By Levi Russell
The totalitarian anti-freedom-of-movement crusade waged by Democrats and weak Republicans continues. About a year ago, I wrote here on RealClearEnergy about the policies that were clearly designed to inhibit the freedom of movement of Americans. Since then, further policy developments have borne this out, and mainstream news and commentary sites have picked up the story. Worryingly, even more draconian policies have been put forward.
Whatever doubt may have existed in the past should, at this point, be put aside. Earlier this year, after months of claims that no one was coming for our gas stoves, New York State moved to ban gas stoves in new buildings. Evidence was revealed that the Biden administration had been looking at a federal ban on gas stoves, even as leftists are now claiming that it’s old news and would never happen. Pay attention to the dynamics here. At first, leftists deny that they will ban a key component of our lives; and then after they do it, they claim that we are political dinosaurs for wanting basic necessities and conveniences left alone.
The insanity doesn’t stop with your gas stove. New York City is looking to curb emissions from pizzerias, and John Kerry is looking at bans on fertilizer (similar to the deadly fiasco in Sri Lanka) and European-style reductions in cattle. Beef is evil! Cows are killing the planet! You don’t need to eat actual meat—you can just eat the stuff grown in a lab. It’s better for the animals that way. If it’s more expensive for hoi polloi, so be it.
Such is the attitude of the leftists who want to curb our freedoms. If it affects the poorest the most, who cares? There are bigger goals in mind. You can’t make an omelet if you don’t break a few eggs, after all. In the UK, the 15-minute city and low-traffic neighborhoods are explicit attempts to restrict movement. Here in the U.S., things are a little different. Rather than outright bans, governments are relying on a regulatory death of at-will travel for the average American.
Despite real concerns about the alleged environmental benefits of electric vehicles (EVs), it’s becoming clear that the cost of such transportation will become only more expensive. Scientific American recently wrote about “shortages” of lithium if the Left is successful in banning normal cars. Before said shortages would occur, the price of lithium would likely skyrocket. Despite being a comically wasteful use of lithium, the plans for mandates via EPA fleet regulations haven’t changed. Those whose religious faith lies in innovation have little to look forward to on this front, as solid-state batteries will require even more lithium than today’s range-anxiety-inducing, slow-charging batteries.
Even with gargantuan subsidies, these electric wonders aren’t profitable, and legacy automakers are seeing increases in sales among their conventionally powered vehicles. It’s not surprising, given the financial hurdles associated with owning and operating an EV, even if you’re wealthy enough to own a home with a garage and a 220-volt outlet. Another sign for headwinds for the vaunted EV transition is GM’s $900 million planned update for its factories that will build next-generation V8 engines for its trucks and SUVs.
The public is catching on to the totalitarian plan to end our freedom of movement and significantly increase the cost of food and other necessities. A new survey indicates that Americans are more wary of the supposed solutions to the allegedly impending climate apocalypse that involve more limited freedoms and lighter wallets.
Even the U.S. government’s own bureaucrats are doubtful of the success of the plans of federal and state politicians. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasts a mere 14% reduction in our use of hydrocarbons through 2050. The EIA also has an interesting projection for our fleet of vehicles from now until 2050. Currently, 28.9 million of the 261.6 million cars, pickup trucks, and SUVs in the U.S. are powered by hybrid powertrains, batteries, natural gas, or fuel cells. By 2050, the EIA projects that 78.4 million cars, pickup trucks, and SUVs will be powered by these alternative methods, while 215.7 million will still be powered by conventional gasoline- or diesel-powered engines.
Of course, these numbers could change. If the Left is successful in pricing average Americans out of their own at-will transportation, the percentage of vehicles powered by batteries and electric motors will be much higher. But that higher percentage of supposedly virtuous battery electric vehicles will materialize only if the number of new vehicles produced in the future radically declines. As we are already seeing in the U.S. and the UK, the average age of cars is climbing. Over the next few decades, people will hold on to their gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles much longer if federal and state governments continue to put their boots on the throat of auto manufacturers and, by extension, the average American. The U.S. will look a lot more like Havana, Cuba, where 1950s-era cars putt around, constantly being rebuilt for lack of the economic wherewithal to afford new cars that meet ever increasingly onerous regulations.
Even with these dour projections for the success of the Left’s plans, don’t rule out its willingness to oppress average Americans in pursuit of its own power. Recently, California banned all heavy trucks made before 2010. This ban makes moving freight more costly, and those costs are passed on to the rest of us. If they’re willing to ban 13-year-old trucks, they’re willing to ban your 13-year-old sedan or minivan. Why not? Their project is virtuous, after all. The freedoms of the common American can’t stand in the way of progress!
There’s reason to be hopeful. Even Ana Kasparian, a committed leftist commentator on The Young Turks, is waking up to the absurdity of these policies. My questions: How long will we continue to put up with it? Will we allow our state and federal politicians to continue to restrict our freedom of movement and empty our wallets? When will we have had enough and push against ESG and anti-energy policies? The answers to these questions should shape our votes in the 2024 election and beyond.