“Cleaner Car Choices”

  • November 24, 2023

The government of the state of New Jersey has just decreed that the people of New Jersey will not have the option to buy anything other than a battery powered device if they want a new car come 2035.

And it’s actually coming sooner than that. Restrictions on the sale of cars that aren’t battery powered devices go into effect come 2027, which is just barely three years from now.

New Jersey is not the only state government to have so (or similarly) decreed. Other states include California, Washington,Oregon, Massachusetts, Connecticut and – yes, Virginia – even Virginia.

Of course, this is being presented by those taking away the option to buy anything other than a battery-powered device as giving people more options.

Kind of like “safe and effective.”

By filing the landmark Advanced Clean Cars II rule [which will be published in December] New Jersey builds upon its standing as a national leader in climate action and its participation in the global Accelerating to Zero commitment,” says New Jersey’s governor, Phil Murphy. “The steps we take today to lower emissions will improve air quality and mitigate climate impacts for generations to come, all while increasing access to cleaner car choices.”

Italics added.

It is fascinating – to the sane mind – that whenever government imposes something negative it characterizes it as a positive.

“Choices” are being taken away, for obvious openers.

The upside-down assertion made by the government is that people don’t already have choices. Indeed, that they are being – somehow – denied them. The fact is that battery powered devices (like high-fuel-economy cars) are and have been available for those who prefer such choices. But that kind of choice is not the kind intended by Murphy, et al.

The “choice” is to be winnowed down to one choice. It’ll be the only one you’re allowed to make.

And not just because these government decrees forbid the offering-for-sale of other-than battery-powered devices by 2035 but also because all battery-powered devices are fundamentally the same. What is the difference between Device A – that has an electric battery and an electric motor – and Device B, that also has a battery and electric motor?

The shape? The color?

As opposed to an entirely different type of engine – and transmission – two of the things that make one make/model car something different from other cars. Drive a Miata and then drive a Prius and see whether you notice a difference.

The point is that people already have the choice to buy a device – if that is what they want. What is wanted – by people such as Phil Murphy – is to deny everyone else a different choice. This is gallingly framed as “increasing access,” as if such “access” were not already available.

And it’s not “cleaner,” either.

This latter is a merely temporary fatuity. It will be said for as long as it is convenient to say it, which will be just as long as it takes to deny people “access” to anything other than a battery-powered device. At which point, it will be discovered that – lo and behold – the manufacturing of battery powered devices creates “emissions,” too. And also the generation of  the very high voltage electricity needed to power them up in anything less than several days of waiting.

Both the manufacturing and the generating result in the production of carbon dioxide (which, to correct the governor, plays zero role in worsening air quality) as well as other “emissions” that are actually pollutants. The afterbirth resulting from lithium-leaching, for instance, is a toxic tsunami and almost literally in that millions of gallons of water are fouled in the process. Cobalt is also nasty stuff, if you genuinely care about “the environment,” to say nothing of the barefoot kids who claw the stuff out of mines, by hand, in the not-so-democratic Republic of Congo.

Battery-powered devices are also much heavier than cars and so cause tires – made of oil – to wear out faster and this latter results in particulate emissions much higher than those produced by cars that are not battery-powered devices.

And then there are the batteries, themselves. Each 800-1,000 pounds or more of used-up, caustic materials. What will become of millions of them? 

At which point EVs will no longer be regarded as ZEVs (Zero Emissions Vehicles), if by some Great Leap Forward in battery technology it becomes feasible to make EVs that the masses can afford to buy that do not cost them so much time. That Great Leap Forward is essentially the same as others that preceded it in that it is held out as a possibility that never materializes. Charlie Brown thinks that – maybe this time – Lucy won’t pull away the football at the last minute. 

But of course, she always does. She always will.

Because it’s what she does.

As this column has put forward on previous occasions, good enough is never enough – for government. Because if it were, government would have nothing to do. More finely, government would no longer have the excuse – to do more.

It is not enough, for instance, that most new cars are already partial zero emissions vehicles (PZEVS) and have been so for more than a decade, at least. “PZEV” – an official regulatory acronym coined by the EPA itself – means the vehicle produces almost no meaningfully harmful emissions. But the government, like Inspector Javert from Les Miserables, insists upon none – zero – which of course is not possible. At least, not without zero cars and zero driving.

Which will inevitably include the devices, too.

Because this is not about “lowering emissions” or “improving air quality”  – much less “increasing access to cleaner car choices.”

It is about eliminating your access to cars, period.

This will also include, by the way, “access” to the “choices” you’ve already made – as in the car you already have, if it’s not a battery powered device. If you believe that only new cars that aren’t devices will be verboten come 2035 or even sooner, you might be interested in this fantastic timeshare investment I know about . . .

. . .

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