Source: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) wanted regulatory reform, in part to reverse some of the Biden Administration's reversals of Trump-era reforms intended to expedite permits for fossil fuel projects.
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) needed Manchin’s vote in the 50-50 Senate to enact his latest spending extravaganza, the Inflation Reduction Act, which was primarily a massive climate and “green” energy subsidy arrangement. It gives Schumer allies some $370 billion in wind, solar, battery, and other funding, tax credits, and subsidies. In exchange, Schumer would offer a path for Manchin’s reform bill.
Manchin voted YEA and promptly got bushwhacked. Once he’d helped enact the IRA, he had zero leverage. Schumer, he discovered, had promised an opportunity, maybe a vote, but not actual support. House and Senate members told him, we weren’t part of your secret negotiations with Schumer; we didn’t shake hands on any deal; we don’t want easier permitting for drilling, pipelines, and LNG terminals that could help send US natural gas to Britain and Europe.
In the end, it’s probably a good thing Manchin’s bill went nowhere.
Yes, it provided some much-needed and long overdue reforms to curb the paralysis by analysis and endless litigation that have plagued fossil fuels, highways, airports, and countless other projects for decades.
But it also had Trojan horse provisions that would have unleashed hordes of newly subsidized wind, solar, and transmission marauders on much of the Lower 48 USA, to send pseudo-clean electricity to mostly Democrat cities and states that don’t want even “renewable” power generation in their backyards.
As the Wall Street Journal and energy analyst Robert Bryce observed, Manchin’s “reforms” would give the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and other bureaucrats the power to issue permits and force multiple states to acquiesce to new transmission lines and 200-foot-tall towers across their scenic, habitat, agricultural and even residential lands – if they decide (decree) that the lines are in the "national interest.” This could easily transform into federal powers of eminent domain, to take the needed acreage.
The feds could decree that thousands of miles of new transmission lines are in the “national interest” if, for instance, the lines “enhance the ability” of faraway wind and solar facilities to connect their intermittent, weather-dependent energy to an electric grid; or enable distant blue states to reach their renewable energy goals; or help achieve Biden Administration goals of stopping manmade climate change, “advancing environmental justice” and having “a net-zero economy” by 2050.
Populous states like New York could also work with FERC & Co. to have offshore wind turbines installed off less populated coasts, like Maine or North Carolina – and have the electricity delivered to the Empire State. New York’s peak summertime needs alone would require 2,500 monstrous 680-foot-tall 12-MW offshore turbines, operating 24/7 – when we’d be lucky if they generated electricity 40% of the year. (Imagine how many offshore ... or 6-MW onshore ... turbines we’d need to power the entire USA.)
Compounding the energy colonialism, the Manchin reform package would also give FERC authority to allocate and “socialize” transmission line costs, so that residents of states that don’t even get any of the electricity being sent along the newly imposed transmission lines could still have to help pay for them.
In short, the feds would be able to ride roughshod over states, local communities, and federalism.
Let me say it again: Wind and sunshine are free, clean, green, renewable, and sustainable. But harnessing this diffuse, unreliable, weather-dependent energy to power civilization is not.
The Green Lobby and its legislator and regulator friends think they can just pass laws and earmark subsidies, demanding energy transformations by 2050 – and it will just happen. The raw materials will just be there, perhaps with a little MAGIC: Materials Acquisition for Global Industrial Change. That is, just assume the necessary raw materials will also just be there.
Not one of these luminaries has given a moment’s thought, much less attempted to calculate, what this net-zero transition would require:
How many millions of wind turbines, billions of solar panels, billions of EV and backup batteries, millions of transformers, thousands of miles of transmission lines – sprawling across how many millions of acres of wildlife habitat, scenic and agricultural lands, and people’s once-placid backyards?
How many billions of tons of copper, steel, aluminum, nickel, cobalt, lithium, concrete, rare earth, and composite plastics? How many trillions of tons of ores and overburden? How many mines, across how many more acres – with how much fossil fuel energy to operate the enormous mining equipment, and how much toxic air and water pollution emitted in the process?
To cite just one example, just those 2,500 wind turbines for New York electricity (30,000 megawatts) would require nearly 110,000 tons of copper – which would require mining, crushing, processing, and refining 25 million tons of copper ore ... after removing some 40 million tons of overlying rock to reach the ore bodies. Multiply that times 50 states – and the entire world – plus transmission lines.
How many processing plants and factories would be needed? How much fossil fuel power to run those massive operations? How many thousands of square miles of toxic waste pits all over the world are under zero to minimal environmental standards, workplace safety standards, and child and slave labor rules?
How many dead birds, bats, and endangered and other species would be killed off all across the USA and world – from mineral extraction activities, wind turbine blades, solar panels blanketing thousands of square miles of wildlife habitats, and transmission lines impacting still more land?
Not only do the luminaries and activists ignore these issues and refuse to address them. They actively suppress, cancel, censor and de-platform the questions and discussions about them. They collude with Big Tech companies and news agencies, which too often seem too happy to assist.
The hard reality is, there are not, will not be, and cannot be, enough mines, metals, and minerals on the entire planet – to reach any “net-zero” US economy by 2050, much less a global “green” economy.
Here’s another issue: electric vehicles and backup lithium-ion battery modules can erupt spontaneously into chemical-fueled infernos that cannot be extinguished by conventional fire-fighting means. That raises an important analog to rules Alec Baldwin should have kept uppermost in mind last year. Treat every firearm as if it is loaded. Never point your muzzle at anything you are not prepared to destroy.
In the Biden-Newsom-Kerry energy arena: Treat every electric vehicle and backup battery system as if it is loaded and ready to ignite. Never park an EV, install a PowerWall or locate a backup power facility near anything you are not prepared to destroy.
That includes in your garage; near other vehicles; in parking garages under apartment and office buildings; in residential neighborhoods and highway tunnels; or on cargo ships like the Felicity Ace.
And yet we’re supposed to go along with Green Energy schemes – as we did with masks, school lockdowns, and vaccinations to stop Covid – because we have to destroy the planet to save it.
Because our government, media, and “public interest” groups insist that we “follow the science,” on which there can be no doubt (certainly none permitted) that we face a “manmade climate crisis” that threatens the very existence of humanity and “the only Earth we have.”
It’s time to short-circuit this electricity nightmare, by asking these questions, demanding answers, and ending the notion that governments can simply issue edicts and compel reality to change in response.
Paul Driessen is a senior policy advisor for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and the author of books and articles on energy, environmental, and human rights issues.