EDITOR’S NOTE: The Maui wildfires are proof that carbon zealotry can kill. Rhode Island has undertaken many of the same unachievable, economically destructive, and dangerous policies.
By Betsy McCaughey
Zero carbon zealotry can be dangerous to your health. In fact, in the hands of government officials, it can kill.
Ask the grieving families of Maui, the Hawaiian island ravaged by wildfires last week.
As the fires raged, liberal media blamed the devastation on climate change.
“How Climate Change Turned Lush Hawaii into a Tinderbox,” announced The New York Times.
Sorry, the evidence is piling up that the opposite is true.
Zero carbon extremism diverted the island’s main electrical producer, Hawaiian Electric, from insulating wires, clearing areas around vulnerable transmission sites and taking other precautions to prevent wildfires it knew were likely to occur.
It dithered on prevention, while pouring funds and manpower into meeting the Hawaiian government’s mandate that all electricity must be produced from renewables by 2045.
The death toll from Lahaina Fire has reached 111, but will go higher, because much of the island hasn’t been searched.
The death toll from Lahaina Fire has reached 111 but is expected to rise.
The fire’s already the deadliest in US history. But wildfires ignited by inadequately maintained electrical transmission systems — uninsulated wires, flimsy poles, out-of-control plant growth — have also devastated Texas, Colorado and California.
Six out of 20 recent wildfires in California, including the 2018 Camp Fire, which killed 85, the Kinkade fire in Sonoma in 2019 and the Dixie Fire in 2022, were caused by sparks due to aging transmission equipment and poor maintenance.
California’s Pacific Electric & Gas boasts that it’s “helping to heal the planet” and is determined to achieve a “net zero energy system in 2040 — five years ahead of California’s current carbon neutrality goal.”
What about healing the families who needlessly lost loved ones in these fires?
Pursuing zero carbon by sacrificing safety and the production of a reliable electricity supply is crazy.
We all want to protect the planet, but at a reasonable pace.
Only 30% of Americans support Biden’s goal of “getting to zero as soon as possible.”
On Wednesday, as rescue operations continued in Maui, President Joe Biden celebrated the one-year anniversary of his Inflation Reduction Act, announcing that the United States is on a path “to reach net-zero emissions by no later than 2050.”
He should have added, “come Hell or high water.”
What went wrong in Maui? Controversy builds as death toll continues climbing: ‘There was no warning’ They can see the trade-offs are too risky.
As the grisly facts come out about Maui, that lesson is clearer than ever.
Though an official report on the fires’ causes will take months, photos and evidence from grid monitors point to a string of fires ignited as power lines hit trees, other lines or the ground because of wind.
“This is strong confirmation — based on real data — that utility grid faults were likely the ignition source for multiple wild fires on Maui,” says Bob Marshall, CEO of Whisker Labs, which monitors electric grids across the US, including in Maui.
Four years ago, in the aftermath of a damaging 2019 wildfire season, Hawaiian Electric concluded that power lines emitting sparks were a serious threat, and the company prepared a plan for fire retardant poles, monitoring technology and insulation.
Then it dithered, spending less than $245,000 on wildfire prevention, while it went whole hog launching big projects in renewable energy.
It stalled until 2022 to even request a rate hike for wildfire mitigation.
Hawaiian Electric spent less than $245,000 on wildfire prevention, while it went whole hog launching big projects in renewable energy.
Hawaiian Electric’s priorities — in hindsight, lethal priorities — reflected the overwhelmingly Democratic, woke political culture of the state.
Beware that across the US, leftist politicians are pushing for net-zero on a reckless timetable that sacrifices the safety of ordinary people.
Wildfires are among the worst side effects.
But right here in the New York City area, Democrats are mandating that Con Edison go to zero-carbon and zero-nuclear electrical generation, never mind that consumers will see their bills more than double by 2025 (say good-bye to using the clothes dryer and A/C) and face blackouts.
As energy giant Harold Hamm writes in his new book, Game Changer, with current technologies, net-zero
“has zero chance of working.”
Tell the politicians, “Yes, save the planet, but don’t kill us or destroy our standard of living in the process.”
Betsy McCaughey is a former lieutenant governor of New York.