The Deprivation Path Towards a Politically Correct (and Possibly Non-Existent) Fuel

A couple of weeks ago, President Obama week showed off an expensive electric car with a short driving range and a nice taxpayer subsidy. On a tangential but important issue, Slate’s Charles Lane is correctly not happy about the latter aspect of this vehicle.

… this little runabout is a rich man’s ride.
And that’s my problem with the Obama administration’s energy policy, or at least with his lavish subsidies for the Volt, Nissan’s all-electric Leaf (likely sticker price $33,000), and Tesla’s $100,000 all-electric Roadster: Where does the federal government get off spending the average person’s tax dollars to help better-off-than-average Americans buy expensive new cars?

As the president pushes what he hopes are the wheels of the future, his EPA is pressing ahead with the president’s dream to make electricity rates for that vehicle (and all electric powered necessities) “skyrocket” by imposing draconian new regulations – to possibly include Superfund financial assurance requirements on utilities?? – on the mining of the most cheap, plentiful (DOMESTIC) fuel available to generate electricity, coal.
Meanwhile, as Mario Loyola points out, highlighted by Justin, the Obama administration is not letting a crisis go to waste; it is creating “a hostile regulatory environment for oil extraction”, obviously to try to slow or halt domestic oil drilling.
Via these measures and others, including a rose-by-any-other-name version of cap and trade still quietly lurking on Capitol Hill, the president is attempting to use government power to test the theory, popular among greenies, that if we take fossil fuels out of the picture (in part, by artificially raising the price and making them too expensive to use) to a sufficient degree, another fuel supply, as abundant and economical as fossil fuels but non-polluting, will be invented.
But in point of fact, only one new significant energy source – nukuler – has been discovered since man began using fossil fuels in earnest. (And this source has been deemed unacceptable by those who demand that we abandon fossil fuels). Speaking for myself, if the price of fossil fuels is jacked, I’m in no position to discover that break-through alternate power source. As for polluting less via additional conservation measures, having installed a timer thermostat, twirly lightbulbs and downsized from eight to four cylinders, I had already made my life energy efficient to the max years ago – probably true for most of us. Accordingly, I would be able to do nothing more to dodge artificially high energy prices but would be pointlessly dispensing money that could go to retirement or, heaven forbid, household necessities.
So leave it to the scientists, is the logical suggestion. But deprivation advocates have left one very important factor out of their theory: the possibility – indeed, likelihood – that the Magical, Mystery Fuel may not be found. Keep in mind its required characteristics: potent yet with energy that is easily released, plentiful, widely available, comparatively inexpensive to extract, not polluting and “acceptable”; i.e., no nuke-type sources need apply. This is quite a tall order, even for our best-funded, most talented scientists.
Depriving people of a needed commodity does not insure that they will buckle down and invent a substitute. This approach becomes even more problematic when it is not at all clear that a substitute, politically correct or otherwise, is out there waiting to be discovered.

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Ken
Ken
11 years ago

The Tesla $100,000 all-electric Roadster is a luxury play toy that goes 0 to 60 in 3.7 seconds with top speed limited to 120 mph. The American technology involved in creating this all electric sports car is innovative by the mere fact the sports cars gets an unheard of 245 miles per approximately $8 electrical charge (battery warrantee for 100,000 miles or 10 years) and also be quick charged in 4 hours. It can be plugged into any electrical outlet because the charger is built into the car itself. There about 25 of the Tesla Roadsters on my state’s highways. Tesla will be mass producing a very slick looking 5 door passenger sedans which will sell for $40,000 (delivery starts in 2012) but will have the same technology as the Roadster. Its speed is 0 to 60 in 5.6 seconds electronically limited to 120 mph and the car will get an astounding of 300 miles per approximately $8 electrical charge (battery warrantee for 100,000 miles or 10 years) and also be quick charged in 4 hours. It can also be plugged into any electrical outlet because the charger is built into the car itself. United States of America technology 7 passenger (5 adults and 2 children in fold down jump seats) sedan getting 300 miles of driving at approximately $8 in electrical charge and zero emissions is not something to belittle. Yes it cost but once in mass production the cost should come down. Electric cars also use far less toxic oils and fluids than conventional combustion engine cars. My state currently is installing 500,000 electrical charging stations in preparation for electrical cars. The Electric Company is offering reduced rates to owner of electric cars charging them at night. GM and the Gas Company has formed a partnership to provide… Read more »

Tommy Cranston
Tommy Cranston
11 years ago

Green is the new Red.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
11 years ago

Ken,
Telsa is essentially bankrupt and is not expected to be around much longer. Only massive government subsidies can save it.
Electric cars have been around forever, Google Baker Electric. They have always been the answer to the question that no one was asking.
“use government power to test the theory, popular among greenies, that if we take fossil fuels out of the picture (in part, by artificially raising the price and making them too expensive to use)”
That is precisely what has been done Europe forever. Gas was $5.00 a gallon in Britain 30 years ago. What have they developed? Smaller, impractical cars. Anyone care to drive to Florida in a Fiat 500?

Ken
Ken
11 years ago

Warrington Faust,
On the contrary all reports I’ve been reading Tesla Motors is a viable company and the only American electric car company to develop electrical technology to rival the internal combustion engine car manufacturing with 300 mile single charge batteries and the concept of installing the battery charging mechanism within the car so it becomes universal to any electrical resource.
Over 1,000 Roadsters have been sold at $100,000 plus and as of Jul 6, 2009 over 1,000 pre-delivery orders with deposits for the model S sedan have occurred and Tesla is retrofitting an old GM/Toyota car manufacturing plant in CA. Toyota and other car manufactures are partnering with Tesla because Tesla hold the patent rights to the electrical engine plus battery designs and technology.
Yes as you say, electric cars have been around forever but not at 300 miles per charge with the performance of an internal combustion engine!
Chevy Volt 40 miles per charge and Nissan Leaf 100 miles per charge would love to get 300 miles per charge. Better Place is working with Renault but the best they can do with their electric cars is 100 miles per charge.
I would not dismiss Tesla Motors as rapidly as you are doing and I think you are underestimating the amount of private investment involved.
There are plenty of alternate fuel options in the works with some moving into the commercial production stages. This is happening in my state because we are the DOE test platform for the rest of the nation and it is fun watching all this stuff develop plus the interaction between different companies and listening to you nay sayers back on the mainland.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
11 years ago

Ken,
Wish I had more info. What I have comes from a quick glance at the NYT business section, must have been two weeks ago.
As I recall, there was no where near enough money to even consider putting the sedan in production.
I have been wrong before.

Sammy
Sammy
11 years ago

A short generation ago, only libs bought foreign cars.
Conservative’s motto was “Buy American”
Conservative’s motto today “Buy anything but American, it may have been made by a union worker

Ken
Ken
11 years ago

Warrington Faust,
A quick last check and Tesla has over 2,200 pre-delivery orders for the S model sedan with deposits. They also are going back to Henry Ford’s concept. One under chassis and motor and 5 different model bodies.
I’m heading out for your neck of the woods, hot humid New England (Boston) for a weekend wedding and I’ll return back home (6,000 miles) Monday where the trade winds are cooling and no humidity.

Chris
Chris
11 years ago

For fun, go rent “Who Killed the Electric Car?”, a lefty documentary about GM’s experiment in California several years ago. As I recall, most of the leases for those cars were granted to the “beautiful people”, rich liberals, movie actors, etc., not many just plain average California folks got to drive one, nevermind lease.

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