Green No Deal

Welcome back to the Scuttlebutt. No, the title isn’t a misprint or editorial mistake.

Let’s talk about the “green” movement today.

So, that big front-end loader pictured above is a piece of mining equipment.  It’s used to dig up the raw ore in open pit mines and take it to a dump truck which then takes it to the refinery/smelter (sometimes on-site, sometimes on the other end of the country.  It depends on how big the mine is.)

The dump truck called a “Mining Machine” gets .3 MPG.  The rig above burns 900-1000 gal of diesel in a 12-hour shift, figure the Mining Machine at maybe 20% of that, after all, it’s not running all the time, so that’s another 200 gal.  I don’t have the fuel numbers on trains readily available, and the industry seems to be very evasive on how much energy (whether in the form of electricity off the grid in KWH, or in KWH or diesel to run generators at the remote site, because Open pit mines are NEVER anywhere near a town or city… sort of by design.) it takes to run the crushers, and smelters, and so on, but it’s a LOT, or they would be bragging about it.

Then there’s the energy required to remove what mining engineers call “overburden.” That’s the shit that is in the way and must be removed to get to the ore.  Industry-standard calculations for this are 3-20 tons (depending on where you are mining) of overburden for every ton of ore.

Let’s be charitable here and assume ONLY 3 tons. That means you’re burning the amount of fuel it takes to dig up 4 tons of stuff for every ton of ore, and every ton of ore gives you about .5% of the stuff needed to make one car battery for a Tesla.  Industry figures show that for the lithium, cobalt, nickel, graphite, and copper together to make ONE Tesla battery, you’re moving and refining 45 tons of ore. This doesn’t count the overburden.  Oh, and by the way, NO ONE has come up with an electric version of these machines, the tech isn’t there.  If it was, the energy to build one would be beyond belief.  In short, it’s a reasonable assumption that your Tesla battery cost about 100 barrels of oil to make. (this is probably lowballed)

A barrel of oil gets you 19 gallons of gasoline. The EPA says the average MPG for vehicles in the US is 25.34 MPG, but for cars, which are really the only thing that is practical today as an EV the number is 31.35 MPG I’m going to use the car numbers, because that’s honestly what you’re replacing, a car, not a truck or a minivan. (Yes, there are some of those, but the miles per charge on them is even shittier than for cars, and that’s a whole nother article.) So, you have to drive 60,000 miles to save the gasoline that was burned just in making the battery.  That doesn’t count the rest of the car (fair, because much of the rest of the car would be made for an I/C vehicle as well, though we could get into the motors used, and the amount of rare earths needed for these electric high-efficiency motors…)

Still, this isn’t actually accurate yet, because it ignores the amount of fuel used to make the electricity used to charge your EV to drive that 60K miles. If we wrap it all up in a bow, it’s about a wash.  You’re going to drive over 120K miles to get to the point where you’re actually “saving” oil by using an EV with our current electrical grid.

Now if we would get off our ass and build a bunch of nuke plants, that would improve fairly dramatically, even after averaging in the energy cost of building the nuke plants and upgrading the national power grid.

This is something that we’re going to have to do ANYWAY if Biden and the rest of the green mafia get their way because our grid can’t handle the load on it NOW. We’ve got EV owners being told they may not charge their car during “peak” usage hours, because the Electrical grid can’t handle their cars and the A/C units that are being run.

I started to dive into what percentage of vehicles on the road today are electric, and discovered that the industry doesn’t want to share that information.  Oh, you get bombarded with “percent of new vehicles sold” and “estimated percentage of vehicles on the road by 2040” (which tells you everything you need to know, with the words “estimated” and the source “Bloomberg”)  After a lot of digging and some number crunching, looking at the data from 2019 which is the newest I can find, there were 727,390 electric vehicles of all kinds registered to run on our highways. There were 2,764,911,700 vehicles registered in the US that year.

So, .02% (.0002630789 if you want to be precise) of the vehicles on the road are electric in some form…

And our grid can’t handle it.

President Biden wants 50% of the vehicles on the road to be E/V by 2030…

It’s good to want things, I want to be part of the first Martian colony.  I figure I have a better shot at it than Bidet does getting what he wants.

Now let’s take a look at another piece of the puzzle. (Hat tip to Peter Gold, who’s the CHEG with the US Merchant Marine for pointing me to this, it’s good to have friends in various industries.) 

There’s a very specialized website called “gCaptain” that does merchant mariner industry coverage, and nothing else.  As a result, you don’t see it much if you’re not in that industry. This is sad because the information there affects everyone in this nation.  Between shipping, trucking, railroads, and pipelines, every single thing you touch goes through one or all of these…

Yes, you in the back with the reek of patchouli, even the stuff you grow in your little organic garden.  You bought the tools to do the gardening, I guarantee you didn’t mine the ore by hand, forge the blade, and cut the tree, your tools were made either in some other state or some other nation, and you couldn’t do your little virtue signal garden without them. You bought the original seeds or traded for them, the water can you use, EVERYTHING moves by truck, train, pipeline, and ship.

Why am I emphasizing this? This particular article: 

If you have the time, you should read it all, but I’m going to summarize it here.  This is about the Green Nazi’s plan for shipping.  It seems there’s an “International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) new Environmental social and corporate governance (ESG) index aimed at decarbonizing the industry.”

What does that mean?

Well first, any time you see an “ESG index” run.  Seriously. This is “we are going to shame you into being green if it kills you, and if it does, GREAT.”  This is the same concept that has driven Sri Lanka into starvation in pursuit of a “good number” on their ESG score. (See previous articles for an in-depth discussion.)

According to IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim, “the adoption of new MARPOL amendments during MEPC 76 will build on IMO’s previously adopted mandatory energy efficiency measures, setting shipping on a course towards decarbonization.”

A brief summary of the piece that we’re talking about is:
“The new measures will require all ships to calculate their Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index (EEXI) following technical means to improve their energy efficiency and to establish their annual operational carbon intensity indicator (CII) and CII rating. Carbon intensity links the GHG emissions to the amount of cargo carried over distance travelled.

Ships will get a rating of their energy efficiency (A, B, C, D, E – where A is the best). Administrations, port authorities and other stakeholders as appropriate, are encouraged to provide incentives to ships rated as A or B also sending out a strong signal to the market and financial sector.

A ship rated D for three consecutive years, or E, is required to submit a corrective action plan, to show how the required index (C or above) would be achieved.”

So, what does this mean, and why does it matter?

Well, while all of this is “voluntary” it’s backed up by “the Poseidon Principles.” As mentioned in this quote from the original article:
 “a group of banks committed to efforts to cut carbon emissions when lending to shipping companies. This group of banks established the Poseidon Principles, a global framework that is consistent with IMO policies on environmental grounds. As of today, 28 banks have signed on to the Poseidon Principles.”

“The Poseidon Principles are fairly new but are already having a ripple effect on finance and insurance, as banks and other lenders begin to factor in a company’s carbon emissions when making lending decisions.”

“What this means for shipowners is that even if they find a way around the IMO’s ESG regulations, steaming at normal speeds could increase their carbon scores and have a negative effect on financing options and stock prices.”

So, much like the federal government, dealing with state and local governments, “if you don’t do what we ask, you may just find it impossible to get any money, so we advise compliance.”

Why this is important is this: There are basically three ways to get into compliance. Buy new ships, completely overhaul your existing ships, or cut your speed at sea (so called “Slow Steaming”) most of the merchant fleet worldwide is going to be forced into the “Slow Steaming” model, because building ships is EXPENSIVE, as in part of a national GDP expensive, and there are a limited number of places that build ships.  The same thing goes for overhauls. Over 75% of the ships carrying freight are “out of compliance” according to the “VesselsValue” report.

Slow Steaming though brings with it a different problem.  It effectively reduces the number of ships you have, by reducing the number of deliveries you can make a month.  In this business, like in trucking, time is money. If I can get the ship there in three days, I can make 5 runs a month. (Going the other way with a different cargo, or gods forbid, deadheading) If I have to slow my speed by half to meet some 18-year-old’s concern about carbon, that means 2 or three runs a month.  If I can’t afford to get this ship up to the new model carbon emission standard, I can’t afford to buy more ships either, so I just lost half my delivery capability.

You thought the “just in time” shipping and manufacturing model was screwed up by COVID? Baby, you ain’t seen nothing yet.  But it’s not just manufacturing, it’s FOOD, it’s fertilizer (which is food at one remove) it’s OIL. Another quote from this article: “Just last week BIMCO warned that a dwindling oil tanker fleet could deepen the global energy crisis over the next three years as energy companies try to increase production to meet demand. Meanwhile, a global food crisis looms because the industry does not have enough bulkers to move grain long distances to meet demand after Russia destroyed many of Ukraine’s fields and farming infrastructure.”

Now there is a possible out.  If enough of the little guys, or a couple of the big guys, and I’m talking Maersk and MSC here, have the courage to tell these self-proclaimed little tin gods of the international shipping world “fuck you, we’re not going to make nations starve to death for your little green scheme” or if enough national interest gets involved through senators, congressmen, members of parliament, and so on demanding to know “why am I getting thousands of calls a day on this issue, sir?” Things might change.

When first world countries have riots in the streets over the price of food and the inability to buy Christmas presents because there just isn’t anything on the shelves, and when third world countries are seeing revolution and mobs storming the capital buildings with ropes and guns, instead of cellphones and signs, this mess might just go by the wayside.  Or not.

I’m not saying that there are people that are trying to cause a worldwide famine and civil unrest/ depopulation… But if they were, what exactly would they be doing differently? Folks, it’s 2359 and thirty seconds, you need to rattle politicians’ chains, you need to prepare for things to get spicy.

Take care, watch your six, 
Until next time I remain,
Yours in service.
William Lehman.


  1. Trains measure by ton-miles-per gallon. CSX say they get 483 ton miles per gallon. That’s freight weight, not including the weight of the railcars.

  2. Fairly sure there aren’t 2.7 billion registered vehicles in the US. That would be about 10 per adult of driving age in the US. I would believe 270 million. Did you misplace a decimal there?

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