The Long and Winding Road to Net Zero

by Bill O’Keefe

State law, embodied in SB 851, requires Dominion Energy to supply 30% percent of its power from renewable energy sources by 2030 and to close all carbon-emitting power plants by 2045. In other words, Dominion must develop a plan to be emission free by 2045, less than 25 years from now.

The preeminent energy historian and author, Daniel Yergin, has just published The New Map: Energy, Climate, and the Clash of Nations. Not only does he address the geopolitics of energy but he addresses the challenges of transitioning from an energy budget that is 80% oil, gas, and coal to one that has net zero emissions.

The history of energy transitions shows that they do not happen quickly,  according to Yergin. The movement from wood to the dominance of coal took 200 years and it took another 100 years for oil to replace coal as our dominant energy source. Of course, those transitions did not involve the incentives created by government policies and funding, political activism, and the push for new energy technologies. The use of industrial policy to bring about this transition sooner may succeed but right now it is a triumph of hope over experience. During the time when the first oil embargo created economic havoc, the administrations of Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter invested heavily to bring about alternatives to oil. All they achieved was a waste of billions of dollars.

Industrial policy — government efforts using policy and funds to move an industry to a desired outcome — is an example of “fatal conceit.” History demonstrates that technological change is not a cleanly plannable undertaking. Legislatures that engage in such technology forcing are simply engaged in Baptist and Bootlegger activities. The one thing that is absolutely certain is stimulation of more crony capitalism and a waste of resources.

According to Yergin, “meeting the goal of net carbon zero — a proxy for the 2045 Dominion goal — will require breakthroughs and innovations in chemistry, physics, and materials science, as well as advances in carbon capture, hydrogen fuel, artificial intelligence robotics, software data analytics, and other technologies.” While Yergin was referring to achievement of a national goal, the challenges identified apply also at the firm level.

The crisis mentality that led to the General Assembly action ignored four important points. First, the United States has been making steady progress in reducing CO2 emissions. Since peaking in 2005, they have steadily declined from 5.9 million metric tons to 5.1 in 2019.

Second, and more important, according to Jesse Usabel of Rockefeller University the world has been decarbonizing for over a century—from wood to whale oil to coal to oil to natural gas. The next phase will be hydrogen whenever it comes.

Third, technology forcing has proven to be a fool’s errand. The notion that government knows enough to pick a target and far off date is seductively appealing the evidence suggests that it should be avoided because failure is virtually guaranteed.

Finally, since CO2 emissions are global, what happens globally is more important than what we do domestically. Asian and African nations are burning coal to raise their standards of living and China in particular has plans to build 200 to 300 coal-fired plants over the next 12 years. Ironically, 50% of the world’s electric vehicles are in China, which is building these plants, at least in part, to charge their zero-emission vehicles.

It would make more sense for Dominion to pick a five- and 10-year goal to strive for while holding utility rates constant when adjusted for inflation. Such an approach would send a message that Virginia is committed to be one of the best, if not the best for business to invest here. The late Secretary of Energy, Defense, and CIA director James Schlesinger termed such an approach as Lewis and Clark planning. When there is a great deal of uncertainty it is better to pick near-term goals, gather new information, and then adjust the goals.

Thomas Jefferson sent Lewis and Clark to discover the west after the Louisiana Purchase. Why not let their philosophy and Jefferson’s passion for science guide the Commonwealth’s energy future?

William O’Keefe, a Midlothian resident, is founder of Solutions Consulting and former EVP American Petroleum Institute.

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74 responses to “The Long and Winding Road to Net Zero”

  1. LarrytheG Avatar

    I think a mentality that technology only moves at a set speed and we cannot affect it is not true though. Neccessity is true the mother of invention.

    Happened all through hstory. We beat the Germans and Japanese in WWII because of urgent pursuit of technological improvements.

    Kids were being seriously harmed by lead in gasoline and we found a way.

    Cities were chocking in smog and we found a way to change how the internal combustion engine worked.

    Rivers below cities were virtual cesspools

    Next, a “goal” is not a statement that we do it or else, it’s a goal – and it was a goal in all those breakthroughs that happened before.

    No, we have not cleaned up the cities 1100% but we have made great strides and are continuing.

    What kind of technology can happen in 25 years in the age of computers? A lot more than could happen before them.

    Can we find a way to build cars that run on electricity?

    Can we find a way to build more solar and wind so that we “burn” it instead of gas ?

    Can we actually right now today, put solar on roofs and power walls in the garage and basement? We can. Can we make it more cost-effective? What is our track record on making technology more cost-effective?

    How about a way to “store” solar via hydrogen that is then burned onsite in hydrogen-burning plants that power the grid? In other words, no hydrogen infrastructure. You make it onsite right next to where power goes into the grid?

    Nuclear Plant technology in use is 50+ years old. Are we powerless to make them smaller and safer so they don’t need 50-mile zones around them?

    The basic argument seems to be that technology cannot be “rushed” and will proceed at a certain pace no matter what we do.

    That’s simply not the case. We set goals and even though we don’t meet them 100%, we make huge strides that result in tremendous change.

    The reality is that we may be one brakethrough away from meeting that goal before 45 years and we look back and wonder what the arguments were about the same way now that we look back at the Clean Air and Water acts (which people opposed back then as unreasonable).

    We actually do have a pretty successful record of setting goals and achieving them. Our real problem is many do not believe that we have a problem that necessitates it. We disagree about the NEED for the goal which if folks remember was the argument against taking lead out of gas or clenaer burning combustion enginees, or cleaning up the rivers. It has always been portrayed by the “anti” folks as pitting the economy against the environment.

  2. Eric the Half a Troll Avatar
    Eric the Half a Troll

    “The movement from wood to the dominance of coal took 200 years and it took another 100 years for oil to replace coal as our dominant energy source.”

    So 50 years to gas… check…. (maybe a little behind actually) and another 25 to zero carbon… sounds like 2045 to me…

  3. Baconator with extra cheese Avatar
    Baconator with extra cheese

    Even if there is a miraculous breakthrough in generation, how does a city like RVA or Petersburg changeout every HVAC system from gas/oil to electric in that timeframe? These cities can’t build or maintain schools and yet they are going to retrofit every city building? Not to mention every dumptruck, firetruck, cop car, backhoe, ambulance, lawn mower, etc.? And who pays for all of that?
    And what about the heat in the north where heat pumps are super inefficient below say 25-30 degrees? Will they go to electic heaters that “guzzle” electricity putting huge strains on a solar system where the sun isn’t shining… north… less day light…not the optimal angle of the sun… etc..?
    What may happen is so many people will start burning wood in the winter that we’re back to 1900 air quality.

    1. idiocracy Avatar

      The reason many heatpumps don’t work well below 25-30 degrees has less to do with the heatpump and more to do with the poorly-built shacks they’re installed in. Seriously, the workmanship of some of the houses I’ve seen in Virginia makes me wonder if the construction crew was even potty-trained. But when you find beer cans in the walls, you can draw some conclusions about the caliber of worker that built the place.

      1. Baconator with extra cheese Avatar
        Baconator with extra cheese

        And for those who don’t know. Fiberglass insulation requires mined minerals. So if we’re going all in energy efficinecy, which I whole heartedly support, we will need to accept some mining…. and the environmental permits… and potential environmental justice concerns that come with it.
        It’s all very very complicated….. not just some magically technology will bail us out.

        1. idiocracy Avatar

          I had cellulose insulation put into the attic of my house. The most worthy use of the Washington Post is to get shredded up and used to save energy in a house.

  4. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
    Dick Hall-Sizemore

    John Kennedy proposed to Congress on May 25, 1961 that the nation set a goal of getting to the moon by the end of the decade. That was barely three weeks after Alan Shepard had made the first sub-orbital flight. The United States met that goal.

    The argument that the transition from coal to oil as the dominant energy source did not involve “the incentives created by government policies and funding, political activism, and the push for new energy technologies” ignores the creation of tax subsidies for the oil industry, the construction of an interstate highway system with public funds, and other incentives.

    1. Steve Haner Avatar
      Steve Haner

      Yeah, but my Dad was at Edwards working on the missile test site where they were testing Saturn V engines, even then, 1961. Kennedy’s speech was not the actual starting point. But it was a fast program, no question. Our Germans were smarter than their Germans.

  5. Markets are nothing if not effective at solving challenges and innovating around constraints — I’m cautiously optimistic that energy storage challenges will be solved in a timely fashion, whether through H2 or improvements in energy density.

    My bigger concern is that policymakers will optimize emissions regulation to appeal to specific aesthetic sensibilities; i.e. heavily subsidizing alternative generation sources to ultimately reduce global temperature increases when something like stratospheric aerosol injections looks to be more cost-effective (for that *specific* problem) by orders of magnitude. Solar generation just feels right; geoengineering just feels weird.

  6. Nancy_Naive Avatar

    California bans ICE in 2035.

  7. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    Net zero is not zero. Net zero is a campaign dodge, a slogan….If you really drink this poisonous Kool-Aid, you must push for real zero, including significant restraints on population (since we’re all exhaling CO2 right now through our porous masks….and much of the CO2 come from food production.)

    1. Matt Adams Avatar

      No more beef, milk or diary products either. Bessy was shot because she “tooted” too much.

      1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

        Just watched a documentary on this
        combine with petri dish “meat”…

        Now do little critters fart?

        1. Matt Adams Avatar

          I’ll pass, that’s beyond GMO’s.

          I’m pretty sure they give off “gas” doing their work, they do in my gut and yours.

          Yeast and bacteria should only ever be used in making alcohol.

          1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

            Ah, but both! I realize there are some physical issues with freezing temperatures, but can you imagine a milkshake with a kick like a triple martini?

            Medicinal ice cream.

          2. Matt Adams Avatar

            I believe in 2016 I was in Cleveland for work. Red Robin was my weekly treat (else I would just cook in my hotel room). They had a Guinness milk shake. It was worth every penny.

            Guinness and Jameson with some ice and ice cream, and yes completely medicinal.

  8. As far as business friendliness, liberals will not tolerate “dirty” industry (or people) at this point. Dirty industry needs to go to Red states or China and Mexico. So Tennessee seems to be eating our lunch. We Virginia are content to have what business we can get from the Federal gov’t and add some state gov’t mandates on renewables to create jobs.

    When we lived in NJ, the elected officials actually wrote articles in business journals about how electricity was one industry that the state could force to happen to improve the economy. The State is the judge, jury and executioner on utility projects. We create the request, and fulfill that request by speeding permit approvals. We don’t have to wait around for an auto plant to decide move here or anything like that.

    In Michael Moore presents Planet of the Humans, one young activist states the apparent common belief, that *ALL* combustion must be stopped. Which is nuts, but we are in a phase of chemophobic extremism in our Country. No combustion, means, among other things, all trash incineration on the East Coast must be banned. I am expecting a bumper crop of trash in-hauls to Virginia. We can be No. 1 on trash in-hauls to make huge landfills!

    Now there’s some old-fashioned Virginia business friendliness for all you nay-sayers.

    Part of the answer is to educate the public when there are misconceptions. Part of the answer is, Democrats hate fossil fuels since about 1968 have been trying to destroy the industry. So if Dems are in charge, they want to assume there is no greater crime against humanity than fossil fuels.

    This is element that the Moore documentary missed. Simple preference for not having a fossil fuel industry by the Dems, regardless of possible negative impact of Dem policies on the environment, and cost.

    1. Clarification- Democrats hate the oil and gas industry since 1968. Dems absolutely loved coal-based utilities until about 2010 or thereabouts. Virginia’s hybrid coal plant was touted as extreme green by then Gov Kaine…so that newest Va. coal plant marks the end of the Democrat love of coal era – and good riddance as I fought (NJ) Dems on that. Now Dems are a million miles left of me.

    2. Steve Haner Avatar
      Steve Haner

      Why do you think the idea of a “trash tax” has resurfaced? Mucho dinero….Yes, with a ban on incineration and with other countries accepting less exported trash (excuse me, recycling!), the landfills will grow.

      On the coal front, read this: Sometimes Ivy and I are right on the beam together.

      1. Also, what is happening to all that Virginia coal ash that we decided to excavate at great cost to the environment as well as pocketbook? Well, Virginia is bullish on making landfills to give the host communities the dumping money: Your Trash is our Cash! I just have to guess that’s what is happening. I am resolved that is top secret how that activity is going, as well as possible off-shore structure troubles due to hurricanes etc. Release of any negative info would be an act of treason.

        1. PS- That’s incredible by Ivy, I hate to say that I said same thing Ivy’s article on the same day…I had not seen her take on it.

          What I would say is liberals have arse-backwards sense of eco stewardship. For liberals, 70% coal-based power was not enough coal. But they have intense hatred for more advanced clean power like natural gas. Similar on trash, liberals love landfills, but hate refuse-derived energy, which is not only the more advanced civilized engineering approach, it is conceivable an excellent renewable power option. I could go on….

          OK I go on, one more thing, liberals think fossil fuels should be left in the ground, but they see as terrible crime against humanity putting waste plastics in their darn landfills. Why not sequester the carbon? Hotdogs last forveer in a landfill too…so the plastics have good company and some food. Mind you, I hate trash landfills, if you want to know what I hate.


    Above Fascinating-
    Michael Moore this week on the recent disclosure of attempt by enviro community to take down his YouTube “Planet of the Humans”

    I am not on exact same page as Michael Moore, but I was also doing community recycling back on the first Earth Day. Like Michael I am concerned about the environment but I have a different perspective than he does.

    both of us criminally blasphemous however

  10. Bill O'Keefe Avatar
    Bill O’Keefe

    I think that there is a lot of misunderstanding about my blog. First, the history of energy transitions shows that they are not rapid. In the case of the internal combustion engine, there are aver 280 vehicles in the US, most of which run on gasoline or diesel. They have a turnover rate of at least 10 years. It will take time to turnover that fleet even if a cost competitive alternative existed today.
    Electric vehicles may be the future but right now they are expensive and have limited range, especially in very hot or very cold weather. There is a reason why most are in California. Take away the big subsidies and the demand drops significantly.
    Coal is not being replaced because of government action but because of the boom in low cost natural gas. That is how transitions usually occur. A substitute comes along that is less costly and has desirable attributes.
    The government can best get the technology it wants when it is the consumer. Experience shows that when it tries to pick winners, there are a lot of undesirable consequences and hidden costs.
    The examples that Larry G cites are all ones where the know how was either known or not that difficult to develop.
    A lot of technology isn’t planned but is the result of serendipity. DOD developed the internet for its communication but it has radically changed our economy and the way we live.
    Lastly, solar and wind have their place but their place is not unlimited. The rush to replace other sources of electricity involves large costs–look at California–and problems of grid security and reliability. And, suppose the US was able to replace all other forms of electricity, except nuclear and hydro, in 25 years, would CO2 atmospheric concentrations be significantly lower when other countries are using massive amounts of coal? I don’t know the answer but I am willing to bet that they won’t be. In the mean time, there are things that we know how to do to protect against the effects of drought and sea level rise. That is why I support the Lewis and Clark approach to planning our energy future.

    1. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
      Reed Fawell 3rd

      Your post. Bill, is spot on. Most of those who don’t get it, simply don’t want to get it, because it is a variance from their religion, so they never will get it. Group think is the opposite of rational thought built on hard earned experience in the real world.

    2. If we give big enough subsidies and free HOV to electric vehicles, they are cheap. For example, I just bought an un-subsidized RAV4 hybrid for $28k.

      Soon, if not already you can get RAV4 plug-in Hybrid for $38-$40k. In Ca. you will get free HOV + $7500 Fed Credit + several thousand state tax credit. In Colorado, the state tax credit is about $5000, so plug-ins are are cheap wheels for a luxury car.

      Right now in Virginia/NoVA, instead of state tax subsidy we tax the heck out of more expensive cars (annually!) so the math is not quite as favorable. But we are a blue state now. As you observe above, elected officials of the blue side and utilities want to force the future to electrification right now with big subsidies.

      1. Bill O'Keefe Avatar
        Bill O’Keefe

        These things aren’t free. The subsidies represent legalized stealing where money is taken from most taxpayers and given to a few who buy the government’s preferred vehicles. The cost of free access to HOV lanes etc has to be borne by someone. It’s the taxpayers or payers of tolls.

  11. Nancy_Naive Avatar

    In my opinion some target regulations have proven beneficial in that it stimulates research and just outright thinking. Problems to solve. Did the CAFE standards contribute to better cars? I don’t know.

    It certainly made them more complex, but hey, over the last 50 years, I’ve bought cars that last longer, run better, and use less and less fuel. With the exception of one vehicle, an 11-year old F150 that Dad foisted on me when they moved, they’ve all been 4-bangers with engines that have been between 1300cc to 2.2L. They’ve gotten incrementally faster and better open road mileage.
    1964.5 VW bug 1300cc 40HP 20MPG
    1971 Pinto 1600cc 65HP 20 MPG
    1979 Scirroco 1900cc 85HP 25 MPG
    1987 Accord 2L 100HP 30 MPG
    2000 Saturn 2.2L 130Hp 35 MPG (niece owns it now)
    2019 Impreza 2L 160HP 40 MPG.

    The Impreza is a bullet compared to all of the others, too. No sweat making 100MPH with RPM to spare and 0-60 in 7 sec. I’m gonna rack up some tickets, I just know it.

    1. James Wyatt Whitehead V Avatar
      James Wyatt Whitehead V

      Scirroco’s are cool. Amazing how much torque comes out of that VW motor.

      1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

        I loved that car, but VW made a huge mistake. It was the same engine as the Rabbit and weighed in 4-500 lbs more, so… but at 65MPH in 4th it was ticking 3500RPM right on the max torque. If some guy cruising in a 240Z thought he could out accelerate, he had another think coming. But it peaked at 95, you were near red line and the engine just started flattening.

        1. idiocracy Avatar

          Sounds like it needed a 5-speed.

          1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

            It did. And they had it. But… stupid me. I think the drag at 100 on that car just overwhelmed the engine.

        2. James Wyatt Whitehead V Avatar
          James Wyatt Whitehead V

          One of the toughest antique cars to find parts for now. Good luck finding a fuel pump for a Sircoco. I see them for sale from time to time at VW shows. Dirt cheap! Underloved and underappreciated. Cool body style as well.

          1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

            The early body was cool (Karmen?). The later models looked like the Izuzu, which clearly ripped off the original design.

        3. idiocracy Avatar

          If it only got 25MPG it was either not very aerodynamic or it lacked an overdrive gear.

          The 1991 Ford Escort also had a 1.9L engine (this one made 90HP), but it got around 35MPG and would easily exceed 100MPH (4 speed automatic…it shifted into 4th gear at around 90MPH with the pedal to the floor).

          The 1991 Ford Escort, for being an economy car, was actually pretty high-tech for the era:

          1)Distributorless ignition
          2)4-speed computer-controlled transmission
          3)Sequential electronic fuel injection (not throttle body, not batch-fire)
          4)Fully independent rear suspension

          1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

            Ford used a single coil to fire 2 cylinders. Clever. They would spark the cylinder that was compressing and the one ehausting from one coil. Why not? No harm wasting a spark.

    2. idiocracy Avatar

      CAFE standards certainly contributed to the rise of the SUV.

      1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

        Nah, that’s American practicality… “Hey, if someday I might have to live in it….”

        1. idiocracy Avatar

          “You can’t drive your house but you can live in your car!”

          I actually know a repo guy who repossessed a Lexus SUV from a homeless shelter parking lot.

          Some bad life choices involved in that one.

    3. Matt Adams Avatar

      Efficiency played a large role as well as innovation in the car world. Obviously a computer ran EFI is going to provide more efficiency than say a 4 barrel carb.

      The only exception to innovation is the rotary, which like when Wankel created it, needs lots and lots of love to be reliable.

      1. idiocracy Avatar

        There were also those computer-controlled carburetors with the mixture control solenoid. GM had some vehicles with this setup in the mid 80s. These even had ALDL, a datastream that provided real-time sensor readings similar to what OBD-II does.

        I can’t imagine that this was much less expensive than just replacing the mixture control solenoid and it’s associated carburetor with a couple of throttle body injectors (and adding a high pressure fuel pump and regulator).

        1. Matt Adams Avatar

          Ahh the quadrajet circa 1965, true if properly tuned were as good as carb replacements. Using state of the art PWM circuits to adjust the A/F ratio.

          They still had the leaky fuel bowl problem of all carbs though.

          1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

            Ah, I love the smell of gasoline on a frosty morn…

      2. Nancy_Naive Avatar

        Mazda is still doing strange engine things. A couple of years ago they were playing with a gasoline diesel-effect engine. Pretty cool, high MPG stuff.

        1. Matt Adams Avatar

          I know of 4 axioms for Mazda and the 13b or 20b.

          1) They rev really really high
          2) The can make a very large amount of power
          3) A good representation of an RX-7 (FD or prior) is very very expensive
          4) They flood like no bodies business and force you to go buy more expensive leading and trailing spark plugs.

          It’s really a very interesting concept though, I watch a guy on youtube working on a 1000+hp 4 rotor engine. Has to be completely engineered, as do most 3 rotors unless you managed to find a Cosmo.

    4. “The Impreza is a bullet compared to all of the others, too. No sweat making 100MPH with RPM to spare and 0-60 in 7 sec. I’m gonna rack up some tickets, I just know it.”

      As another recent posting noted, the Impreza is #2 behind the WRX for #speeding tickets/driver.

      1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

        It looks like a WRX to a cop. I could say something about systemic racism…?

        But, 0-60 in 4 v 7… I keep mulling it.

    5. That’s interesting. I had a 1969 Pontiac LeMans with a 350 V-8 and a Turb 350 automatic transmission that many years ago used to get 23-25 mpg on the highway carting me back and forth between Va Beach and Blacksburg.

      And I was/am not a slow-poke by any stretch of the imagination. I have been issued something like 42 speeding tickets since I got my license at age 16. And I can’t even count the number of times I’ve been pulled over and gotten away with a warning. It turns out if you’re respectful to the cop AND can make him/her laugh you’ve got a better than 50/50 chance of being told to “slow it down a bit” and sent on your way – at least in my considerable experience.

  12. Baconator with extra cheese Avatar
    Baconator with extra cheese

    You definitely have a point about CAFE standards. And the technology those standards has forced made quite a difference. I drive a Subaru with all wheel drive, big enough for a family, 182 hp and it still gets 33 mpg combined…
    CAFE standards have made a huge difference.

  13. Baconator with extra cheese Avatar
    Baconator with extra cheese

    Admitting standards have been good is tough when you’re a devout Libertarian….

    1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

      It only stings. Buy a Subaru WRX and marvel at the sensation of speed. I think it’s a 2.5L turbo at 310HP. Don’t be macho, get the 7-speed AWD CVT automatic. Once you reach 40, you’ll never hit the shift points anyway. It has paddle shifters so you can pretend.

      1. Matt Adams Avatar

        STI is ~310.

        Only problem with it and other AWD’s is that if you need to replace 1 tire, you’ve got to replace them all.

    2. Bill O'Keefe Avatar
      Bill O’Keefe

      I don’t know what a devout Libertarian is? Yes CAFE standards have made a difference but they have also had a large cost which rarely gets addressed. Originally put in place in about 1976, the purpose was to reduce oil dependency and then to clean the air. The initial effect was to force domestic manufacturers to shift to small light weight cars and to kill the station wagon. SUVs came about under the truck standards. There have been many studies that have shown that the small light weight cars resulted in higher highway deaths. That’s a cost. While I like all of the technology, it is not free so some have been priced out of the market and forced to keep higher polluting vehicles longer. The question today is not whether CAFE standards are good, it is could the benefits be achieved at a lower cost. YES, YES, YES!

      1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

        It’s complex and a mix of parallel and sequential actions. If nothing else CAFE started the manufacturer on the road to high tech solutions. Now that they’re on that road and consumers have expectations, are the cheaper benefits? Most surely.

        Yes cars got smaller. Lighter? Not so much. But unless you are in an accident with an 18-wheeler, you are safer in a 2020 Civic than a 1976 Cutlass.

  14. Now we are saying ban cars with CAFE. No fuel allowed. Electric must be mandated. I like a Prius Hybrid since 2006 we owned one. But that uses (unacceptable) fossil fuel and no electric. sipping fossil fuel is still a bad human being for the Dems.

    1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

      Smug, not smog.
      I used to leave work pretty much the same time every day back in 05, 06 time frame and would always run up on the same white Prius in the left lane doing EXACTLY 55. I would always grumble, pull right, pass him, but then I’d say, “Well, it’s a hybrid; probably can’t do 70.”

      Then, one day on I-95 between Richmond and Fredericksburg, one of the damned things flew by me at 100.

      Next time I pulled up behind the little pr***, I laid on the horn until he moved.

      1. idiocracy Avatar

        It really confuses the crap out of the average Virginia driver if you drive the speed limit in the far right lane.

  15. Wasn’t me, but we had a white Prius til a few weeks ago.

    If it was me, I’d be going 64 or maybe faster…Prius can indeed do well over 100 mph, so that was a slow poke trying to max out MPG.

    1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

      Or, just piss off everyone else.

  16. Bill O'Keefe Avatar
    Bill O’Keefe

    Nancy. It’s not a matter of 18-wheelers. It’s the physics of large versus small. CAFE forced manufacturers to make smaller cars, many are sold at a loss. Here’s what Edmunds says, “New small cars are safer than they’ve ever been, but new larger, heavier vehicles are still safer than small ones. It’s a matter of physics: Bigger and heavier is safer than smaller and lighter.” According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) The lowest 2015 death rate by vehicle type is for very large SUVs: 13 deaths per million registered vehicles. The highest is for mini cars: 64 deaths per million registered vehicles. This continues to validate one of the first serious studies of CAFÉ. See. Robert W. Crandall and John D. Graham, “The Effect of Fuel Economy Standards on Automobile Safety,” Journal of Law and Economics, Vol. XXXII April 1989. Crandall and Graham estimate that the 500-pound decrease in vehicle weight caused by the current CAFE standard of 27.5 mpg already has increased the number of occupant fatalities that will occur over the life of each model year’s cars between 14 percent and 27 percent. This amounts to between 2,200 and 3,900 additional deaths per model year, spread out over the lifetime of the vehicles. Crandall and Graham also estimate that an additional 11,000 to 19,500 serious injuries are likely to occur over the life of each model year’s cars because of the current CAFE standards.

    1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

      1989? The airbag people have gone nuts since then jamming bags everywhere.

      Yes, mass makes a difference, as does the space around the passengers. But in collisions between similar sized vehicles, across years. The results of two 2019 Accords hitting head on at 40, versus two 1976 Cutlasses doing the same… well, I’d prefer to be in the Accord.

      1. Yes. The 2019 Accord was designed with crumple zones, which allow the forces associated with near-instantaneous deceleration from 40 mph to zero to be absorbed by the vehicle, greatly reducing the g-forces acting on occupants of the vehicle.

        The 1976 Cutlass is “stout” and was designed to minimize damage in a collision. Unfortunately, while the vehicle may sustain less damage in a crash, the forces of sudden deceleration are transferred much more quickly to the occupants which can result in g-forces on occupants orders of magnitude higher than those experienced in a vehicle with crumple zones.

        Car designs in the “old days” were biased towards the car surviving a collision – new cars designs are biased towards the occupants surviving a collisions.

        1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

          Crumple zones have been around for a good time. My ’79 Scirroco was designed for the engine to be thrust downward under the car in the event of a front end. The engine was a shock absorber. The 2000 Saturn had “crimps” in the framing and hood structure.
          But as O’Keefe says, disparate sizes, I’d rather be in an Outback than a Mazda 3 from any years. Although, any year Tesla would be best.

          1. “Crumple zones have been around for a good time.”

            Yes. But your example was a ’76 Cutlass. 😉

            Plus, I’m getting old, so any model year after about 1980 is a “newer” design to me.

    2. The public is not aware that the 3-way cat converter on gasoline car tailpipes essentially eliminates all emissions. Diesel of course may be different story. Also the mandated reduction of gasoline sulfur, presumably completely phased in now to near zero, makes the cat converters perform at extreme high levels of pollutant removal. So cars are no longer a valid smog issue, especially something like a hybrid Prius is essentially zero pollution.

      The message from liberals is that cars are extremely poisonous, and absolutely mass murder now that Trump has rolled back regs to allow more rapid poisoning of the population. We are just hyper extremist mode right now.
      Liberals feel we should just assume millions of Americans are being killed early by auto emissions, and assuming all cases of COVID.

      We have to get real, but even if we get real, liberals feel past crimes against humanity justify destroying the American fossil fuel industry.

      1. PS- If you go to a public meeting, as I have, you will hear reps from organizations like American Lung Association advising the public that trace CO2 in the air is highly toxic. Someone forgot to tell them we have 80,000 ppm CO2 in our lungs…minor detail.

        Liberals just assume eco-extremism to the max is the solution, right up there with social justice to the max.

      2. Nancy_Naive Avatar

        On the other hand, diesels do produce far less CO2, like orders of magnitude less. Don’t know how that works, can’t even guess. Plus, US diesel oil is ultra-low sulfur. The issue is now lubrosity.

        1. Probably Fairfax County with nation’s largest school bus fleet is big part of local diesel emissions. But is that bad emissions? What is the negative impact? Is converting fleet to electric at $$$$ the only solution, assuming there is a problem in the first place? A hybrid Prius-like school bus with gaso fuel would be best of both worlds. Or how about some nat gas buses.

          But the message from liberals is that electrification with zero fossil fuels is the only answer and must be immediately mandated. That is really a political vendetta versus solving a real problem. This is what Michael Moore is saying.

        2. idiocracy Avatar

          And you can “roll coal” with diesel, too. That’s like the redneck’s 3-step approach to improving the performance of any engine:

          1)If it has a catalytic converter, punch it out

          2)Make it run pig rich

          3)Make it loud as hell


        3. Technically (to Nancy above) I would say that is out dated logic. I don’t think a hypothetical diesel Prius competes with gaso hybrid Prius on either MPG or emissions.

          You are correct that we now have ultra-low sulfur diesel and gasoline, which helps a lot to reduce the diesel particulates, but for diesel we do not have the equivalent ultra-superior tail-pipe cat converter that really destroys just about everything (except CO2 of course).

          So diesel is going to be harder technical issue to solve as far as smog. That’s what the VW diesel scam was all about. Europe loves diesel and hates gaso cars, so that’s why they have a harder smog/particulate issue than we do.

          1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

            Well, these low compression common rail diesels are phenomenal for diesels, almost no soot. If those are new buses, look at the tailpipe, they ain’t black anymore.

            Listened to a lecture by some atmospheric scientist whose position was that the big 3 are C, CO, & CO2, and the first two would have been way easier to get everyone onboard for eliminating. His opinion was that if they had started with soot elimination, and then CO, we’d have been further along and less resistance to reducing CO2. It sounds reasonable.

          2. You’d have to post reference for me to understand

  17. Nancy_Naive Avatar

    Just in case anyone should observe these comments in the future.

    Back in the 60s and 70s, the psych types ran all kinds of test subject experiments from people administering shocks to other people, to which color glass made water taste better.

    One such experiment involved putting men (separately, women) from all manner of backgrounds and ages together in a “waiting” room where they were observed. When men are put together, the conversation eventually settled on sports and cars. With women, it was children.

    This could have been one of those tests.

  18. Bill O'Keefe Avatar
    Bill O’Keefe

    Nancy, you are absolutely right about the cat converters and low sulphur gasoline. The the git rid of cars gang isn’t interested in air quality, to them it is CO2 emissions from cars.

    1. Listen to Gov Newsom who just banned cars as of 2035. He is talking about cars causing smog and big health issues which is probably a little white lie. But admittedly Ca. has a unique geographic bowl setting. Diesel is probably their smog problem, if any. He lumps cars in to justify the ban.

      I just sold a 2006 Prius hybrid at 14-years old and 192k miles. I don’t think there could be any more kind and gentle car on the environment, all things considered. If you are banning those, then you are probably pursuing a political agenda.

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