Gov. Tim Walz’s mandates on electric vehicles and his push for 100% “green” energy represent a government takeover of energy, furthering an agenda of science deniers.
Make no mistake, this is an admirable goal. However, I am a lawmaker who embraces both science and reason, and these proposals are rooted in neither. Unlike many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, I am not a science denier when it comes to green energy.
Last winter, I approached hundreds of green energy demonstrators in the State Capitol rotunda and spoke to a group carrying signs demanding electric vehicles mandates. I introduced myself and thanked them for supporting the PolyMet copper-nickel mine.
Their response was that nickel mining has destroyed the environment and cannot be done safely.
Imagine their look of confusion when confronted with the fact that nickel is the No. 1 ingredient in electric car batteries — comprising 65% of its material. The Tesla Model X? Three hundred forty pounds of nickel per car. How about those electric city and school buses environmentalists love? Twelve hundred fifty pounds of nickel per battery.
What else is in lithium-ion batteries? Cobalt, lots of it. Most of it comes from the Congo, mined by 40,000 child laborers, which compassionate Minnesotans refer to as child slave labor. The half-million gallons of water needed to refine one ton of lithium takes over a year to evaporate from holding ponds. Once evaporated, these holding ponds become toxic messes.
The electric motors of these cars (and wind turbines) require special magnets made from neodymium. Mining this rare-earth material in the city of Baotou in China has created a 5.5-mile-wide toxic lake.
Minerals are mined using enormous amounts of energy to produce these products. These minerals are rare and cannot supply enough “green energy” vehicles for the planet. Pushing the start button on your electric car may give you the feeling of saving the planet, but you are, in fact, contributing to destroying the environment beyond our borders.
Over the last two decades, solar, wind and other alternative energy sources have sent manufacturing jobs overseas, where people are worked under lower environmental and labor standards. For every acre of solar panels in Minnesota, one ton of toxic silicon tetrachloride is dumped outside a Third World city.
Furthermore, the latest solar technology uses the heavy metal cadmium, a carcinogen and genotoxin known to cause inheritable mutations in children. Chemicals leach from these panels as they prematurely degrade in the freeze-thaw climate of Minnesota.
It is for this reason that I suggest a different approach: an “all of the above” energy policy. We need to use every resource we can to meet Minnesota’s energy needs. We do not want people freezing to death in the winter because wind and solar energy are not sufficient to heat their homes.
And like solar energy, renewable wind energy is neither practical nor economical for Minnesota. Most wind turbine blades are made of glass-fiber-reinforced plastic, a material susceptible to breaking in cold weather and high winds. Wind turbine blades also have a short life span and virtually no useful byproduct or recycling need. Hundreds of blades are thrown in landfills and states are now banning disposal of these nonrenewable products.
Government subsidies to wind and solar projects mask their economic and environmental failure. More energy goes into mining, manufacturing, transporting, installing, maintaining and dismantling them than will be produced from them.
If we truly want a clean future for our children, we must stop denying the scientific reality of the “green energy” supply chain. America should continue to improve energy’s environmental impact, but not by poisoning the soil for false promises toward cleaner air.
The oil lobby has been replaced with the green energy lobby — equally greedy and woefully hypocritical. If we want nickel for electric car batteries, we should mine it here under the strictest environmental standards. If it cannot be mined safely, then we have no business mandating these products.
Democrats are always quick to shame fossil fuel extraction and transportation, yet they fail to see the dreadful impact of their own energy policies.
Jeremy Munson, R-Lake Crystal, is a member of the Minnesota House.