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Why California’s climate disclosure law should doom green energy

Why California’s climate disclosure law should doom green energy


California prides itself for being a leader with respect to tackling climate change.  This is because they believe, albeit on shaky scientific grounds, that their citizens “already” face devastating consequences inflicted on them by manmade global warming – including wildfires, sea level rise, drought, climate refugees, and other impacts that “threaten their health and safety”.

Thus, to lower their state’s carbon footprint, the legislature recently passed a law requiring all companies doing over $1 billion in business within California to “publicly disclose” (by 2026) all their “direct” greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions stemming from fuel combustion they utilize, as well as all “indirect” GHG emissions derived from the electricity, heating and cooling they consume.

By 2027, they must also disclose “indirect upstream and downstream” GHGs emitted by sources that they do not own or directly control, but from which they purchase goods and services, including GHG emissions associated with the “processing and use of sold products.”

This certainly appears to cover almost every mega-scale entity doing business in the once-Golden State.  And it might help those who fret about climate change sleep better at night.  But will it actually lower the planet’s greenhouse gas emissions?

The simple answer is “no”.  Let me explain.

Since only “zero-emission” vehicles can be sold in California by 2035, and the state must have 100% “clean” electricity by 2045, the new disclosure mandates should (at least in theory) cover GHG emissions associated with “upstream” operations required for processing raw materials, manufacturing new energy generation and use technologies, and transporting “clean energy” equipment sold to or used in California.

The new mandates should also cover wind turbines, solar panels, electric vehicle batteries, grid-scale backup batteries, transformers, expanded and enhanced transmission lines, and other equipment associated with California’s emerging “clean, green, renewable, sustainable” economy.

And they absolutely should also cover the extraction, processing, refining and other activities required to obtain the nonrenewable metals, minerals, concrete, plastics, paints, other materials – and fuels – needed to manufacture and install those technologies.

The billion-dollar utility companies that buy and use all this equipment should absolutely be required to catalog and publicly disclose all emissions associated with these “clean” technologies.

If such an inventory is accurately taken, and that is admittedly a bit “if”, it won’t paint a pretty picture for those touting renewables, Green building construction, and EV transportation “fixes”.

The International Energy Agency and other experts report that electric vehicles have six times more metals by weight than internal combustion counterparts. Photovoltaic solar panels require six times more metals and minerals (other than steel and aluminum) per megawatt than a combined-cycle gas turbine that generates electricity pretty much 24/7/365; they also require at least 100 times more land area.

Weather dependent, intermittent onshore wind turbines need 9-10 times more than a CCGT, and offshore wind turbines require fourteen times more raw materials. Putting 850-foot-tall wind turbines in California’s deep ocean waters would require mounting them on floating platforms big enough to prevent them from capsizing in storms; that would likely mean 40 times more materials.

For every 100,000 tons of copper (enough for 2,275 gigantic 12-MW offshore wind turbines), companies would have to blast and extract nearly 60,000,000 tons of ore and overlying rock, and then use heat and chemicals to process almost 23,000,000 tons of ore. Every step involves fossil fuels.

Nickel for powerful nickel-cobalt-aluminum and nickel-manganese-cobalt EV batteries is found largely in Indonesia, where companies mine the ore using diesel-powered equipment and send it to smelters fueled by coal. Once fully operational, a single nickel-processing industrial park in eastern Indonesia will burn more coal per year than Brazil.