If we put the cart before the horse with electric vehicle technology, nobody wins

August 14 – In 2021, the Maryland General Assembly passed greenhouse gas reduction goals that to a number of people seem more than a little lofty. 

The goals include a 60% reduction in greenhouse gasses (compared to 2006 levels) by 2031 as well as achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045. 

This is going to have a huge impact on pretty much every business in the state. 

Paul Frey, president of the Washington County Chamber of Commerce, said, “They don’t know all the power generation we need to replace currently with our oil and our gas power and what it’s going to cost.”

School buses are another factor in reducing gas emissions. A diesel powered school bus is $90,000 and an electric school bus is $340,000. That’s a huge jump in cost. 

Frey added, “In addition, in 2025 the projection is Maryland will be $1 billion dollars in the hole on our state budget. So between electrification, the blueprint for education, all these programs, we’re not sure where the money’s going to come from and there are no answers.” 

A number of people believe the federal government will be the answer for funding. 

Frey noted, “We’re the federal government, too, as taxpayers. If there’s opposition to some of this, we’re looked at as climate deniers and we can’t have just a good dialogue. What are the options? We just want diverse sources of energy, and it’s just not all about electrification. There is solar power, there’s wind power. There’s also natural gas and propane, it’s a clean energy. We should look at that. I also think there’s room for fossil fuel to some extent. So we’re just looking at diversity. This quote from Margaret Thatcher is that the problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money. We’re the funder of all this as taxpayers. So we want you to get involved. We want you to call your local elected officials, your state elected officials, and just weigh in on what some options are and your concerns.”

Pat Ryan of NewsTalk 103.7FM added, “You think about how much juice does it take to charge an electric bus and then what happens in the cold with your kiddos? If you just stop for a hot second and think. And then, what? Three times the cost? It’s unsustainable. Imagine all the charging stations and all the infrastructure and all the stuff that goes along with it.”

Michele Jansen of NewsTalk 103.7FM said, “What bothers me both at the federal level and Maryland is adopting California standards. That’s what they adopted by law. You’re setting deadlines that we have no idea if we can meet. We have no idea if we can get our infrastructure to the point where it can handle that. I was just talking to a friend who was telling me about a friend of his who got an electric truck and tried to do a 1000 plus mile trip with it. He calculated all the costs along the way. It cost him way more. He had a charger put into his house, his electric bills were out of this world. He would have to stop for about two and a half hours, he had 10 percent left on his battery to get that back to 90 percent. It just wasn’t worth it for the time it took him to take this trip and the expense of the electricity and then the expense of the electricity at home, putting in a charging station. He said it was absolutely not worth it. We have no idea if they can meet these deadlines of zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045.”

“Balance, grasshopper,” Frey said. “Balance.” 

Jim Kercheval, executive director of the Greater Hagerstown Committee, said, “It’s an issue we’re following closely. It’s not just the financial cost involved, but just trying to make sure that we are covering ourselves to have some backup plan. If you rely heavily on the electric grid for everything, and something happens to go down, what are you going to do? It’s putting a lot of faith in something that we really don’t have the infrastructure for yet and there’s even questions whether the infrastructure can keep up with it. Or even big commercial units. Electric cooling heating systems haven’t always really come up to the level where they can handle this big mass of cooling. You need to look at some other fuels. I think their first goal is laudable. You want to celebrate trying to go to zero emissions and get to where you’re not impacting the environment. But you’ve got to let technology catch up to the patient.”

Jansen said, “I don’t understand why legislators think it’s necessary to set a hard, fast goal in terms of the year that things have to be done because that can put artificial pressures on technology that’s not ready to go yet. So we could end up with substandard technology that’s not really accomplishing what we want and or we end up with tremendous costs we cannot meet or deprivation of people being able to move about the way they would want to. So I think it’s a little foolish and foolhardy to set these hard fast dates for a laudable goal.”

Kercheval said, “A lot of times when you want to come in first, there are certain things you want to come in first for. I don’t necessarily believe this is one. I think you try to learn from some others’ mistakes. You don’t go out and buy that brand new model vehicle its first year it’s built. You let it kind of sit a year or two and you say alright, let’s see how that model and vehicle’s going to go. Is it going to be reliable? A lot of times my experience has been when you say ‘hey, I want to be first first’, that’s a little more political statement that it is really common sense and good sense.” 

Jansen pointed out, “One example is solar panels. Now we’re finding out there’s a very interesting report from someone who looked at things much more carefully than apparently they had been being looked at, is that solar panels made in China, which is where we get most of them emit five times the greenhouse gasses than they originally said in the making of these things. So are we really getting that bang for the buck for that? Maybe not. Maybe we need a little bit more research and time to figure that out.”

Kercheval said, “These are complicated issues, and you can’t study them forever, but at the same time, I think you need to move cautiously and take some time to let the technology catch up, look at what others are doing and learn from others’ mistakes and then move forward.”