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Do politicians not understand where electricity comes from?

Hang onto your seats. Here’s the headline in The Hill:

Environmentalists should lead the charge against electric vehicles

Written by Locke Senior Fellow Dr. Don van der  Vaart, this piece goes straight after the progressive narrative that ‘green’ vehicles are key to saving our planet.

If you want to protect the environment and really care about human rights and the poor, stop investing in plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs). Ironically, it was Toyota’s president and CEO, Akio Toyoda, who raised the issue of the brutal realities of PEVs when he recently asked whether politicians understand where the electricity to power them actually comes from.

It’s a good question and, no, apparently the politicians don’t know. Neither do the pension fund and private equity managers who use environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) criteria to justify investing in “green” PEV technology. They should know better, since their industry has made ESG a very big deal.

The answer to Mr. Toyoda’s question is natural gas, which leads to an inconvenient fact. To the extent that manmade greenhouse gases (GHGs) play a role in global warming, the increase in natural gas combustion required to power PEVs will lead to more GHGs being spewed into the air.

You read it right: “the increase in natural gas combustion required to power PEVs will lead to more GHGs being spewed into the air.”

Uh oh.

And there’s a lot more where that came from, including human rights abuses and social costs. Electric vehicles are very bad news for the poor, for example.

Perverse incentives created by PEV tax credits mean the rich benefit from PEVs. It’s the poor who get stiffed. The poor will pay higher electricity costs thanks to “clean energy” mandates that increase electric bills. They’ll miss out on high-paying jobs, thanks to the failure of blue-state governors to approve natural gas pipelines. Even if the poor could afford a PEV, range and performance limitations turn a long commute from an affordable, outlying community into a battery-charging budget buster.

But there will be lots of ‘green’ auto jobs created, right? That’s what President Biden says. The Associated Press fact-checked President Biden’s jobs claim when he signed his ‘jobs day’ executive order last week.

BIDEN: “Today is ‘Climate Day’ at the White House, which means that today is ‘Jobs Day’ at the White House. … We see these workers building new buildings, installing 500,000 new electric vehicle charging stations across the country as we modernize our highway systems to adapt to the changes that have already taken place. … We’re going to harness the purchasing power of the federal government to buy clean, zero-emission vehicles that are made and sourced by union workers right here in America. … This will mean 1 million new jobs in the American automobile industry. One million.”

THE FACTS: There’s plenty of skepticism about this claim. At least some of those new auto-related jobs would come at the expense of current ones. Auto industry analysts don’t see how a net gain of 1 million jobs in that sector can come from Biden’s plan.

One million new jobs in the auto industry is a highly ambitious goal that would mean more than doubling the number of workers now employed in motor vehicle and parts manufacturing.

Many analysts and the United Auto Workers union, in fact, have warned that electric vehicle manufacturing probably will mean fewer net auto-making jobs.

You read it right: electric vehicle manufacturing probably will mean fewer net auto-making jobs.”

Uh oh again.

The progressive narrative has become a media narrative that electric vehicles are a solution to decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. Dr. van der Vaart sets the record straight, talking with Locke’s Mitch Kokai.

Donna Martinez / Senior Writer and Editor

Donna came to the John Locke Foundation in January 2003 after freelance writing for Carolina Journal and contributing to projects for the North Carolina Education Alliance. He...