By: David Deschesne
Fort Fairfield Journal, December 29, 2021
AUGUSTA, Maine—A report from Governor Mills’ Energy Office explores ways to coerce and cajole Mainers into purchasing electric vehicles as the Governor pursues her dream of eliminating all fossil fuel consumption from the State (which also means ultimately all wood burning stoves and fuel oil and natural gas furnaces—all home heating and cooking would be electric).
One of the strategies to achieve this goal is to increase fuel taxes on motorists in order to discourage them from using fossil fuel-based vehicles. However, the consultants who wrote the report for the governor noted that historically, higher gas taxes did little to reduce fuel consumption. The report noted that an increase in gasoline prices from $3.00 to $3.50 per gallon only reduced consumption by 0.3% – 1.5%. Therefore, other more creative ways of punishing owners of internal combustion engines were dreamt up—such as increased tolls and a system where motorists are charged a tax for every mile they drive—a feat that would be incredibly easy to do with electric vehicles which are essentially GPS computer systems sitting atop a 4-wheeled battery bank that can report everything back to the government (such as your speed).
“While some folks won’t mind an increased gas tax to make it easier to charge their Telsa, the average Mainer without a practical use or financial ability to purchase and use an electric vehicle should be outraged at Janet Mills,” said Republican Governors Association spokesman, Will Reinert. “Governor Mills’ gas tax proposal will hurt already struggling Maine families just trying to commute to work or pick their kids up from school during an already difficult time of record inflation.”
The governor’s report notes how families with an annual income of less than $50,000 per year tend to drive older vehicles, averaging 12.9 years old, because that’s all they can afford. At a cost of $35,000 to $90,000, a new Electric Vehicle is priced out of the market for people in this income bracket—who make up most of rural and northern Maine.
Rebates of up to $7,500, derived from fuel taxes and other taxpayer-funded sources are suggested in the report, but that will still keep low income families out of the EV market for many years to come.
When the electric vehicle market matures and ages in Maine, and used electric vehicles become available at more affordable prices, buyers of these vehicles will be faced with replacing the nearly 1,000 pound battery pack which continually degrades, losing its ability to hold a charge, over its 8 to 10 year lifetime.
Electric vehicles use the same kind of lithium batteries found in computers and cell phones—they just use hundreds, and perhaps thousands of those individual cells to create the vehicle’s battery bank. Just as a computer’s battery loses its ability to hold a charge, continually degrading over its short three to four-year lifetime, the lithium batteries in electric vehicles do the same. The mileage attainable from a new battery in a new EV will degrade every year, and ultimately by as much as half of its original range over the battery’s 8 to 10 year lifetime.
Replacement EV batteries currently cost between $10,000 to $14,000 which would once again price these expensive novelty toys out of the market for many low income Mainers, no matter how cheap the used electric vehicle market becomes (which isn’t likely) or how high you raise the taxes on their internal combustion vehicles.
The governor’s report correctly states that after an enormous amount of fossil fuels are burned to mine the materials to build the cars and their esoteric battery banks, there are no emissions in their use after that. However, the report glosses over the long-term environmental costs which amount to dramatic water shortages for agriculture in the central portion of South America where huge amounts of water are diverted to the lithium mines to create the brines that lithium is derived from for those EV batteries. On the other side of the globe, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the African continent, Cobalt is mined by children and ill-equipped adults under notoriously unsafe health conditions to provide the materials for the anode in the EV lithium batteries. Some forms of cobalt are mildly radioactive and the dust in the air in that region has led to catastrophic birth defects, shortened life spans, lung and respiratory issues and soil and water which can no longer support farming or fishing. So, the West gets to have “clean” energy storage in exchange for destroying the health and ecosystems of large portions of at least two continents on the planet—just so some people can have electric cars and computer gadgets to play with and politicians can dance around singing the ‘green energy’ song and dance.
Currently, most of the electric vehicle charging stations in Maine are in the ultra-wealthy, hard-core socialist portion of the state on the southeast coast from Portland through Bar Harbor. Socialists in that area suffer a myopic view of the world that is caused by the limitation of their exposure to the rest of the state. They believe since they have access to many charging stations within just a few miles of each other for their expensive novelty electric vehicle toys, everyone else in the state does, too. However, the governor’s report notes there are less than half a dozen charging stations in the entire northern half of the state above Millinocket making long road trips nearly impossible; even if the EV owner is willing to wait around for the 45 minutes to an hour it would take to charge their car.
The governor’s answer to the charging station problem is, of course, to raise more taxes to build more charging stations. But, the state’s aging electric grid may not be able to handle all of these new power demands without first being upgraded and modernized—again with more increased taxes and higher electric rates offsetting any savings that may have been touted on paper during erudite, confirmation-biased brainstorming green energy discussion sessions in fancy hotel banquet rooms, shielded from the vicissitudes of normal, everyday life the rest of us have to live in.
A lot of hay is being made about Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions by the political elite and ‘green energy’ gurus. But what is never discussed at their dinner parties, much less to the general public, is that CO2 is consumed as a food source by all green plants and trees; and the more of it is in the atmosphere, the faster those plants grow and consume it. As green plants consume CO2, they strip off the carbon atom and store it, then give off plain oxygen which we all get to breathe.
The governor’s energy plan is attempting to force a change in consumer habits using technology that is not yet ready—especially for the winters and long travel distances of Northern Maine—for a society that is by-in-large not able to afford the expensive vehicles, or the expensive upkeep of the computer systems and specialized parts used in those delicate, computerized, four-wheeled battery banks with passenger compartments.
©2021 David Deschesne
Fort Fairfield Journal
252 Main Street
Fort Fairfield, Maine 04742