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The Pawns Push Back against the Trudeau Government’s Electric Vehicle Diktats

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From the C2C Journal

By Gwyn Morgan

Perhaps there is a certain twisted logic to the woke left’s attempt to convince schoolchildren that math is racist and that 2 plus 2 might well equal 5. For this may be the only way to get the “math” surrounding the Justin Trudeau government’s push to force Canadians into buying only electric vehicles as of 2035 to work in any way at all. Gwyn Morgan reviews the actual math of key elements of the EV transition scheme – the electric power needs, the subsidized purchases, the tax credits, the vast number of required charging stations, the maintenance of roads – and finds both the costs and the implementation obstacles to be a mixture of steep, dubious and prohibitive. So much so, Morgan concludes, as to cast the entire EV transition in doubt.

The federal government has mandated that all new passenger vehicles and light-duty trucks sold in Canada be electrically powered by 2035. Two of the many serious obstacles to achieving that goal will be the requirement for vastly more electrical generating capacity along with hundreds of thousands of additional charging stations.

A study by the Fraser Institute released in March, Electric Vehicles and the Demand for Electricity, found that the addition of millions of EVs to Canada’s roads would push nationwide demand for electricity up by more than 15 percent, requiring the equivalent of either 10 new large hydroelectric dams the size of B.C.’s nearly completed Site C Dam on the Peace River, or 13 large new natural gas-fuelled facilities. The Site C dam needed 10 years to gain environmental approval, took an additional decade to build and has cost $16 billion. All to generate approximately 1,100 megawatts of electricity. Most of Canada’s viable large-scale sites have already been dammed, and opposition to any new dam would be bound to be even more stubborn than against Site C. Planning, funding, building and commissioning 10 new dams the size of Site C or larger in the next 11 years is clearly unrealistic.

The cost of a charge: Research suggests that adding millions of EVs to Canadian roads would require an over 15 percent increase in nationwide electricity supply – equivalent to 10 large hydroelectric dams the size of B.C.’s $16 billion Site C Dam on the Peace River (bottom). (Source of bottom photo: BC Hydro)

That leaves the natural gas-fired plants. Technically, these could be built in such a time-frame, and western Canada is producing sufficient natural gas to fuel them. But not only is the Justin Trudeau government vehemently opposed to building any new fossil fuel-powered electricity plants, doing so would kibosh those EV’s zero emissions; they would become fossil-fuel-powered vehicles, just indirectly.

In addition, the cost of building and operating those gas plants would be enormous. And who would pay? Since it’s virtually impossible to separate power billing by source, their costs would need to be rolled into existing electricity rates. That would increase the burden on Canadian ratepayers and businesses, many of which are already struggling. And it might even lead inflation-weary, economically hard-pressed citizens sick of all the costly political games to riot in the streets. The only alternative, then, would be huge nationwide power subsidies in a country with an already massive national debt.

The whole campaign to “transition” Canadians into EVs is already prodigiously expensive. Consider just the direct EV subsidies, aimed at narrowing the price advantage that internal combustion engine vehicles have over EVs. The federal government currently kicks in a $5,000 subsidy for every EV purchased in Canada. Another 24 million or so EVs will need to be sold to switch over Canada’s entire light-duty vehicle fleet. The overall subsidy math is pretty simple.

Then, powering up all the anticipated new EVs will require a major push to install charging stations all over Canada. Here again, taxpayers are being forced to ride to the rescue with Ottawa’s $680 million Zero Emission Vehicle Infrastructure Program (ZEVIP). Meaning, subsidized charging stations. ZEVIP comes after the federal government has already spent more than $1 billion “to make EV’s more affordable and chargers more accessible for Canadians.” How has that worked out? As of late 2021 the entire country had just 6,000 publicly available EV charging stations. ZEVIP has the grandiose goal of adding another 84,500. But Canada requires some 160,000 gasoline and diesel pumps to keep its vehicle fleet running and make refuelling reasonably convenient nearly anywhere. Recharging an EV takes at least 10 times as long as gassing up a regular car, implying the need for a couple of million EV charging stations.

Good luck with that: The Government of Canada claims its $680 million Zero Emission Vehicle Infrastructure Program will help get nearly 85,000 charging stations built. But in the U.S., President Joe Biden’s US$7.5 billion charging station construction program has produced just eight charging stations in two-and-a-half years. (Sources of photos: (top) Marc Bruxelle/Shutterstock; (bottom) EV Central)

The program will also be burdened with the maddening reality – as I detailed in this recent column – that nothing government touches comes in on time or on budget any longer. So what will ZEVIP’s $680 million really buy? Recent U.S. experience may be sadly instructive. The enormous Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed at the behest of the Joe Biden Administration in late 2021 allotted US$7.5 billion to build a promised 500,000 EV charging stations by 2030. As of last month, the U.S. government had succeeded in building a grand total of – wait for it – eight. No, there aren’t any zeros missing. So I’m not hopeful that EV charging stations will magically mushroom all across our nation, either.

Adding to the taxpayer-committed largesse here in Canada, a recent report by the Osler law firm carries news of a new EV supply-chain incentive included in the Liberals’ gargantuan Budget 2024 that provides a further 10 percent tax credit, this one for buildings used to manufacture EVs, batteries, and related materials. It comes on top of the existing, massive 15-30 percent tax credits on investment in or manufacture of “clean” technology and EVs. The latest corporate giveaway was designed for Honda’s recently announced $15 billion plant, but also applies to other new projects.

Who’s to pay? Canadians driving gasoline-powered vehicles pay over $23 billion in road use taxes annually while EV drivers coast along for free – an unrealistic arrangement if EVs do take over our roads. (Source of photo: Shutterstock)

If your head isn’t already spinning in trying to comprehend the massive scale of consumer and taxpayer largesse being shovelled towards the EV industry – all in an effort to convince Canadians to switch en masse to these expensive, unreliable and inconvenient cars – there’s another huge subsidy: free road use. We reprehensible drivers of gasoline and diesel vehicles pay a lot in fuel taxes.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation’s 24th Annual Gas Tax Honesty Report shows that Canadian drivers in 2022 paid an average of 55 cents per litre in gasoline taxes (based on a retail price of $1.76 per litre; exact tax rates vary by province, of course). Combining that information with Statistics Canada data estimating total gasoline consumption of 42.5 billion litres in 2022 means that Canadian drivers collectively pay over $23 billion in road use taxes annually to all levels of government.

Meanwhile, EV drivers continue to pay nothing. Besides the grievous disparity of this situation, Trudeau’s EV mandate would gradually remove gasoline and diesel-fuelled vehicles from the road. Then who will pay to maintain the roads for all those EVs to travel on? Clearly, EVs will need to be taxed in some way, and some provinces are just starting to do so, like Saskatchewan’s $150 extra annual registration fee on EVs, introduced in late 2021. But such baby steps will need to get a lot larger if gasoline-powered vehicles really do start vanishing from daily traffic. But having to start paying their share to maintain roads will make EVs even less attractive to car buyers.

Now for the most important question. Will this big shift to EVs have any environmental benefit? Manufacturing EV batteries requires huge quantities of “rare earth” minerals as well as conventional metals. A Fraser Institute report published in November, Can Metal Mining Match the Speed of the Planned Electric Vehicle Transition? references an International Energy Agency study showing that to meet international EV pledges a gargantuan 388 new lithium, nickel, cobalt and other related metal mines will be needed worldwide. But the typical timeline from regulatory application to first production varies from six-nine years for lithium to 13-18 years for nickel. Rare-earth mineral production can’t possibly ramp up fast enough to meet the Trudeau government’s 2035 all-EV “mandate”.

What about the human cost of all those mines? Most of the world’s known large rare-earth mineral deposits are in developing countries. A report from a team of researchers led by Northwestern University, entitled Understanding cobalt’s human cost, examined the impact of cobalt mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It found that such mining had “dire effects on human well-being,” including “increases in violence, substance abuse, food and water insecurity, and physical and mental health challenges,” as well as uprooting farmers from their lands and in some cases kicking them out of their houses. Half of the world’s rare-earth minerals lie in Africa, where reports of child labour and other human rights abuses are all too common.

The human cost of a “green” future: Depicted is the main cobalt mining site in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where 75 percent of this critical input to EV batteries is mined; as one recent academic report notes, this hazardous industry has “dire effects on human well-being”, including on physical and mental health, and often involves child-labour and human rights abuses. (Source of photos: Siddharth Kara, retrieved from The Independent)

Clearly, the answer to the question “Will the shift to EVs have any net environmental benefit?” is “No.” Moreover, the human cost of trying to meet the EV targets will be profoundly negative.

These formidable direct obstacles to a smooth EV transition make it highly unlikely that Trudeau’s ban on gasoline vehicles will happen. But the most profound underlying reason the entire scheme is probably doomed comes from the man who first articulated the principles of personal and economic freedom. In his 1759 book The Theory of Moral Sentiments, economist and philosopher Adam Smith stated, “The man of the system seems to imagine that he can arrange the different members of a great society with as much ease as the hand arranges different pieces upon a chessboard. But people are not chess pieces to be moved around by a hand from above.”

Like philosopher Adam Smith’s (top left) “man of the system”, Justin Trudeau (top right) tries to arrange people as if they are “pieces upon a chessboard”; but the thousands of unsold EVs filling vast parking lots in China, the U.S. and seaports around the world suggest car-buying consumers are still capable of independent decision-making. (Sources of photos: (top right) The Canadian Press/Chad Hipolito; (bottom) Golden Shrimp/Shutterstock)

Justin Trudeau is the very embodiment of Adam Smith’s “man of the system”, attempting to push Canadians around like pawns on an ideological chessboard. But even as I write this column come reports of EV sales collapsing – and of vast parking lots of unsold and perhaps unsaleable EVs in China, Australia and dockside at various seaports – despite aggressive price slashing and all those ever-increasing taxpayer subsidies. The “hand from above” is losing to the independent thinking of regular people.

Gwyn Morgan is a retired business leader who was a director of five global corporations.

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Current EV strategy charging ahead to failure

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Dan McTeague  Written By Dan McTeague

For years now I’ve been saying that electric vehicles, and EV mandates, are bad for Canada.

Back in 2020, when the then-CEO of Toyota, Akio Toyoda, voiced his concerns that governments were moving too fast in their push for an all-electric car market when there were other good options available which didn’t require the same multi-billion dollar infrastructure overhaul or increase in electricity generation, I asked why we weren’t listening to a man who knows his own business.

When Europe found itself in an energy crisis in the winter of 2022, and the Swiss government asked its citizens to avoid driving their EVs, even considering an outright ban, to protect their fragile electricity grid, I said that with our already-strained grid we were seeing our future playing out before us in Switzerland and mandates or no, consumers just wouldn’t stand for it.

And more recently, as stories have piled up of EVs’ vulnerability to the cold — “We got a bunch of dead robots out here,” as one frustrated EV owner put it, surrounded by frozen EVs that had run out of juice while waiting for a charge in a cold snap — I’ve asked over and over again, why on earth our government is trying to force the large scale adoption of an automobile technology which functions so poorly in a normal Canadian winter.

I take no pleasure in being proved right, but nearly every day brings about a new story of EVs failing to meet the lofty expectations our leaders have set for them.

  • Recent headlines have trumpeted the difficulties EV drivers are having getting their cars fixed, because so few mechanics know how to work on them.
  • People are finding that the resale value of their EV is falling at a much faster rate than their neighbour’s reliable internal combustion engine vehicle.
  • Rental car companies like Hertz have been taking major losses after over-investing in EVs, that no one wants to rent. Apparently people don’t like the idea of pinning their vacation on a car they might not be able to charge.
  • And major auto manufacturers have been significantly scaling back their annual EV production, despite impending mandates which will force consumers to buy their product in just over a decade.

Even with the generous government subsidies handed to Ford in order to produce made-in-Canada electric SUVs, that company has decided to push their release date for the vehicles back two years — a decision that means layoffs for the majority of the 2,700 workers at the plant, according to the Globe and Mail. GM has followed suit, with recent  reports  claiming that they are “having a second look” at plans to build EV motors at their plant in St. Catherines, Ontario.

Those companies are beginning to accept reality, something various nations around the world have started to do, as well. The U.K., Germany, Italy, and other European countries, as well as the U.S., have had resistance to EV mandates play a big role in their politics lately. The Biden campaign was even forced to issue a statement saying, “There is no ‘EV mandate,’” after Donald Trump predicted to Detroit autoworkers that the White House’s pro-EV policies would put them out of work.

In the face of all of this, the Trudeau government continues to double down, reaffirming mandates and shovelling more and more tax dollars into the EV fire.

They should know better.

And maybe they do.

But maybe the dollars and the promises to their activist friends have just gotten so big that they feel like they can’t change course now.

Or maybe they are just too stubborn to admit that people like me were right all along, that they bet big and they bet wrong. And they can’t say they weren’t warned.

Buckle up.

Dan McTeague is President of Canadians for Affordable Energy

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Biden’s Ambitious EV Charging ‘Fantasy’ May Be On A Collision Course With Reality

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From the Daily Caller News Foundation

By NICK POPE

 

President Joe Biden has pledged to install 500,000 public electric vehicle (EV) chargers around the U.S. by 2030, but logistical hurdles may be too much to overcome.

The Biden administration landed $7.5 billion to build out a network of public EV charging stations around the country in the bipartisan infrastructure package of 2021, but those funds have only led to a handful of operational charging stations to date. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg reaffirmed the administration’s goal to build 500,000 chargers with the money by 2030 during a May television appearance on CBS News, but challenges like adding transmission lines, navigating the permitting process and coordinating with utility companies figure to make the goal improbable.

As of April 1, the administration’s $7.5 billion push had only led to seven operational charging stations combining for less than 40 chargers around the U.S., a pace that has drawn criticism from House Republicans and even Democratic Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley. While other projects are on their way to being built and operational, the nation’s EV charging infrastructure remains mostly concentrated in more densely-populated, coastal areas of the country, according to the Department of Energy (DOE).

While results have been slow to materialize, federal funding should be sufficient to build approximately 25,000 charging spots at about 5,000 stations, according to Atlas Public Policy, a policy analysis organization that focuses specifically on EVs. In order to reach those figures by 2030, the administration’s funding will have to spur the construction of more than 900 stations each year until then, a big step up from the program’s output of less than 10 stations over nearly three years.

“Our programs are accelerating private sector investment that puts us on track to deploy 500,000 charging ports well ahead of schedule and continue to expand a convenient and reliable charging network,” a Department of Transportation spokesperson told the DCNF. “There are currently projects underway in partnership with states and local grantees for 14,000 federally-funded EV charging ports across the country under the [National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI)] and [Charging and Fueling Infrastructure (CFI)] programs that will build on the 184,000 chargers operational today.”

Of the 184,000 chargers in operation today, more than 107,000 were already in circulation as of 2020, the last full year before the Biden administration took office, according to the DOE. Moreover, there are only about 10,000 fast charger stations in the U.S., a number that EV proponents would like to see increase to alleviate the public’s concerns about EV range and recharging wait times, according to The Washington Post.

Some of the biggest logistical hurdles are ones that may not be immediately obvious, such as enduring the process of building out needed transmission lines and upgrading existing utility infrastructure to accommodate hundreds of thousands of new chargers, according to experts who spoke with the Daily Caller News Foundation about whether such a number of chargers will be operational by 2030.

One skeptical expert is Dr. Jonathan Lesser, a senior fellow at the National Center for Energy Analytics and president of Continental Economics. Lesser estimates that “hundreds of thousands of miles” of new transmission lines will be needed to deliver enough electricity to the right places to meet the administration’s goal, a tall order given that the U.S. managed to complete less than 700 miles of transmission projects in 2022, according to data aggregated by Statista.

Lesser wrote his own analysis of the challenges the administration’s EV charger push faces for The Hill on Monday.

“The administration’s efforts to mandate EVs without considering the physical infrastructure to charge them (to say nothing of the cost), not only highway charging stations but also the necessary upgrades to millions of miles of local distribution circuits and transformers for home charging – is either an exercise in green virtue signaling or a cynical effort to restrict Americans’ mobility,” Lesser told the DCNF. “If EVs are the wave of the future then consumers will purchase them without the need for mandates and the private sector will develop the necessary infrastructure, just as it did a century ago and just as Tesla has done for its vehicles, without the need for government intervention.”

“If all those chargers were in place, you would need hundreds of thousands of large transformers and transmission lines along highways to provide the electricity,” Lesser continued. “You would also need linemen to install everything – and they are already in short supply. Of course, none of this addresses the issue of where the electricity comes from – if it is to be from renewables (e.g., wind and solar), there would have to be a massive building effort.”

Lesser believes there is “not a chance” that the 500,000 charger goal is met by 2030, and added that Buttigieg’s suggestion the administration will reach that target amounts to “pure fantasy.”

In addition to the billions of dollars meant to subsidize public charging infrastructure, the administration is also spending big to help manufacturers produce more EVs and to blunt the higher costs of EVs for consumers. Further, federal agencies have also promulgated aggressive fuel economy standards and tailpipe emissions rules that will force significant increases in EV sales over the next decade for light-, medium- and heavy-duty models.

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm described the chargers covered by the $7.5 billion program as “the hardest ones because they’re going to places where the private sector hasn’t gone because there’s no electricity, because they’re remote” at Politico’s 2024 Energy Summit remarks on Wednesday.

Aidan Mackenzie — an infrastructure fellow at the Institute for Progress with particular expertise covering energy, transportation and housing policy — agreed that logistical challenges are likely to hinder the administration’s goal for charger deployment by 2030. Specifically, he highlighted securing complementary infrastructure, like transmission lines, as likely to sap time and resources away from the effort to construct a national network of public chargers.

“It seems like it’s going to be hard to meet this target,” Mackenzie told the DCNF. “Different utility regions do not necessarily have an incentive to plan or build large capacity transmission lines that share power. They often interrupt the way that utilities want to control the generation in their region. So, I would very much expect that to be the binding constraint.”

However, Mackenzie added that the administration could achieve the desired results of its $7.5 billion program and its broader goal of 500,000 charger goal if regulators and builders are able to develop “muscle memory” in the earlier stages of rollout so that officials from both sectors can more easily and quickly navigate complex processes in the near future.

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