By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
The Sacramento Hummingbird Effect: Bold initiatives, no thought to details, side effects
Dennis Wyatt RGB
Dennis Wyatt

Rotten Robbie’s wants to add to the number of gas stations in Manteca.

That’s all fine and good but how does it square with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s edict that when 2035 rolls around it will be illegal to sell any vehicle powered by fossil fuel in California?

In less than 14 years, the demand for gas stations will start declining.

While that is not a good enough reason to block someone from spending a considerable amount of money to open a business that has a state-imposed death sentence hanging over it, you’ve got to wonder if Sacramento is ever going to abandon its humming bird approach to major initiatives zipping from one to another without first exploring the nitty gritty details.

There will be a point in the not too distance future that building new gas stations needs to virtually take an act of the California Legislature. That’s because there is no guarantee that smaller private sector firms or property owners that are involved with gas stations will be in a position to remove underground tanks once the business collapses.

It obviously will take a number of years beyond 2035 before the current gas station business model collapses.

No law — at least not yet — bans the resale of existing fossil fuel powered vehicles. But there will come a point where diminishing returns will hasten people to literally abandon “older” gas-powered vehicles sold before 2035. That’s because gas stations will start dropping like flies as the number of gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles on the road drop off.

There is also the issue of whether the state should create zones within California where gas powered vehicles could continue to be sold after 2035 as long as they are to a resident of that area. Places that would make sense are snow country and remote areas such as the high desert where conditions are not opportune for recharging cars.

But then again given Massachusetts last week joined California and New Jersey in banning the sale of new vehicles that are fossil fueled starting in 2035, there may not be very many manufacturers of gas-powered vehicles left in 14 years.

The myopic approach to major initiatives — the Delta tunnel, high speed rail, and the ban on fossil fueled new vehicle sales starting in 2035 — simply focuses on one goal without any official weight given to other things it impacts or the ripple effects the decisions make.

The gas-powered car ban has never addressed how someone snowed in living in places like the Truckee area when the power is out will be able to charge their vehicle if they need to take care of vital needs such as get to the hospital. People residing in remote areas have been known to keep a couple extra gas cans filled with fuel around for such an occasion or even have an above ground fuel tank.

The tunnel justification is built solely around assuring Los Angeles’ water supplies are intact and need little additional treatment without much thought given to the ecological damage to the Delta, the devastation to Delta agriculture, or what saltwater intrusion would do to aquifers that cities like Tracy, Stockton, Lathrop, and Manteca rely on.

And then there’s the high-speed rail.

Its bigger justification was to reduce emissions.

But by the time it actually gets from Los Angeles to San Francisco, you probably won’t even be able to find a fossil powered vehicle on a used car lot.

Think about it for a second. The same governor who on the strength of a Tweet 2,733 miles away backtracked on his bold pronouncement two years ago advocating transforming the high-speed rail project into basically a hybrid heavy rail endeavor when the segment between Merced and Bakersfield is completed is the same one that issued the edict to make it illegal to sell fossil fuels vehicles starting in 2035 in the Golden State.

It is also the same governor who bypassed the opportunity to do some heavy lifting and force the conversion of PG&E’s electrical system into publicly owned entities.

These are not two points that can be dismissed.

First if the driving justification for high-speed rail is cleaning up the air by reducing trips between Los Angeles and San Francisco in vehicles with internal combustion engines, then why do we need high speed rail when we now have the 2035 edict regarding cars?

The second point is even more damning.

This past year we had a peak power problem even things we have not seen a huge jump in electricity consumption since the days of PG&E Bankruptcy No. 1 when we got to enjoy rolling brownouts due to PG&E greed. That compares with blackouts for three to five days to prevent PG&E from burning its customers out of their houses due to the PG&E way that diverted rate hikes for system upgrades over the years to pad its profits.

In fairness to PG&E, part of the problem for the power crunch in 2019 was the state mandate on a higher percentage of power to be generated by green sources which excludes natural gas.

So, what happens when there are 30 million plus vehicles in California being recharged plus a high-speed rail train that needs electricity? That is in addition to power for other things such as homes, businesses, factories, schools, and hospitals.

And let’s not forget the growing number of jurisdictions that are moving to ban the use of natural gas in new construction whether it is for heating systems or appliances such as stoves.

Then there is the 900-pound gorilla that no so-called progressive that embraces the death sentence on fossil fuels.

Given natural gas is significantly less expensive to heat a house and electric cars are more expensive than gas-powered, what does that do to the poor in California?

Slice and dice it all you want but used vehicles that are gas powered today start as low as $15,000 new as opposed to the cheapest electric car is $32,000. That means they will be significantly higher on the resale market. Worse yet, batteries over the years lose charging capacity. While it may cost only $8,000 or so to replace the smallest batteries with that price likely dropping in to decades, it will still be out of the range of a lot of people.

But why sweat the details?

Hummingbirds don’t.

They just dazzle their audiences while going from here to there.