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Hey! Know What Ends When We All Have Electric Nerd Cars? Bitching About Gas Prices!
No more wars for oil, either.
As you Wonkers may have noticed, Yr Dok Zoom is quickly becoming an electrification nerd. Tell me about the clean energy grid, tell me about battery storage innovation and lithium-ion battery reuse and recycling! And please, talk nerdy to me about electric cars. Yesterday, Chris Hayes's MSNBC Geek Emporium of the Cableverse featured an interview with Ryan Cooper, whose new article at The Week brings up an idea that I bet most of us have never thought of: As electric vehicles become the norm (and that's inevitable; the only question is how long it'll take), American politics will no longer feature pointless arguments or attack ads about gas prices.
Oh, sure, keeping the planet capable of sustaining large mammals like the capybara, the Thomson's gazelle, and Javier Bardem is the really critical thing. But it would also be an unmitigated good to eliminate all the time, emotional energy, and advertising revenue that's wasted on an issue that everyone agrees no president has much control over.
As Hayes noted, gas prices were one of the absolute top issues early in the 2008 presidential campaign, with John McCain mocking Barack Obama's entirely accurate advice that people can maximize their gas mileage just by keeping their tires properly inflated. McCain even gave away tire pressure gauges labeled "OBAMA'S ENERGY PLAN" as gag gifts for donors.
And as Hayes pointed out, the whole dumb issue vanished in a cloud of mortgage-backed securities by the time of the election, because gas prices fell sharply due to the financial crisis.
Right now, we're supposed to be in some sort of new crisis because gas prices are really high, and Cooper says that makes sense, because unlike, say, high interest rates, we see the price of gas whenever we fill up. To make matters worse, the fairly loose fuel efficiency standards of the past few decades, plus low average fuel prices since about 2014, have resulted in people buying lots of gas guzzling SUVs and pickup trucks, regardless of how little they haul steel beams for work or drive out in the wilderness.
So here's a big dang thing: Oil prices can swing wildly depending on all sorts of factors — remember when that pipeline got ransomwared earlier this year and people all over the East Coast lined up at gas stations like it was 1973 again? But electricity pricing tends to be pretty stable, unless you're in Texas when the grid nearly crashes because it snowed. As Cooper says,
For most power utilities, customers have long-term contracts that specify prices that change only once a year or so. (Variable rate contracts [ THAT WAS TEXAS! — Dok ] do exist but they are terrible and not likely to catch on.) What's more, electric cars are vastly more energy efficient and so typically cost a lot less to operate. A recent study estimated that an electric car will have a lifetime fuel savings of about $7,750, though it will vary quite a bit depending on location and time of charging. The price of power does vary, but usually on a set schedule — it is often cheaper at night to incentivize people to spread out their power demand. With the rise of dirt-cheap solar and wind power (particularly rooftop solar owned by individuals) it will only get cheaper.
Also too, there's the foreign policy aspect of going green: Getting rid of oil means no more wars over oil. Not that any war is purely about oil, but the stability of oil prices depends a hell of a lot on keeping some very bad regimes from jacking up or cutting off oil production to fuck with the rest of the world's economies. Had there been a clean energy economy in the US in 1953, the CIA never would have bothered overthrowing the Iranian government, and there wouldn't have been a 1979 hostage crisis, and who knows, maybe no Ronald Reagan. Or maybe it's like going back in time and killing Hitler, and you always end up with Reagan.
But the main thing is: We're going to create millions and millions of jobs in the transition to green energy, and we're going to have more breathable air, less lung disease, and, for that matter, we'll even have electric cars that accelerate like stink without poisoning the planet.
Have a great Saturday, you clean energy fuckaducks. Wonkette loves you! Now, torque among yourselves. OPEN THREAD!
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