An honest discussion on “green energy” should focus on its impact on the environment and the economy, national security, and morality.
All forms of energy cause environmental impacts, from its extraction, creation, use, and disposal. We deserve honest information to balance pros and cons and make judgments because it’s not simply “good vs. bad.” Government imposed policies slowing oil and gas production and forcing “green energy” have economic, national security, moral and environmental costs. Individuals and businesses should be free to make choices once armed with the facts.
First, there is no such thing as pure “green energy.” Politicians and activists tout “green energy” as if there’s no waste or negative impacts to the environment from electric cars, windmills or solar panels. Those politicians are either clueless, misleading us, or blindly advocating a religion-like ideology.
Constructing a solar panel or windmill requires natural gas components, such as plastics. Factories making “green energy” products require electricity — usually coming from gas or coal-fired plants. Delivering the parts and completed solar panels and windmills require gasoline, diesel fuel, and perhaps jet fuel.
There’s also no accounting for when it’s cloudy. When there’s little to no breeze, a windmill’s diesel-fueled engines kick-in. Storing their energy requires batteries that are inherently inefficient and made from minerals needing to be mined. (We’ll come back to that.) When those enormous, sky-scraper sized windmills wear out or tip over and break, they are “buried” in windmill graveyards. And, we would need to set aside land the size of cities to bring wind and solar to even 25 percent of American energy production — that’s before we talk about our nation’s inadequate electric-grids to transmit electricity.
Does that sound “green?”
Second, electric cars (“EVs”) are not “clean.”
When you take into account the EVs’ environmental impacts from parts, manufacturing, charging and disposing of the eventually-dead battery, the impacts are about the same as a traditional car albeit in different ways.
EVs require enormous mineral-rich 1,000-pound batteries — as compared to less than 400-pound traditional engines. Those minerals require mining and drilling with enormous multi-ton drills and earth-movers (many are larger than homes). Those mega-machines require thousands of gallons of diesel to operate, as does the processing of the millions of tons of earth and rock that must be crushed, washed and sifted to find the exact minerals needed. This is part of a process creating billions of gallons of waste water every day.
In the name of “saving the environment,” our government prohibits mining for minerals in areas in Minnesota, Alaska, the Rocky Mountains, or California. Thus, the minerals needed to construct batteries come from mines in China or Africa — and many African mines are owned or operated by Chinese businesses. Perhaps by choice, many seem unaware that in many cases the sifting for minerals is done by teenage or pre-teen children from Angola, Mozambique, Nigeria or South Africa.
To build EV batteries, companies use countless gallons of fuel, billions of gallons of wastewater, grueling child labor, and a growing dependence on Chinese-processed minerals, all for an American EV car market of 3 million cars, in a nation of over 278 million vehicles — a little over one percent. Plus, EVs have to be charged, with electricity most likely produced by a coal or gas-powered plant.
How much more fuel and water would be needed, how many more Chinese companies would we enrich, and how many more African children would have to mine to get America’s fleet up to even ten percent? And how would that small goal even be attained — even if it was desirable? How is that “green?”
Third, President Biden’s policies, speeches and intentionally slow permitting process efforts have intentionally reduced the growth of America’s oil and gas production. The results are higher energy prices and inflation, growing dependence on our enemies and harming the very environment that Biden claims to care about.
Worse yet, Biden’s actions have guaranteed lower production in the future by discouraging companies from exploring for new deposits of oil and gas and developing plans for new pipelines, necessary to safely and effectively transport energy into our homes and businesses.
Anyone who has lived in the real world knows that reducing the supply of something drives up the cost. Americans have paid the price — literally. Gasoline, diesel fuel, home heating oil, natural gas, propane, and fertilizer have all gone up and caused inflation. (Many politicians have stated they want higher energy prices to discourage use, yet still decry the price hikes when they happen.) Americans have sacrificed, started buying differently or have loaded-up our credit cards to deal with higher costs.
Since American production is down, where does the rest of our oil come from? Our strategic petroleum reserve (“SPR”) and Russia, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia. These nations are not exactly known for their stewardship of the environment. So, we’re paying more, becoming more dependent on our enemies and making the environment worse. Plus, Biden has drained our “SPR,” putting us at risk from a natural disaster, terrorism or war.
Politicians and “environmental-activists” fighting to end or greatly reduce American production of oil and gas are, again, either clueless, misleading us, or blindly advocating a religion-like ideology.
America can lead the way on both energy production of all types, as well as environmental stewardship. Virtue-signaling, shouting slogans, and hiding the realities that no energy source is truly “green” and that energy-production is integral to our economy and national security is no way to create policy — let alone impose it.
We should create a multi-faceted energy policy that makes us energy independent, helps our environment, creates jobs, and makes us less dependent on our enemies and their use of child-labor — to make us a true world leader.
Guy Ciarrocchi is Fellow with the Commonwealth Foundation, and a columnist with
Broad+Liberty and RealClearPennsylvania. Follow him @GuyCiarrocchi.
6 thoughts on “Guy Ciarrocchi: It’s past time for an honest discussion about “green energy””
Excellent article. A thought: if you peppered this article with notes for citations or giving credit to sources – it would be far more impactful to deploy against short-sighted and greedy politicians, those intentionally misleading us, and others blindly advocating their religion-like ideology. Press on!
“When presented with this evidence, suburban white women shrugged their shoulders, half scowled and stated they felt attacked and just wanted to be left alone because they were trying to be good people helping the environment. “Like, stop. All I know is, electric cars are better for the environment. Otherwise, why would everyone be saying that? I dont..don’t… like… know all this stuff. Like, leave me alone. I’m just trying to be a good person and you aren’t.
I went to a really nice high school, then took out loans for a nice college and an MBA before getting married to a successful lawyer, having 3 kids and spend my days taking them to sports and dance. My husband paid off my loans and I only worked 2 years. End the patriarchy.””
Outstanding article! Agree with poster above it would be far more powerful with a follow up discussing all the research that supports the negative implications of so-called “green” and not-so “clean” energy. The issue is of utmost importance to those of us who reside permanently at the Jersey shore, or those with investment properties along the NJ coast–as Governor Phil Murphy took away home rule from NJ citizens in 2021 and is pushing offshore wind down our throats! Surveying work has begun–the sonar boats have been out “taking” (aka killing–the language of government agency NOAA) NJ and NY’s whales and dolphins for months. And don’t forget about our commercial fishermen who depend upon the fruits of a healthy clean ocean for their very survival. Please support the many citizen action groups in NJ who are are volunteering their time to fight the offshore wind projects coming to our shores! Time is of the essence. They all need financial support to mount many legal challenges that lie ahead. Please join their efforts on social media. There are DEFEND BRIGANTINE BEACH, PROTECT OUR COAST NJ, SAVE LBI, and SAVE JERSEY SHORE, among others, on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
I tend to believe that we are unable to have meaningful and productive conversations about energy as long as we divide ourselves into the “good guys” (us) and the “bad guys” (them). Let’s start by trying to find common ground. Are there people who don’t want the have plentiful, economical and clean energy? So, what must we as a society do to pursue that goal? Progress will in all likelihood be incremental. Fossil fuels will have a place that can be reduced as reasonable priced alternatives are developed. We have to rationally calculate the costs and the benefits of each step. As it is proposed now, one camp wants to force compliance no matter the cost to the average person, while the other side wants to knock every proposal that is put forward. EVs are great for those who can afford them and for whom they fit their lifestyle. A five-year old gas powered Honda that gets 30 mpg is the choice for the average person who doesn’t have a six figure income and a hour or two to spend charging an EV every couple of days. All of these arguments need to be fleshed out and reasonable steps taken rather than continue the diatribes and the unfeeling bureaucratic rulings from the unelected.
Fear of CO2 is the greatest destructive force on earth. It’s given to us by utility CEOs poised to make trillions on that fear.
Well said, Guy. If only the green crazies would allow us to have such open and frank discussions, without shouting down and silencing each and every dissenting view.