North Dakota adds ten new coal-powered cars to its state fleet

The state fleet grew by ten this week as the DOT purchased several Chevy Volts. These are electric cars with a range of about 40 miles, so I don’t think anyone will be running from Bismarck to Fargo (or Minot, or Glen Ullin for that matter) with them without kicking in the backup gas-powered generator. I wonder if they’ll make interesting little git-around-town vehicles. They’re going to be distributed around the state to the eight motor pool regions for state employees to use on official business. GM has suffered dismal failure in trying to convince the general public to buy these things, so I hope the state was able to leverage a sweet deal before spending our tax dollars on them.

If you sense apprehension in my words, don’t get me wrong. I’m not fundamentally opposed to electric cars; I think it’s a good idea to explore new technologies. After all, the “brick” cellular phone of the 90’s had to precede the smartphones of today. What I do oppose are any simpletons who claim they’re “saving the Earth” by purchasing one. Apparently people like that think their outlets are juiced by the Electricity Fairy or something. Let’s face it: these things are NOT going to be charged by windmills or solar panels…period. Thankfully I don’t get the impression that anyone at the state is making any of these pie-in-the-sky claims. This isn’t the first set of electric vehicles to frequent the capitol; there are still some GEM electric vehicles in use as well.

All “saving the planet” BS aside, I don’t know if I see these things as nearly as big a boondoggle as the state’s fascination with ethanol blended fuels. Those are a sure-fire loser, with less thermodynamic potential than gasoline, propped up by taxpayer subsidies in a perverse shell game, while wreaking havoc on the food market. These cars are drawing power from North Dakota lignite-fired power plants, and we can be quite proud of that. I just try not to think of the fact that each one of these cars may already have as much as $250,000 in taxpayer money already subsidizing it.

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