Commentary

Dr. Petrolove or: How I learned to stop worrying and love fossil fuels

A parody of Virginia’s EV resistance (apologies to Stanley Kubrick)

September 26, 2022 12:03 am

Electric vehicles charging near Union Station in Washington, D.C. (Drew Angerer / Getty Images)

We always knew it would come to this.

That it would start … out there. Out on the Left Coast where all the loonies live: California, the land of surfboards and wildfires; of Google, Apple and Microsoft; of swimming pools and movie stars. And godless liberals.

That’s the sort of place where wild-eyed, un-American ideas get seeded by some radical who dares to think beyond this decade and where it would take root and, before you knew it, creep across the purple mountain majesties and the fruited plain like kudzu.

Sure ’nuff, it happened: a sneak attack. OK … a sneak attack with 13 years’ notice, but that’s no time at all when you’re talking about ending the sale of new gasoline-powered cars.

Youngkin’s my name. Glenn Youngkin. I command this conservative outpost called Virginia, and if those granola-munching, tree-hugging, Birkenstock-wearing lefties are spoiling to go toe-to-toe over our precious petroleum fluids, well … hold my Chardonnay.

A slick-haired, tan-from-a-can dandy named Gavin Newsom, my counterpart in California, started this dust-up. And I aim to finish it. It was his doing and that of the lefty legislature out in the so-called Golden State that flat-out dictated that come 2035, there would be no more brand-new cars sold that rely on internal combustion of petroleum distillates for locomotion. If you buy it new off a dealer’s lot or order it online factory-fresh, it’ll run off hydrogen fuel like some spaceship or you’ll have to plug it in like some lowly vacuum cleaner or washing machine.

That’s pretty rich, ain’t it? A state that barely a week ago was warning of rolling blackouts on account of a freak heat wave draining its power grid is going to force folks to buy cars that run off the very electricity that they already can’t make enough of.

Not that it’s any skin off ol’ Glenn’s hind parts if Californians won’t have the privilege of paying upwards of seven frogskins a gallon for regular gas – nearly nine bucks for high-test – as they did several weeks ago. What slaps my chaps is that what Newsom did means I’d have to do the same thing across the country here in god-fearin’, carbon-lovin’ Virginia, too.

Like hell I will.

electric vehicle charging station Henrico
The Biden administration’s goal to have half of all U.S. vehicles be electric by 2030, will require increased production of minerals such as lithium, nickel and cobalt used in batteries. (Sarah Vogelsong/Virginia Mercury)

I’m pulling Virginia out of this Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and I’m asking the General Assembly to repeal this perfidious state law the Democrats passed in 2021 that requires us to follow California’s lead on emissions policy. Seventeen other states are part of this same devil’s deal, but I can only strike a blow for the good of our fossil fuels here in Virginia (unless I strike it lucky in the 2024 presidential primaries, but that’s another tale).

Here comes Lionel Mandrake, my somewhat uptight, British-born environmental policy wonk, walking into my office. Right on time.

“Mandrake, have a seat,” I said, motioning to the chair opposite my desk.

“Good evening, sir. Do I understand correctly that we’re threatening to leave the multi-state vehicle emissions compact and that you’ve placed the House of Delegates on Condition Red?” Mandrake said. “Good idea. Keep the lads on their toes.”

“I’m afraid this isn’t a drill, Mandrake,” I replied.

“Oh dear. Is California involved?”

“Looks like it. Could get pretty hairy.”

I took a sip of my preferred cocktail, an oaky Pinot Grigio and rainwater. “Mandrake, I can no longer sit back and allow leftist infiltration, leftist indoctrination, leftist subversion and the international leftist conspiracy to sap and impurify our precious petrochemical fluids!”

“But sir, might we be acting a bit … rashly? I mean, the whole bloody point will likely be moot by 2035 whether we act or not. The mass conversion to electric vehicles is well under way. Detroit and the world’s other automakers are retooling and switching entire model lines pell-mell from internal combustion engines to electric motors. Why, there’s even a new start-up right here in Virginia that’s in business converting big-rig tractors from diesel engines to electrical. Our own transportation department just announced plans for a major expansion of electrical charging stations along interstates across Virginia. And our friends at Dominion are ever so keen on the idea of vehicles that use electricity,” Mandrake said.

“Friends? Dominion?” I said, giving Mandrake the stink-eye.

“Dreadfully sorry. Habit from the not-too-distant past,” he said.

“Mandrake, do you realize that EV dominance is the most monstrously conceived, leftist/environmentalist plot we’ve ever faced?”

“Nevertheless, sir, carmakers are going where the money and incentives are, and if a market the size of Cali goes EV, so shall they. Were California  its own country, it would be the world’s fifth-largest economy right behind Germany and just ahead of the United Kingdom — God save the king. California’s almost $3 trillion annual GDP accounts for nearly 15% of the entire American economy,” he continued in a pleading tone.

“And sir,” Mandrake continued, “General Motors has already announced it will bring 30 new EV models to market in just the next three years and manufacture EVs exclusively by 2035. Ford has invested $22 billion into electric vehicles, and 40% of all that it produces will be all-electric by 2030. Besides, sir, this shan’t affect the sale of pre-owned petrol-powered cars by one tuppence.”

“Sit down and chill, Mandrake. I’ve already gotten the ball rolling with Todd Gilbert and our boys in the House. There’s no stopping it now,” I said.

“I beg of you, Glenn – politics aside — have you considered the climatological implications? It brings us incrementally closer to … the Doomsday Machine,” he said ominously. “It’s getting worse every year, sir: triple-digit temperatures in Portland, Oregon, and even Scotland, for goodness sake; a full-blown hurricane now forecast to blast the Canadian coast near Newfoundland; estuaries and reservoirs drying up in the American Southwest; hundred-year floods happening every year.”

The Doomsday Machine is real and terrifying, but completely credible and easy to understand.

“The libs have been using that global warming hooey to try to scare the bejeebers out of us for decades now. Every study the petroleum industry pays for proves the same thing: science can’t be trusted,” I replied.

“But you don’t have to believe me, Mandrake,” I continued, buzzing my receptionist. “Can you send in Dr. Petrolove?”

Petrolove sir?” Mandrake asked. “Wasn’t he …”

“Yeah. I put him on retainer after he made parole for his part in that Enron nastiness back in the 2000s. Knows every dirty secret in the oil and gas biz and some they haven’t even thought up yet. If your ‘Doomsday Machine’ exists, Petro will know about it.”

“’Sup, chief?” Petrolove called out in his Texas twang as he strutted into my office.

“Petro, Mandrake here tells me there’s the risk of some ‘Doomsday Machine’ that could plunge humanity into environmental oblivion if we keep standing up for our friends in the carbon-energy sector,” I said. “Go ahead and tell him how full of malarkey he is.”

“Um …,” Petro said, shuffling his cowboy boots, unable to look at me.

“Go ahead, Doc. School Mandrake for me.”

“Well, el hefe,” Petrolove said, haltingly clearing his throat, “the Doomsday Machine is real and terrifying, but completely credible and easy to understand. If we don’t decrease the carbon that we’re pumping into the atmosphere, it will create a doomsday shroud around the planet.”

Chills ran down my back. I swallowed hard. Suddenly I understood. Why hadn’t I seen the devastating truth of this all along? Why had I clung to naïve beliefs in the face of clear evidence? It was, indeed, an inconvenient truth, but it was high time I accepted it … and spoke it.

“Damn shame the libs got to you, too, Petro. You’re fired.”

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Bob Lewis
Bob Lewis

Bob Lewis covered Virginia government and politics for 20 years for The Associated Press. Now retired from a public relations career at McGuireWoods, he is a columnist for the Virginia Mercury. He can be reached at [email protected]

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