Governor Dan McKee signed into law legislation to increase renewable energy production and supply by requiring that 100 percent of Rhode Island’s electricity be offset by renewable production …
Governor Dan McKee signed into law legislation to increase renewable energy production and supply by requiring that 100 percent of Rhode Island’s electricity be offset by renewable production by 2033. This month, he announced a plan to end the sale of new gas-powered vehicles in Rhode Island by 2035 in order to rein in carbon pollution by slashing tailpipe emissions.
His actions mirror those of President Joe Biden, who set the goal of 100 percent clean power by 2035. As the former attorney for the Rhode Island Conservation Law Foundation, I found it nice to hear, but like everything else, particularly at the federal level, it is just political rhetoric. It is not the governor’s fault, per se. He won’t achieve any of these laudable targets because Congress and the Executive Branch don’t have a plan or a clue on how to achieve these goals in light of other contingencies which militate against their achievement.
Whether it is energy policy, regulation of social media or of artificial intelligence, Congress is always a day late and a dollar short.
Since the Industrial Revolution, the United States has excelled in manufacturing, which has been the bulwark of the U.S. dollar. In his upcoming book, “On My Watch; Tyrants and Patriots,” former Ambassador and Secretary of the Navy William Middendorf II correctly notes that about 20 years ago the United States began to forfeit its lead in manufacturing to China. He cites as an example the case of a friend who makes water rollers that use hundreds of ball bearings, which cost him $4 to $6 each in the United States but which can be bought in China for 25 cents.
The back-up to lost manufacturing is this country’s substantial natural resources, which we could sell to the world to back up the dollar. A little more than two years ago, he argues, the United States was energy independent and positioned to drop the price of oil to 30 or 40 dollars a barrel, which would have bankrupted Russia, whose cost of production was higher.
By cutting U.S. energy production, in effect we funded the Russian war against Ukraine while also hamstringing energy production here and endangering the dollar.
Since the technology here has not caught up to mitigate global warming, the country is taking another economic hit by curbing oil production while being too late to enter the renewable energy leadership.
The European Union’s vote to ban the sale of gasoline and diesel cars by 2035, as we have done in Rhode Island, will make Europe (and us) more dependent on China, which controls the market of batteries for electric cars. China has outpaced the U.S. in its own mining, as well as buying up rights to lithium reserves in Africa and Latin America.
The United States is caught flatfooted, because in the name of environmental activism the U.S. hasn’t a cogent plan of phase in/ phase out. This country has neither the bird in the hand nor the one in the bush.
This is the equivalent of walking but not being able to chew gum at the same time. While D.C. partisans bicker, they are harming this county’s future because of a lack of planning for energy leadership. They need to stuff the rhetoric and figure this out before we are at China’s mercy.
Arlene Violet is an attorney and former Rhode Island Attorney General.