Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s energy policies could have a devastating impact on Michigan that could potentially destroy 160,000 energy sector jobs, decimate the auto industry, impede manufacturing operations, increase home heating expenses, and create California-style rolling blackouts in the Great Lakes State.
Biden’s proposal to eliminate fracking, “transition from the oil industry,” and achieve “zero emissions” by 2035 would adversely impact nearly every sector of Michigan’s economy, starting with the jobs directly related to the oil and gas industry.
The oil and natural gas industry supports over 159,100 jobs in Michigan, according to a 2017 study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and commissioned by the American Petroleum Institute.
“The supply chain for energy in this country exists in all 50 states,” Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) told Breitbart News. “Michigan is a major equipment and infrastructure state in support of the energy industry.”
Collectively Michigan’s energy sector generates over $8.2 billion in wages and contributes nearly $14.6 billion to the state’s economy. These jobs encompass everything from petroleum engineers and environmental experts to rig hands, truck drivers, caterers, and contractors.
In fact, Michigan’s burgeoning natural gas industry has become a vitally important sector of the state’s economy. “Michigan is number one in the nation for natural gas storage capacity, with 1.1 trillion cubic feet of underground storage — over a tenth of overall U.S. capacity,” the Mackinac Center for Public Policy reports.
Biden’s “transition” from natural gas could give Michigan California-style rolling blackouts at California prices.
Banning or phasing out fracking would decimate natural gas production and increase energy costs for Michigan households. Nearly 75 percent of homes in Michigan are heated with natural gas, and the cold weather state is among the top five in the U.S. for natural gas usage. The “dispatchability” of natural gas – which allows it to be stockpiled in the summer and dispatched in the winter when it is needed – has kept the price of home heating stable even during cold months.
Biden’s policies would threaten this energy stability because he has embraced a version of the Green New Deal that calls for 100 percent renewable electricity generation by 2035. This would shift the nation’s use of reliable “dispatchable” energy sources like natural gas to unreliable “non-dispatchable” sources like wind and solar, which cannot be controlled because they are contingent on the time of day, cloud coverage, and wind currents to generate electricity.
“No one is going to build another oil or gas-fired electric plant,” Biden said in an interview Monday with Pod Save America. “They’re going to build one that is fired by renewable energy.”
To see what a 100 percent renewable energy grid would look like, we need only observe California. The Golden State adopted similar “green” goals for 100 percent renewable energy and has since suffered perennial rolling blackouts due in part to the state’s reliance on wind and solar energy. California’s Democratic Gov. Gavin Newson recently admitted that his state needs a “backup” plan for energy because blackouts caused by lack of wind and overcast skies have shown the danger of relying solely on “green” energy. One can only imagine how a cold weather state like Michigan will fare with a 100 renewable power grid when even sunny breezy California can’t keep the lights on.
This transition to unreliable and unaffordable energy sources is fraught with peril not only for Michigan consumers, but also for Michigan’s world-renowned manufacturing sector. The cornerstone of every thriving manufacturing economy is access to affordable and reliable energy. As noted, renewable “green” energy (with the possible exception of hydroelectricity) is non-dispatchable, unreliable, and inaccessible in some geographic locales.
California’s power outages prove that “you cannot make your grid dependent on intermittent sources of energy,” Cramer stated. Such a plan will lead to rolling blackouts in Michigan just like it has in California, the North Dakota senator said.
“As bad as the California blackouts rolling blackouts are, it’s much worse in a polar vortex situation,” he noted.
“Michigan’s a cold weather state that relies 75 percent on natural gas for home heating. Well, take those rolling blackouts and apply them to a low zero week in Michigan,” Cramer explained. “If you have a bunch of electric generators that require natural gas but you don’t have enough natural gas to keep them going [and] keep all your manufacturing plants going at the same time while there’s also a huge demand for home heating, that means … somebody has to curtail their use of natural gas. So, you may avoid rolling blackouts, but you’ll have rolling results. That’s what happens when you have a polar vortex in the Midwest when you don’t have an adequate supply of the fuel source.”
Biden’s all-electric future will wipe out millions of American auto sector jobs and send the rest to China.
Biden’s Green New Deal-like policies would not only hamstring Michigan manufacturing, but also potentially eliminate tens of thousands of Michigan’s auto sector jobs. That’s because Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal calls for the elimination of the internal combustion engine and its replacement with “zero-emission” battery electric vehicles (EV). Biden has adopted similar goals for transitioning to an all-electric vehicle market.
These transportation mandates, coupled with Biden’s 100 percent renewable policies, will impact nearly every sector of the economy and every region of the country–especially Michigan. An estimated 7 million Americans work in the automotive industry and earn a living from manufacturing, selling, or servicing cars and trucks. The abolishment of the internal combustion engine, which still powers the majority of vehicles, will impact these Americans the most.
The auto industry is already experiencing the disruption caused by an industry-wide transition from internal combustion engine vehicles to electric and autonomous vehicles. Climate change politics in North America and Europe and energy policies in Asia have pushed the industry towards electric as the future of automation, despite consumer preferences in the U.S. and Europe for large gas-powered vehicles.
The biggest winner in this push for an all-electric future is China, which is eager for the transition to EV because the communist regime does not have the same access to plentiful oil and gas as American consumers. In fact, the Chinese Communist Party has made dominance of the EV industry a key goal in its ambitious China 2025 initiative, hoping to overtake Detroit as the world’s automotive capital.
Indeed, China is positioning itself to do just that. Companies like Ford and General Motors have partnered with Chinese state-owned companies to develop and manufacture new electric vehicles in Asia. Ford has 16 new electric models coming out of China in the next few years, and GM intends to launch 20 electric models in China by 2023.
To be fair, the entire worldwide auto industry seems eager for an all-electric future. Nearly all of the world’s auto manufacturers are investing heavily in EV. There’s a reason for this, and it has less to do with the environment and more to do with the industry’s bottom line.
When you eliminate the internal combustion engine, you eliminate hundreds of components that comprise it. This will dramatically change the landscape of the automotive industry for millions of parts suppliers, engineers, mechanics, and countless blue-collar workers. That’s because the average electric vehicle deletes over 300 components. The fuel-powered vehicle’s engine, transmission, gas tank, radiator, hoses, pumps, starter motor, mounting brackets, etc. will all become obsolete.
This will dramatically reduce the amount of money it costs to produce a vehicle, but it will also reduce the number of blue-collar workers all along the supply chain needed to create those parts and assemble the finished product. However, the sticker price of the electric vehicle will not be reduced. These vehicles will be just as expensive for consumers as gas-powered vehicles even though they cost less to manufacture. In other words, EVs will be a cash cow for the big auto companies, but will not necessarily benefit American workers, American consumers (who are still skeptical of EVs), or even the American environment which relies on a fossil fuel-based power grid to charge EV batteries.
Many of Michigan’s blue-collar union auto workers are aware of this. In an op-ed in the Detroit News last year, a Michigan-based UAW member wrote:
GM and the other big auto companies want to make a full switch to electric vehicles, which would allow them to slash union jobs. As any autoworker can tell you, combustion engines are difficult to build, requiring more manpower and skill than electric motors. That’s why auto workers earn such good wages: It’s not easy to engineer a controlled explosion under the hood of a car.
Battery-powered engines, conversely, are less difficult to produce and require less skilled labor to install. That means companies can make the same number of cars with fewer workers, and can pay those workers lower wages than the specialized employees needed to produce combustion engines.
Biden’s policies would accelerate this transition “to slash union jobs” by eliminating the skilled workers who engineer this “controlled explosion under the hood.” These Michigan workers have made the Motor City the envy of the industrial world for over a century. Many of them are now worried that the future of their industry will be controlled by China if a Biden administration comes into power and allows China to dominate the electric vehicle industry.
Biden’s policies will help China replace the Motor City as the world’s automotive capital.
This fear is not unfounded when one recalls all the American auto companies China acquired during the Obama-Biden years.
Consider, for example, China’s controversial acquisition of the Michigan-based electric battery company A123 Systems. In 2008, the company was awarded a $12.5 million grant sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy to develop lithium ion battery technology for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. But now this American taxpayer-funded research is owned by China, thanks to the Obama-Biden administration’s approval of the company’s sale in 2013.
In 2016, China purchased the electric vehicle company Fisker Automotive, after U.S. taxpayers had spent $193 million funding the company’s electric vehicle research. Fisker was based in Biden’s home state of Delaware and it benefitted from a “fog of politically connected investors and lobbyists,” according to the Washington Post. The Obama-Biden administration approved China’s purchase of Fisker, again despite all the money American taxpayers spent funding the company’s research.
In 2015, the private equity firm of Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, partnered with a Chinese military contractor to acquire Henniges Automotive, another Michigan-based company. Henniges created dual-use military technology that China’s communist regime wanted. Despite all the red-flags that this sensitive technology would end up in the hands of China’s military, the Obama-Biden administration approved the company’s sale.
Leaving aside the former administration’s gross negligence in handing over American taxpayer-funded research to our enemies, Biden’s energy policies would be disastrous for American auto workers because he does not recognized China as a threat or understand how to fight or win a trade war to protect American jobs.
A Biden-led administration’s rapid push towards an all-electric future would rob U.S. autoworkers of the advantage of experience and U.S. auto plants of the advantage of previously built manufacturing capacity. Biden’s rapid push towards EV would tempt American automakers to train workers in China and invest in new plants there — a temptation that would likely be fostered by almost unlimited state subsidies from the Chinese regime and one-way trade barriers that make it easier to sell cars in the U.S. and China if they are made in China. Given time and a Trump administration’s protections of U.S. manufacturing, U.S. automakers could be incentivized to train American workers to build EVs and invest in U.S. capacity. Rushed and without tariffs, most of this will likely end up in China — just like all the rest of American manufacturing thanks to decades of failed trade policies like Joe Biden’s.
None of this really helps the environment.
And, as noted, any environmental benefit gained from Biden’s EV push is nullified by the need to charge them on the existing fossil fuel-based power grid, not to mention the environmental problems associated with mining the minerals needed to make electric batteries and the unresolved issue of how to safely recycle these batteries.
Simply put, EVs are not “zero emission” vehicles. They are powered by our fossil fuel burning electric grid.
“They’re not reducing any carbon footprint with electric vehicles. They’re just trading for a longer tail pipe,” one auto industry insider from Michigan told Breitbart News. “They’re going to end up polluting more to charge these batteries, all the while pretending like they’re saving the environment. They’re wiping out countless jobs just so the right people can get rich. And the right people are all tied to China — because guess what they don’t have in China? Our oil reserves.”
Taken as a whole, Biden’s energy policies would replace America’s reliable fossil fuel-based energy infrastructure with an unreliable renewal energy grid that is vulnerable to rolling blackouts. And at the same time, his policies would also dramatically increase the strain on our power grid from all the electric vehicles that will need to be plugged in to be recharged.
“The bottom line is this is the United States of America and consumers ought to have a choice, particularly when they have an abundance of something,” Cramer said, noting that the U.S. has an abundance of “oil and natural gas and nuclear and coal to provide both electricity and fuels for automobiles and trucking.”
“We’re 20 percent of the world’s economy and one of the leading indicators of that is our energy sector,” Cramer argued. “We shouldn’t be apologizing for it; we should be tapping it. And we should be looking for every way imaginable to take advantage of the low costs of fuels and then the ability to manufacture more things at a lower cost, providing high quality jobs and then export products for export markets.”
Rebecca Mansour is a Senior Editor-at-Large for Breitbart News and a proud native of Metro Detroit. Follow her on Twitter at @RAMansour.