Don Stratton: Way too much, way too soon

Let me begin by saying that I am not against electric cars. They probably are the future of personal transportation, but the key word there is “future.” The Biden administration and the nut-job government of California are trying very hard to do way too much, way too soon.

Let’s go back approximately 120 years to the very early days of the automobile. Can you even begin to imagine what would have happened if President Theodore Roosevelt, upon seeing the development of the automobile, had suddenly had the brilliant Progressive thought (a classic three-word oxymoron) that the draft horse must be phased out within a few years?

Let’s say that in order to achieve this goal, he set a date, maybe 15 years into the future — like California just did for gasoline-powered cars — after which no horse-drawn vehicles would be permitted. In order to achieve this goal, he placed an onerous tax on hay, a heavy environmental tax on the disposal of horse manure and limited the raising of it by farmers. There probably were numerous other regulations that the Washington bureaucratic minds could have come with in order to achieve an impossible goal without regard for the possible consequences.

So, 15 years later, what would we have had to replace the horses? For one thing, automobiles that for the most part were incapable of traveling long distances, on roads that were mostly still dirt or gravel and still best suited for the large diameter wheels found only on horse-drawn vehicles. Commercial trucks were produced in only very limited numbers before 1917.

Tires had not been perfected to the point that they would last more than a few miles. Cars didn’t even have electric starters and had to be cranked. Driving at any speed in the rain was all but impossible because if cars had a windshield wiper at all, it was hand-operated.

Manufacturing capacity would have been insufficient to produce enough automobiles to replace most of the approximately 20 million horses in use in the U.S. in 1917, and refining capacity would have been insufficient to fuel them.

Fortunately, President Teddy Roosevelt’s government was not driven by pie-in-the-sky ideology as is the current administration, and the government made no such decisions. The inevitable changeover was allowed to evolve at its own pace without government interference.

Fast forward to the present day, and look at the wanton disregard of possible roadblocks and consequences by the Biden administration in their ill-conceived plan to quickly phase out fossil fuels at any cost. To begin with, under current technology, fossil fuels are still required to produce the power needed to run the electric vehicles. It is currently impossible to produce enough power for our existing needs using only wind, water and solar energy.

California’s ban on gasoline vehicles is the most harebrained scheme to come along in years. Who in their right mind would even consider adding a huge additional burden onto their already inadequate power supply? They are having serious difficulties obtaining enough electric power, and as recently as last September they had to advise residents to reduce the use of air conditioners during a heat wave. At the same time, officials were worried about the impending possibility of rolling blackouts due to insufficient power supply.

The entire plan makes no sense. The government has already forcibly eliminated much of our coal-produced energy, is in the process of doing the same with oil and natural gas, while at the same time trying to add the onerous and probably impossible burden of a burgeoning number of electric vehicles to the already overburdened power grid. Compounding the problem are the numerous government regulatory hurdles that stand in the way of building new power plants.

Just as the automobile succeeded in replacing the horse, electric vehicles will eventually succeed in replacing fossil-fueled vehicles, but the process should be permitted to progress at its own pace. Forcing one part of the process (vehicles) without giving equal attention to the other part (the power to run them), will only result in another typical government boondoggle.

Don Stratton is a retired inspector for the Lima Police Department. His column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Lima News editorial board or AIM Media, owner of The Lima News.