban wastelands of crime and despair they have created.

        1. Don’t forget the private jets for global travel to environmental conferences. Davos, Hawaii, Aspen, Jackson Hole, Tahiti. No crowds for them!

  11. “The current power grid took 150 years to build,” one of the study researchers said. “Now, to get to net-zero emissions by 2050, we have to build that amount of transmission again in the next 15 years and then build that much more again in the 15 years after that. It’s a huge amount of change.”

    I keep trying to tell you – this is nonsense. It’s easy to get to net-zero emissions by 2050, in fact we could get to net-zero next year. Just have the EPA declare CO2 to be a prohibited pollutant and shut down all facilities that produce CO2. Get used to not having any electricity, get used to having no manufacturing, get used to having no cars, get used to having no food, get used to limiting your technology to sticks and rocks. North Korea has done it for years, Venezuela managed to accomplish it, Haiti and the Congo and Burundi and Sudan manage to do it, what makes you think we can’t get ‘er done if we put our mind to it? And stop eating the cows and pigs and chickens while you’re at it, too, dirt contains many of the vital nutrients you need to survive, and that’s all you’re going to get to eat.

    1. SleepyJoe will guide us through this transition period with his incredible intellect and personal energy.

    2. All that will not matter, since we will not be allowed to exhale.

    3. I don’t think we actually need a 100% shutdown. If we just command that all lawyers, liberals, and socialists stop exhaling CO2, that ought to do it.
      After all, it would be an EPA violation to eliminate all tree food.

    4. dirt does have a lot of minerals. vitamins and calories, not so much.

  12. For one thing, achieving President-elect Joe Biden’s vision would mean choosing between being beholden to China

    I think we can stop there.

    1. That is not a choice; that is defined democratic party policy.

  13. “The current power grid took 150 years to build,”

    How long did it take to develop a vaccine 150 years ago? Technology changes.

    1. And how long has California taken to upgrade their grid?

      1. That’s CA’s choice.

        1. So, never?

    2. My thought exactly. Much of that grid moves power and does not discriminate where that power comes from. Electricity produced by a wind farm is the same electricity produced by a coal fired power plant.

      1. Uh, no. It’s not. The output from a fossil fueled or nuclear plant is cleaner (so to speak) than wind farms. Less distortion, stable frequency, not to mention the reliability component.

        That being said, once it’s moving through the grid, it’s all just “water rolling downhill”.

      2. Grids care mostly about one thing: balance. Power in must match power out, aka supply managed to meet demand. Or, the other way around.

        Got a way to ramp up wind farm production during demand spikes on a calm day?

        1. The “other way around” is the end game to all this. Load will be “managed” by some central authority (not necessarily the local utility) based on current energy availability, just like in third world countries without reliable service. Customers will be cut off as necessary by smart meters until the clouds clear, more wind blows, etc.

          1. The fact is that much of the new renewable plants (wind and solar) are being built by local utilities. These will operate in much the same ways as before with locals buying needed and selling surplus power.

        2. Same way we handle peak demand today. Peaking stations that are used for limited purposes and duration.

          The assumptions being thrown out are are not new and most if not all problems have been addressed earlier. What happen when a power plant goes off-line for maintenance, do all its customers go without power for a couple of weeks to a month. Of course not, the power is routed from other stations.

      3. Someone doesn’t understand load balance.

        1. Of all the ignorant leftists that comment here, M4E is one of them.

    3. Conversely, how long did a take to build a dam (or a large bridge, or a canal, or a hard rock mine) 100 years ago versus five years ago?

      1. Or a pipeline…

        1. We won’t be making any or those terrible things. We are going back to choo-choo trains.

          1. Diesels?

  14. It should be noted that the alternative to Biden’s Green New Deal is not “doing nothing”.

    Tesla revolutionizing the auto industry by manufacturing electric vehicles that consumers want to buy is not “doing nothing”. Tesla is saying that their expanded procurement of constituent components of their batteries and efficiencies in their battery production means that they should have a sub $25,000 car on the market in less than three years.

    Meanwhile, the cost of renewables continues to drop as efficiencies increase. They’re now below the cost of both coal and natural gas over the course of their lifetimes, and that trend will continue for decades as efficiencies continue to increase over time.

    “Over the last decade, wind energy prices have fallen 70% and solar photovoltaics have fallen 89% on average, according to Lazard’s 2019 report. Utility-scale renewable energy prices are now significantly below those for coal and gas generation, and they’re less than half the cost of nuclear.”

    —-Forbes, January 21, 2020

    I repeat, the alternative to Biden’s Green New Deal is not “doing nothing”.

    I’d say it’s ironic if the government wants to eliminate natural gas just as renewables started beating natural gas on price anyway–but “ironic” generally means “unexpected”, and there isn’t anything unexpected about the government behaving like stupid shits.

    In fact, the worst thing that might happen from an environmental perspective is that the Biden administration puts in some regulatory mandates to force power companies to buy renewables, and so the renewable companies are no longer driven to compete on efficiency with natural gas. It’s one thing to be less expensive than natural gas in order to justify the construction of new plants with renewables. Replacing existing plants is another story. Just like natural gas prices had to drop significantly below coal before the power companies would pull the plug on the old coal plants and convert them to natural gas, renewables need to drop below the cost of operating natural gas before it makes sense for them to pull the plug on natural gas and replace it with renewables.

    And it should be noted that none of these changes will be sustainable if American voters won’t tolerate the higher cost of power. It doesn’t matter what Joe Biden says. If the costs he imposes on average Americans to heat their homes in the winter goes up higher than they’ll tolerate, they’ll vote for Republicans to undo all the regulations he put in place. The only sustainable solution is for market competition to drive the cost of renewables below that of natural gas.

    1. The simple solution is just ration energy use. SleepyJoe says simple is best.

      1. We must remain quiet that cheap energy lifted more out of poverty than anything else.

        1. And let’s not forget about the wars.

          Right up to and through the Obama administration, he was never so unpopular as he was when he shut drilling down during the Gulf oil spill.

          Low energy prices wouldn’t always make you popular as president, but high oil prices would definitely make you unpopular.

          Look at this graph charting Bush’s popularity vs. gasoline prices:

          Note that gasoline prices are graphed so that up is cheaper. Look how closely Bush’s approval rating tracks gas prices!

          If the left wants to see us go to war every time some vicious dictator or terrorist threatens world oil prices again, they should definitely ban fracking. And anyone who thinks Biden’s approval rating wouldn’t plummet if and when energy prices went through the roof because of his Green New Deal is nuts. Even IF IF IF people polled that they want Biden’s Green New Deal, that doesn’t mean they’ll stick with that support despite energy prices going through the roof.

    2. Ken, I remain skeptical about claimed costs of renewable electric generation, since some of what I read uses optimum economics from peak conditions, and few include storage costs. I want to see economics for electrical supply 24/7/365, and without relying on fossil fuel (or unicorn) back-up plants.

      1. I appreciate that there are storage costs associated with renewables, but extraction, transportation, and storage costs for natural gas aren’t zero either. And, my larger point is that the efficiencies for renewables will continue to increase over time so long as the renewables companies are forced to compete on cost with natural gas. If Biden takes natural gas off the market by fiat, that goes out the window.

        Biden’s Green New Deal treats the elimination of fossil fuels from the market as the solution to the problem, but that isn’t the solution if the problem of decreased standards of living because people are paying more for energy drives people to throw the Democrats out of power to get rid of Biden’s environmental agenda.

        Getting rid of fossil fuels is one consequence of the solution–not the solution itself. The solution is carbon free energy that is so inexpensive and useful that power companies and consumers gravitate to it and shun fossil fuels for being too expensive.

        If I had to bet on which energy source had the most potential to be the least expensive over time, I’d bet on the one where the energy doesn’t require labor to bring it out of the ground and transport it. Getting coal out of the ground and transporting it is more expensive than natural gas, but renewables have the potential to be that much more efficient than natural gas, as well.

        Biden’s plan would also seem to kill the economic incentive to buy electric cars. If it’s cost effective for people to charge their cars at home because their electricity is cheap because it’s supplied by natural gas, then killing natural gas will discourage people from buying electric cars. How does that help the environment? Doesn’t Biden want to replace liquid gasoline burning cars with electric ones?

        Anyway, those efficiencies will come as technology improves but also, as Tesla was saying, those efficiencies will come due to supply chain improvements and scale–assuming, that is, that Biden and his merry cohort of anti-market solution tools don’t destroy the goose that’s laying the golden eggs. The trend has been towards lower CO2 emissions in the US since 2007, despite a growing economy, and the markets that are driving those changes don’t need their help.

    3. Well, it’s the difference between central planning and individual planning. “So what’s your plan?” My plan is my own and yours should be, too.

    4. Ken, I would like to point out that solar and wind power are only viable commercially due to both heavy tax subsidies and the fact that they are indirectly subsidized by fossil generation because they do not have to generate and store power for when the sun goes down or the wind stops. There is a very big difference between a mixed grid and a solar/wind only grid.

      When properly accounted for, a wind/solar only grid approximately triples the cost per kwh because you need double the generation and storage for at least twelve hours.

      Given that wind and solar are only marginally cheaper than fossil electricity at the moment, despite their huge advantages, I have to disagree with your conclusion.

      1. I might argue that global oil prices are largely subsidized by U.S. spending on defense in Iraq, Israel, elsewhere in the Middle East, and elsewhere in the world.

        Your point regarding subsidies is understood and appreciated, however, and I oppose them across the board. That being said, if and when Tesla has a car for sale for less than $25,000, three years from now, that will be in spite of the subsidies of the past and not because of them.

        Renewable solutions have great potential to be less expensive than fossil fuels in the future, even if we aren’t there yet–with or without subsidies. I certainly don’t have any reason to root against Tesla or the storage industry for renewables, and if investors want to plow their money into these companies, I think that’s great . . . so long as I’m not forced to pay for it against my will.

        Biden seems to be all about making us shell out for this stuff using the coercive power of government, and I object to that on that basis alone. Apart from that, I hope the greentech companies are wildly successful–and, for a lot of them, like Tesla, they didn’t really need the subsidies in order to be successful. One of the best arguments against those subsidies is that they were unnecessary.

        1. Ken. The secondary issue is the bigger one. There is no storage big enough to last America through a single windless night. There is no currently available technology or combination of technologies on earth that can do so even with infinite money. Pumped storage has physical limitations about where it can be put. Essentially no industrial scale grid batteries exist.

    5. Tesla is saying that their expanded procurement of constituent components of their batteries and efficiencies in their battery production means that they should have a sub $25,000 car on the market in less than three years.

      Did we ever get the factory-new, mass produced $30K Model 3 we were promised 5 yrs. ago? I stopped paying attention after it was obvious that it was more of Musk’s “We met the goalby not meeting the goal.” handwaving.

      At this point, they better get to work or cold fusion and jetpacks are going to get here first.

  15. Joe Biden is gonna require a massive trade-off.

    Already even before him sitting on his illegitimate throne of lies he’s shown what America -and the world – what to expect from this petty, corrupted, mediocre hoodlum.

    1. How can he be sitting on a throne of lies, when he never speaks?

  16. Much of this is silly. What we are talking about is the normal progress of technology. I can just image this article in 1900s talking about the silly idea of getting oil out of the ground when it so easy to just harvest whales. The ocean is full of them.

    1. So when did the government experts mandate that we start getting oil out of the ground and stop harvesting whales? And did they discuss the alternatives of Goobleboxes and Flooblecranks?

    2. We’re not talking about the normal progress of technology. We’re talking about forcing technologies before they are ready, and shutting off our current technology such that it’s difficult to impossible to go back.

      1. There is no real normal progress of technology. Technology progresses until something forces changes and then technologies are pushed. Operation WARP speed for example. Technology to make the vaccines had been developed, studies of Corona viruses suggested the target protein. With the pandemic, business and government combine to force the development of a vaccine in a very short period.

    3. “…What we are talking about is the normal progress of technology…”

      Every time I think you really *can’t* be as stupid as you seem, you push that bar down a bit lower.

  17. I’m not worried. Empty promises are empty.

    1. Sarcamics kids and sponsor nod in agreement.

      To think I was gonna give you a day off and you decided to talk shit in the other thread first. Quite the shit poster you are.

      1. It was a funny joke. Take a sedative.

        1. I didn’t see the joke, but I’d be surprised if it was funny.

        2. Just saw it. Yeah, sorry sarc, not funny.

  18. How Hugo Chavez took Venezuela from being the richest country in South America to a train wreck in a few easy steps:
    1. Demonize the rich (but not oligarchs: just doctors, lawyers, business owners, high earning paycheck class)
    2. Raise the minimum wage to destroy small businesses
    3. Seize control of the energy industry (green new deal)
    4. Pack the courts
    5. Use Dominion voting technology to insure election win even when people have no power or food on the shelves.
    6. Die with $4 billion the bank and leave it to your daughter.

    1. 1a. Chase many knowledge workers, especially in energy, from the country.
      3a. Chase the remaining knowledge workers from the country.

      1. Oh, the California model.

  19. It isn’t just about minerals, but who is building the future of energy. None of the oil and gas majors have blinders on. They all know climate change is a problem, regardless of how wildly inaccurate the models have been. Fossil fuel also isn’t the future, as we will get to a point sooner or later where it becomes cheaper to create energy using other means than to use more expensive measures to obtain oil and gas. Banning these industries with overregulation creates a false narrative of original sin around energy production. Let things run their course as is. The market has already done more for the environment than government ever will.

    1. Politicians are shameless people who see a parade, run to the front, and pretend to have been leading it all along.

      In this case the parade is the cost of alternatives to fossil fuels getting closer to being competitive, so the politicians are rushing to create legislation that will allow them to claim all the credit.

      1. “…In this case the parade is the cost of alternatives to fossil fuels getting closer to being competitive,…”

        Yep, intermittent, low-power supplies are now almost as cheap as continuous high-power supplies.
        And a certain percentage of the population imagines that means they are interchangeable.
        Hint: They’re wrong.

        1. Hint: Closer doesn’t mean almost.

          1. I see the point went right over your head; no great surprise.

            1. Probably the liquor.

      2. It’s worse than that. They are generally the people who are holding the people back, THEN they turn around and pretend they led the parade.

        See: War on Drugs. Gay Marriage.

    2. You can’t build windmills and solar panels with electricity from windmills and solar panels. you need high energy output and fossil fuels is the choice if you won’t allow for atomic power.

  20. There is no such thing as free energy. The party of science refuses to listen to “The Science”

  21. Both this article and Biden are ignoring several very salient points.

    1: The sheer magnitude of generation necessary is huge. At least 150% more than our entire existing generation to balance out for night and times without wind.
    2: The amount of storage necessary to balance out for windless nights is insane. There are viable questions about whether it is even possible, much less feasible. The only real solutions are hydropower and nuclear, as batteries hit the hard limit of the amount of lithium on the planet. This project is so large that that is a limit we have to think about.
    3: There are many things that emit CO2 other than direct generation. Local generators, chemical production, and other items. These cannot be transitioned to solar power. What do we do with them? Just shut down all plastic, fertilizer, and every other manufacturing facility?

  22. Test

    1. Fail.

      1. I did that because several times I tried to post a particular comment and rather than posting the comment it closed the comment thread on me.

        1. The Reason site is among the buggiest on the web.

  23. The research into solid state wind turbines looks promising. No moving parts, no bird strikes, no flicker, no noise, less maintenance. It works like a speaker in reverse, apparently, vibration -> electricity.

    1. You got me interested so I did a bit of research. Looks like the ones that ionize the air have better efficiency. Pretty cool stuff. Now let’s see them it and make it economical.

      1. insert “scale” between “them” and “it”

        1. Insert a brain in your head skreech.

    2. tidal power is where it’s at. but environmentalists live on the coasts, and will no doubt ban that.

      1. There are other coasts, other countries. I suspect innovation for the move away from fossil fuels will come from elsewhere. These solid state windmills, for example, are being developed in Holland.

      2. Tidal power is useless. Always has been. Always will be. You just don’t have the height difference to make it worth while. The investment is far too much for far too little power. This is the same problem with small scale hydropower. To light more than a single light bulb, you need a substantial quantity of water falling a substantial distance. That’s something tidal power can never provide.

  24. The goals of the Green Raw Deal are to set humanity back at least 3 centuries, and to reduce the carrying capacity of the Earth.

  25. Aaaaaaaaaand none of this is going to happen.

    1. Eeeeeeeexactly.

    2. Yeah, but the could do a lot of damage to the US economy trying.

      1. Beat me to it.

    3. “Aaaaaaaaaand none of this is going to happen.”

      Correct, but we will still suffer as a result of the efforts of the watermelons.

    4. Indeed nothing will happen.

      Other than vast amounts of our money lining the pockets of favored Democrats.

      Which is the only real goal anyway.

      Not that Reason authors might ever point that out.

      1. That’s the kind of info that can greatly reduce your cocktail party invites if you report on it.

    5. That’s what they said about ObamaCare, and some of the worst parts of that are still in place.

  26. There only two paths to Biden’s stated clean energy goal.

    Nuclear up the wazoo.

    De-industrialize the US.

    1. Choose.
      But you must choose wisely.

    2. If we make all the WokeTards pull wagons like oxen, they will be too tired to endlessly spout their nonsense. That would go a long way in reducing the brown cloud over San Francisco, Seattle, and places like it.

  27. Travel and recreational restrictions on everyone except the political, oligarchical, and crony-corporate elite, climate-change profiteers, and their most recent favored subgroups.

    “We go skiing at Aspen for Christmas break, no crowds to deal with. The unenlightened are on lockdown, and Santa’s dead.”

  28. Encouraging the use of geothermal for HVAC and heating water might be useful at reducing energy use (but could add $40k to the cost of a house) and switching our existing nuclear plants over to LFTR seems like another good policy, but neither of these seems “sexy” enough to grab political attention so they don’t get talked about very often.

  29. This entire proposal is more unhinged and detached from reality than anything OrangeMan ever said or tweeted. Including anything regarding election fraud.

    It is a sick joke covering up the stench of graft.

    No significant amount of transmission lines will be built in the next fifteen years, the EIS process alone guarantees that.

  30. Reason got its preferred candidate.

    Aren’t you happy?

  31. Policy makers should be upfront about these costs of transitioning from oil and gas to modern renewables, both for the country and individual American households.

    They are upfront about it. They say that it will create “tens of millions of jobs”. Since those jobs don’t actually result in producing anything new, that means that a large fraction of our economy will be redirected to unproductive endeavors, and as a result we will become proportionately poorer. And this happens across all sectors: instead of researching cancer cures, people will be researching energy distribution; instead of building homes, people will be building transmission lines; etc.

  32. “…Policy makers should be upfront about these costs of transitioning from oil and gas to modern renewables, both for the country and individual American households…”

    You bet!
    “…Willie Brown, discussing a large cost overrun on the San Francisco Transbay Terminal megaproject in his San Francisco Chronicle column:
    News that the Transbay Terminal is something like $300 million over budget should not come as a shock to anyone. We always knew the initial estimate was way under the real cost. Just like we never had a real cost for the [San Francisco] Central Subway or the [San Francisco‐​Oakland] Bay Bridge or any other massive construction project. So get off it. In the world of civic projects, the first budget is really just a down payment. If people knew the real cost from the start, nothing would ever be approved. The idea is to get going. Start digging a hole and make it so big, there’s no alternative to coming up with the money to fill it in [emphasis added]…”

    1. Willie Brown is certainly acquainted with deep, dirty holes.

  33. So far environmentalists have chipped around the edges of the problem, pursuing indirect actions like mandating that a certain percentage of electricity be derived from ‘green’ sources by a certain date. In that scenario, the customer eventually gets a bigger electric bill, but doesn’t know why.
    Eventually though, to achieve what they want, these activists are going to have to smack the consumer in the face- a carbon for example- and then there’s going to be hell to pay. Look at the ‘yellow vest’ protest in France- they began after Macron hiked diesel fuel prices.
    I have my doubts that any of the Western Democracies will be able to really combat GW.

  34. It is cute that unreason still thinks Biden will be president.

    1. Agreed. A lot is going to happen between now and January 20, and Biden is a Fraud Puppet who will never be President.

  35. Gas prices are already going up…

  36. Wait what??????????????????????????
    Biden was going to follow the Constitution wasn’t he????

    Where in the Constitution is he delegated power to the environment?

  37. F-OFF Feds; You don’t own the USA’s Energy Resources.. You self-entitled utterly useless twits!!! Your there to ensure Individual Justice and Liberty for ALL OF US not to CLAIM ownership of everything we do and create….


  38. Two energy companies have paid upward of $1 million in fines in recent years for killing dozens of golden eagles and hundreds of other migratory birds at Wyoming wind farms.

    You saying their normal operation incurs a fine for accidental bird deaths? In what sense then is it a fine rather than a tax? Usually if there’s a fine, they eventually get to the persons responsible for repeated violations and jail them. If it’s not enough of a fine to stop their operation in that mode, isn’t it a tax according to Justice Roberts, with concurrence from the Supremes?

    1. Call it a penaltax.

  39. As long as diversity is involved in the selection of the leadership, Biden and the WokeTards will claim victory. I will be diversifying my home power system with a carbon burning, stand-by power, diesel generator, just like the sytems that every executive at PG&E is installing before the fun begins.

  40. Weird. Such moderation in the Reason tone after four and a half years shrieking that Trump was the end of all things. What’s the topic? Oh. Revolutionizing the entire economy and destroying the entire private sector for the environmental wackos? Ho-Hum.

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