SEARCH BLOG: MANDATES and POLITICS
In May, I wrote:
But well beyond the technical issues are the marketplace issues. For example, if the only feasible solutions for achieving 2015 mandates for CAFE are small hybrid cars or small diesel-powered cars, the government is, in effect, directing automobile manufacturers to provide a more costly, less beneficial product to its customers... and take the blame for the reduction of choices. If, for example, the automobile companies do plan for higher volumes of hybrid cars or diesel-powered cars, will the government guarantee that the supply of nickel and lanthanum needed to make the nickel-metal hydride batteries will be sufficient to cover a volume increase of 5-10 times current volumes? Will the government guarantee that a sufficient supply of clean, low-sulfur diesel fuel will be available at a price competitive with gasoline so that European diesels can be used ... presuming the government allows their use?Whether new hybrids will use nickel-metal hydride batteries or lithium ion batteries doesn't make much difference... except that lithium ion batteries guarantee that the U.S. will trade foreign oil dependence for foreign battery dependence.
That's the trouble with government mandates. All of the risk is borne by the manufacturers and none by the government.
From the Detroit Free Press:
Alexander Karsner, U.S. Department of Energy assistant secretary of energy efficiency and renewable energy, said Friday that while domestic battery supply was a concern, it shouldn't be overstated, in part because much of the research that created today's hybrid batteries originated in U.S. labs. [at U.S. taxpayer expense]
"Our challenge is to see that it is produced and deployed here so that it is available to us and our strategic interest," Karsner said. Domestic battery production "is an area that requires intensive ... consistent interest, both throughout the remainder of this administration, and into the next."
Yes, but earlier in the report, this was noted:
U.S. automakers and battery companies lobbied Congress for a provision in last year's energy bill to provide loans and loan guarantees to firms that want to set up battery production. But Congress hasn't provided any money for the loans, and appears unlikely to pass many funding bills in the remainder of its term.So Congress can mandate, but Congress can also refuse to accept any responsibility. It looks like the only guarantee coming out of this Congress is a guarantee to royally ---- things up.