At CNN’s “Climate Crisis” town hall, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the rising star among Democratic candidates at the moment, laid out her vision for energy production in the U.S. It is so catastrophically misguided that it should disqualify her from holding the office she seeks.
At Wednesday’s town hall, Democrats tried to one-up each other with various grandiose plans to decarbonize the U.S. economy.
But it was Warren’s almost offhand remarks about domestic energy production that caught our attention.
“I think the way we get there,” she said, is to force electric utilities to stop using fossil fuels to generate electricity. “We just say, sorry, guys but by 2035, you’re done. You’re not going to be using any more carbon-based fuels. That gets us to the right place.”
Can Warren possibly be serious?
Not only does she want to eliminate oil, natural gas, and coal as energy sources, she also wants to get rid of nuclear energy – which, in case you’re wondering, emits no CO2.
Warren says, “In my administration, we’re not going to build any new nuclear power plants, and we are going to start weaning ourselves off nuclear energy and replacing it with renewable fuels. We’re going to get it all done by 2035, but I hope we’re getting it done faster than that. That’s the plan.”
To understand how completely detached this idea is from reality, let’s look at the data on energy production today, which are helpfully compiled by the Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration (EIA).
In June 2019, energy plants around the country produced a total of 352 million megawatt-hours of electricity.
Natural gas-powered plants accounted for 39% of that electricity, coal 22%, nuclear 20%.
How much did wind contribute? Less than 7%. Solar accounted for a mere 3.3%.
Even if you add in hydroelectric, which environmentalists don’t particularly like either because it involves damming rivers, these “clean” energy sources account for less than 18% of the nation’s electricity.
The EIA projects that on current trends, renewables will account for 24% of power generation by 2035 – and that’s assuming all the massive subsidies for solar and wind continue. It projects renewables’ share to have climbed to only 29% by 2050.
So how, exactly, is Warren going to shift more than three-quarters of domestic energy production over to wind and solar in less than 15 years? How would she finance it? Who would pay for the skyrocketing utility bills hitting working-class families?
Warren’s vision is even more farcical given the fact that wind and solar are unreliable sources. Today, conventional energy must fill in the gaps in power grids that rely on the vagaries of the wind and sun. What happens when that’s been outlawed and energy demand skyrockets on a hot, windless day?
There’s also the problem of finding enough land to build the turbines and lay out all the solar panels needed for such a massive conversion project. Environmentalists never bother to mention this, but renewable energy is an enormous land hog. A recent study found that solar and wind require about 100 times more land than natural gas-powered plants to produce the same amount of electricity. Biomass is even more gluttonous, requiring up to 1,000 times the land.
The study found that getting to just 80% renewables would require that 10% of all land in the Northeast be devoted to energy production needed for the region. In Vermont, the share would be 20%. In Warren’s home state of Massachusetts, up to 15% of the land would be needed.
Good luck getting that done in today’s NIMBY age. Particularly when environmentalists themselves are constantly fighting against specific solar plants and wind farms because of their adverse impacts on local ecosystems.
But here’s the really important question that must be asked: What does it say about a presidential candidate who puts forward a plan she knows will be impossible to achieve, that would cause an economic catastrophe if it were attempted, and that would do nothing to solve the “climate crisis” the planet allegedly faces?
In another age, such a candidate would be laughed off the stage as a crackpot, a charlatan, a crazed ideologue. Today, she’s treated as a serious contender to be leader of the free world.
— Written by John Merline
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