Biden pouring billions into electric public transit, undeterred by failed Obama bet on solar
The White House announced $17 million in funding from the EPA for electric zero-emission and low-emission school buses as gas prices reached a record-high last week.
Thirteen years after the Obama administration first began pouring tens of billions of dollars into solar energy subsidies that did little to increase the renewable's share in electricity generation, the Biden-Harris administration has announced over $5.5 billion in funding for low- and no-emission transit vehicles as gas prices skyrocket.
In 2009, with the enactment of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the Brookings Institution estimated over $150 billion would be spent on green initiatives, including subsidies for solar energy, over the years 2009-2014.
Yet, despite Obama's massive bet on solar, more than a decade later, in 2020, solar energy still accounted for just 2.3% of total electricity generation in the U.S., according to the Energy Information Administration. During the same year, all renewable energy sources combined represented 20% of U.S. electricity generation — compared to natural gas at 40%, nuclear at 20%, and coal at 19%.
"Our transportation sector has reached a turning point," Vice President Kamala Harris declared last week in announcing an administration initiative to "expand clean public transit and school buses, reduce emissions from dirty diesel trucks, and create good-paying jobs."
"We have the technologies to transition to a zero-emission fleet," said Harris, as the White House announced $17 million in funding from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for electric zero-emission and low-emission school buses. "Our administration together, all of us, is working to make that possibility a reality.
"We can clean our air and protect the health of our children. We can connect all our communities for affordable, accessible, and reliable public transportation. We can address the climate crisis and grow our economy at the same time."
"Vice President Kamala Harris and DOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg spent the afternoon promoting electric vehicles and Green New Deal policies," teeted Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) in response to the administration rollout of its clean transit initiative. "Are you kidding me? The Biden Administration could not be more tone deaf."
In order to meet the Biden administration's goal of net-zero emissions in the U.S. by 2050, virtually all gas-powered vehicles would have to be replaced "with cleaner electric vehicles charged largely by low-carbon power sources such as solar, wind or nuclear plants," the New York Times reported in March 2021.
Automakers would have to stop selling gas-powered vehicles by 2035, and 350 million electric vehicles would be needed by 2050, according to the article.
"Doing so would also require a massive expansion of the nation's electric grid and vast new supplies of battery materials like lithium and cobalt," the Times reported. "One possibility is that the nation reaches a tipping point: As more and more plug-in vehicles start appearing on the roads, gas stations and crude oil refineries start closing down, while auto repair shops shift to mainly servicing electric models. Eventually, it might be too much of a hassle for people to own conventional gasoline-powered cars."
MIT economist Christopher Knittel told the Times such a transition "would not shock" him.
"Right now it can be inconvenient to own an electric vehicle if there are no charging stations around," he said. "But if we do get to a world where there are charging stations everywhere and few gas stations around, suddenly it's less convenient to own a conventional vehicle."
The Daily Wire host Candace Owens on Wednesday suggested there is a connection between the transition to electric and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
"The West is attempting to rapidly divest from oil and force its citizenry into electric and they need a war to do it," she tweeted. "All of these corrupt leaders are long on electric (hence clearing the way for China to mine lithium-rich Afghanistan). The entire world is an energy map."
Andrew Wheeler, former administrator of the EPA under former President Trump, told the John Solomon Reports podcast in October that electric vehicle batteries do not currently have a clean method of disposal.
"Right now, when you trade in your old [electric vehicle] battery, most of them are just going to warehouses and sitting in warehouses until we perfect technology to dispose of them," Wheeler explained. "And those chemicals can leach into the groundwater — we're sitting on potential Superfund sites that we're creating today that are going to plague us for the next generation if we don't do something about it."
The Facts Inside Our Reporter's Notebook
- Brookings Institution estimated over $150 billion
- solar energy made up just 2.3% of total electricity
- the New York Post reported
- White House announced $17 million in funding
- highest since 2008
- record-high average of $4.17 per gallon
- Reuters reported in 2019
- The New York Times published an article
- told the John Solomon Reports podcast in October