The Instigator
flamebreath
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
bluesteel
Con (against)
Winning
20 Points

Should the United States promote electric vehicles

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/15/2011 Category: Technology
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 4,880 times Debate No: 14398
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (39)
Votes (4)

 

flamebreath

Pro

Thanks for any potential debater
Round one Introduction
Round Two: Main Round
Round Three: Cross examination/clash
Round Four: conclusion
bluesteel

Con

Thanks for the debate flamebreath.

Definitions

Princeton's Wordnet defines:
  • United States as the "United States government." [1]
  • promote as "contribute to the growth of" [2]
  • electric as "operated by electricity" [3]
  • vehicle as "a conveyance that transports people or objects" [4]
  • conveyance as "something that serves as a means of transportation" [5]
Observations
  1. The only way the government typically contributes to the growth of certain industries is through subsidy.
  2. We should therefore take the resolution to include heavy subsidies to electric vehicle industries, in order to make these industries cost-competitive.
  3. Electric means operated wholly by electricity. If the vehicle is operated by other power sources as well, it is not "electric," it is a "hybrid."
  4. "Vehicle" includes all transportation mediums. The resolution does not allow the government to discriminate.
  5. This means that fully electric airplanes, buses, cars, boats, and motorcycles must all be promoted equally.
Burden of Proof

My opponent, as pro/instigator, has the burden to prove that the government should subsidize all electric vehicles. We should look at which policy creates the great good for the greatest number. If I prove that the free market is a better mechanism of promotion, then he fails his BOP. I look forward to hearing his case.

Citations

[1] http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu...
[2] http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu...
[3] http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu...
[4] http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu...
[5] http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu...
Debate Round No. 1
flamebreath

Pro

Thanks for accepting.
My opponent has created a Burden of proof which i would be adding on to. My opponent has to find ways to prove that the government cannot financially support the promotion of electric cars and to add to his burden of proof, i would be arguing that the use of electric cars is both environmentally friendly as well as cost efficient to the owner.

Contention One: Environmental needs
Going back to my first point Environmental needs, In the recent years there have been a lot of discussions concerning the future of personal vehicles using oil products as a mean of energy, such as cars. The discussion is about global warming, pollution and the dependency upon the non-renewable oil. The global car industries has already begun to show exactly where the future of cars is going and right now it seems as electric cars and hybrid cars is the answer. With the amount of green house gas realized into the atmosphere reduced, it is clear that our people will flourish more and the nature will repopulate many extinct animals.
"Electric cars seek to reduce the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere by relying on electricity instead of burning gasoline. Electric motors create magnetic fields that spin a rotor which in turn rotates the axle of the car, causing motion. All of this is done without any emission of CO2. Fewer CO2 emissions means fewer greenhouse gases in the atmosphere." (http://www.life123.com...).

Contention two: subsidy
When looking into this resolution, we must see that the benefits of the electric vehicle and hybrid vehicle is so high and beneficial that the amount of subsidies paid to promote this technology will not seem as great as we might think. first let us take our time to examine the one alternative that might change our perspective towards the electric cars financial benefits. Let us look to a "2005 study by the U.S. Department of Energy Pacific Northwest National Laboratory estimated that three-quarters of the country current small vehicle fleet could be charged by our existing electrical grid without building new power plants. (And if all those cars were replaced by PHEVs, it would eliminate the need for 6.5 billion barrels of oil per day, or 52 percent of current U.S. oil imports.) We have to take in consideration that the United States government although would spend a lot of money in the promotion of this product, its benefits will pay off significantly.

Contention Three: cost efficiency
Secondly we have to take in consideration that the electric car is a lot more cost efficient than that of a gasoline powered car. . A 2007 study by the non-profit Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) calculated that powering a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) would cost the equivalent of roughly 75 cents per gallon of gasoline—a price not seen at the pump for 30 years. 2005 study by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory estimated that three-quarters of the country’s current small vehicle fleet could be charged by our existing electrical grid without building new power plants. Therefore not only will the Electric powered car reduce the amount of money spent by our citizens, it will safe our government from buying a large amount of oil needed for other equipments.
(http://www.scientificamerican.com...)

bluesteel

Con

Thanks flamebreath.

Burden of Proof

My opponent tries to throw a burden back on me. However, since he is instigator and pro, the rules of debate state that he must prove the resolution true. I only need to show that he fails to meet this burden.

He says I must prove the government cannot afford subsidies. This isn’t too hard, so I’ll go ahead. The recently approved December tax cut deal will add $700 billion to the federal deficit in the next two years. [1] This will put us over the mandatory government debt limit of $14.2 trillion. [2] The government is, by law, not allowed to spend anymore. House Speaker, John Boehner, has stated that all new spending measures must be proposed individually and must be budget neutral, specifying which programs to cut in order to make up for the new spending; this is a significant new development in House budgetary policy. [3] So if my opponent proposes a spending increase, we should assume that other programs - like education, infrastructure spending, and health care - will be cut.

Definitions/Observations

Not contested – so my opponent, by the rules of debate, agrees to these for the rest of the debate.

Contention 1: Subsidies crowd out other alternatives

Subsidies create market distortions and crowd out investment in other alternatives, like ethanol and hydrogen fuel cells. Essentially, if the government subsidizes electric vehicles, it is choosing the winner itself, rather than letting the market decide which type of power source is best and most cost effective.

Take the following future hypothetical example. Electric cars cost $80,000. Hydrogen fuel cell cars cost $80,000. Flex fuel cars (that run on ethanol) cost $70,000. If the government provides a $20,000 tax credit for buying an electric car, everyone will buy electric because it’s cheaper (only $60,000 with the subsidy), even though it is not naturally so.

Making alternatives less cost competitive is problematic because hydrogen fuel cells and (non-corn) ethanol are showing great promise. Flex fuel cars that can run on blends of up to 100% ethanol only cost an additional $100 to manufacture. [4] In Brazil, sugar ethanol powers 45% of their cars. [5] While sugar doesn’t grow well in the U.S., a study by the National Commission on Energy Policy found that the U.S. could replace two-thirds of its oil needs by 2050 using cellulosic ethanol made from switchgrass. [6]

The free market should decide which alternative to gasoline is most cost effective, efficient, and best for the environment. The government should not intervene in the market and decide which of these 3 alternatives should win the competition - through government fiat and subsidy.

Contention 2: Public transportation

In A New Liberty, Murray N. Rothbard explains how federal subsidies for highways and cars has led to such an over-reliance on passenger vehicles in the United States that so-called “public transportation” systems (trains, light rail, buses) have had no chance at competing. Newsweek’s profile of Obama’s high-speed rail proposal chronicled how the passenger rail systems in the U.S. have fallen into disuse and ill-repair over the last 40 years, due to federal subsidies for driving.

The U.S. uses far more energy per capita than any other nation. If we truly care about the cost and the environment, the goal should be to decrease our per capita energy consumption. One key way of doing this is to decrease the number of cars on the road and to increase the amount of public transportation, which uses less energy per capita since it’s like a giant carpool. Any new subsidies for cars will further crowd out “public transportation” alternatives.

Note: the bus fleet in the U.S. is increasingly able to run on ethanol. [7]

The investment in alternatives to cars and roads is even more necessary, considering the recent American Society of Civil Engineer’s report, which gave our nation’s roads a failing grade and outlined $1.6 trillion of drastically needed repairs. [8]

Contention 3: Electric cars suck

A study by the National Cancer Institute found that the large magnetic fields found in electric cars can cause cancer. [9]

In addition, 80% of our electric grid comes from dirty sources of power (coal and natural gas). Although electric cars seem cleaner, the pollution is just emitted somewhere else, far away - at the location of the power plant.

The typical electric car can only go 100 miles on one charge, which makes the car completely useless for longer trips, making vacationing and visiting family difficult.

In addition, because of battery replacement costs, electric cars are quite expensive to maintain. Batteries must be replaced every 20,000 miles for a cost of $2000. [10]

Lastly, electric cars just swap one non-renewable resource for another. Lithium, the key component in car batteries, is a very limited resource. According to Meridian International Research, “Analysis shows that a world dependent on Lithium for its vehicles could soon face even tighter resource constraints than we face today with oil.” [11] We will simply be dependent on lithium imports from Chile, instead of oil imports from Saudi Arabia. Josie Gartwaithe points out the ridiculousness of trying to “wean vehicles off of one limited resource — petroleum — and get them hooked on another: lithium.” [12]

Contention 4: Grid overload

If the government were to heavily subsidize electric cars, so many people would transfer to this type of vehicle that it would completely overload local power grids. Scientific American explains that local transformers can only handle the electricity load from 10 average size houses; however, a plug-in vehicle is equal to one third of the power consumption of a house. Scientific American furthers that an increase in electric car usage will cause massive blackouts across the United States. [13] Upgrading the grid and replacing every single transformer in the United States would be very costly. We should only allow this to happen if the free market deems electric vehicles to be the most cost effective, simplest and best solution to the alternative energy problem.

In addition, an increase in electric cars would drastically drive up the demand for electricity in the United States. Since no new nuclear plants can currently be built in the U.S., and wind and solar provide only minimal amounts of energy (less than 0.5% of our current grid) and cannot store energy, any new power plants that would be built to meet rising demand would be coal or natural gas. Burning coal is worse for the environment than burning gasoline in the cars themselves, so this is a terrible replacement, and increasing natural gas would result in an increase in the dubious and environmentally dangerous form of natural gas collection called “fracking.”


Contention 5: Other vehicles

My opponent fails the BOP unless he proves electric airplanes, boats, and motorcycles are viable.


More arguments/rebuttal to come in Round 3, as per the rules.

Citations

[1] http://tinyurl.com...

[2] http://tinyurl.com...

[3] http://tinyurl.com...

[4] http://tinyurl.com...

[5] http://tinyurl.com...

[6] http://tinyurl.com...

[7] http://tinyurl.com...

[8] http://tinyurl.com...

[9] http://tinyurl.com...

[10] http://tinyurl.com...

[11] http://tinyurl.com...

[12] http://tinyurl.com...

[13] http://tinyurl.com...

Debate Round No. 2
flamebreath

Pro

My opponent continually argue that the government is "picking the winner" itself however he failed to realize that the government is promoting as to advertising it not mandating it. it is left for the buyer/market to actually make the decision of buying it and extending the range in which it grows.
"In Brazil, sugar ethanol powers 45% of their cars" we must see that the United states is not able to create an alternative such sugar ethanol simply because it does not have such a natural resource and even if the United States is able to provide or create a reliable alternative to electric cars, we will see an increase need for this product thus creating the same problem as faced today. The United States government must find that these electric cars and hybrid cars are already in there control and all there is left for the4m to do, is to advertise it thus promoting and increasing the chances of sale.

Efficiency is the one key need when looking at the development of a new vehicle with a different power source. The United States government as well as its citizen will be able to tell that the electric car is much efficient to that of a petroleum powered car.

"The U.S. uses far more energy per capita than any other nation. If we truly care about the cost and the environment, the goal should be to decrease our per capita energy consumption. One key way of doing this is to decrease the number of cars on the road and to increase the amount of public transportation," this statement was made by my opponent. This might seem quite understandable however we must look to the fact that we do not have to build new power grid's to accommodate the electric car thus making it environmental friendly as well as stabilizing the amount of energy consumed by the U.S

My opponent seems to be convinced that the electric car is expensive due to its maintenance; however let us look into the fact that the electric car is "dependable" as well as "reliable", with this been said, the electric car will not need to be repaired for many years unless of an accident.

We must see that an electric car is the only comprehensive alternative to the petroleum car at it is cost efficient, dependable and environmentally friendly.
bluesteel

Con

Thanks flamebreath.

==Rebuttal to Round 2==

C1: The Environment

Response to global warming:

Massive subsidies to prevent global warming are not cost effective. According to the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Kyoto Protocol cost member countries $220 billion, while averting only $95 billion worth of projected global warming harm. [1] These cost figures led the UN International Panel on Climate Change to recommend geo-engineering solutions to cool the globe (by blocking sunlight, for instance) rather than emissions reduction strategies (like subsidizing alternative energy) because the former is vastly more cost effective.

And to play devil’s advocate: human-made global warming is far from proven. Looking at millions of years of CO2 levels, the data clearly shows that increases in CO2 lag behind increases in temperature by approximately 1000 years. [2] Physicist Richard Muller explains that as temperature levels increase, the ocean cannot hold as much dissolved CO2 and releases it into the atmosphere (just as warm soda cannot hold as much dissolved CO2). Thus, high temperatures cause increases in atmospheric CO2 concentrations, not the other way around. In addition, the current atmospheric concentration of CO2 is 380 parts per million (ppm). In the Ordovician period of the Prolezoic era, Earth had atmospheric CO2 concentrations of 4400 ppm but average temperature levels were far lower than they are today. [3] That’s more than 10 times the current concentration of CO2, but with lower temperatures – the correlation is far from clear.

Response to Pollution:

Coal power plants – which comprise 65% of US power production - produce more air pollution than gasoline, considering that they spew particulates into the air called black carbon. In fact, black carbon has a far larger (potential) contribution to global warming than CO2. According to V. Ramanathan of UC San Diego, “a mere 10% reduction in black carbon would be equivalent to eliminating 25 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions.” [4]

Black carbon is also devastating to human health, causing respiratory problems and killing thousands of people in the U.S. each year, according to an analysis by Princeton. [5]

Thus, subsidizing electric vehicles and increasing demand for electricity will mean that coal power plants will burn more coal, increasing – not decreasing – global warming and further damaging our respiratory health in the U.S.

Response to oil dependence:

Our energy security is not in a very bad situation right now. We still produce approximately 50% of our oil domestically. Of the 50% we import, we get most of our oil from Canada, Venezuela, and Saudi Arabia, none of which have any inclination to cut us off. Saudi Arabia has refused at least 3 recent attempts by OPEC to impose production quotas, both to protect their close relationship with the U.S. and because countries like Kuwait simply cheat the quotas, stealing Saudi market share.

Response to “no emissions”:

My opponent claims electric cars have no emissions. He forgets that these cars use electric power to charge, meaning the emissions still do exist, they are just emitted at the source of the dirty power plant (coal, natural gas) and not the car itself.

Furthermore, nuclear power comprises 20% of our grid, but these power plants are between 40 and 50 years old and are thus nearing the end of their life cycles. Since it has been politically infeasible to build new nuclear plants since the Three Mile Island disaster, the grid will become even more dirty, as we build more coal and natural gas plants to replace our nuclear power plants.

C2: Subsidy

My opponent doesn’t explain here how much of a subsidy would be required to get people to buy fully electric cars. Right now, the typical fully electric sedan costs at least 3 tries the price of the average new car purchased in the United States. It would take a hefty and expensive subsidy to get any significant number of consumers to switch to electric vehicles.

My opponent violates my Observation 3 multiple times here, as well, when he cites studies that are about plug-in hybrid vehicles, which are gasoline-powered cars with a small battery that can be charged through a wall-socket. These are not “electric vehicles;” they are “hybrids.”

So the 2005 Department of Energy study is invalid because hybrids take far less electricity to charge than a fully electric vehicle. In addition, when the study says that we can replace our “small vehicle fleet,” it is referring to cars that are sedan size or smaller, which is misleading because many Americans own minivans and/or SUV’s.

In addition, discussing hybrids is invalid because many hybrids, like the Honda Prius, are quite cost competitive, so they require absolutely no subsidies. The fact that hybrids are gaining popularity in the U.S. with no government intervention proves that government interference in the free market is unnecessary.

Lastly, even if he could cite a study that we’d need no new power plants for electric vehicles, that doesn’t answer that the transformers that are on each street, pictured here http://tinyurl.com..., cannot handle the electricity load if everyone owned an electric vehicle, and they would all need to be upgraded, at the significant expense of the utility companies.

C3: cost efficiency

My opponent’s 2007 study is again about hybrids, not fully electric vehicles, which are much more expensive to charge. In addition, his study assumes that 1) everyone will charge their cars at night and 2) that utility companies will not change their pricing structure to compensate for increased demand for electricity at night. [6] Although right now electricity only costs 2 cents per kilowatt-hour at night (the figure the study uses), utility companies are switching to a more dynamic pricing model, using smart meters, that will more closely match demand. If everyone owned an electric car and charged it at night, electricity prices at night would resemble prices during the day. Considering that the average price of electricity in the U.S. is 6 times higher than the cost figure the study uses, then we get that plug-in hybrids would cost $3.50 per gallon of gasoline-equivalent. [7] This is roughly the same price that gasoline currently costs in the U.S., so it’s not much improvement.

Lastly, my opponent’s study ignores the initial price of the car and measures only the price of the energy used to power the car. This is invalid. For example, fusion power promises to one day allow cars to run on water. However, the cars would be prohibitively expensive. A fusion powered car with a purchasing price of $5 million, but a per mile energy cost of 3 cents, is not necessarily superior to a car that costs $20,000 with a per mile energy cost of $3. Electric cars may cost less to power (per mile), but they are at least three times as expensive to initially purchase as the average passenger vehicle in the U.S.

Taking into account the inevitable change in electricity pricing and the initial purchase price, electric cars are not cost efficient.

I’ll refute my opponent’s third Round in my 4th Round.

Citations

[1] http://tinyurl.com...

[2] http://tinyurl.com...

[3] Crowley, Thomas J.; Baum, Steven K. (1995). "Reconciling Late Ordovician (440 Ma) glaciation with very high (14X) CO2 levels". Journal of Geophysical Research

[4] http://tinyurl.com...

[5] http://tinyurl.com...

[6] http://tinyurl.com...

[7] http://tinyurl.com...

Debate Round No. 3
flamebreath

Pro

I would like to continue this argument however i must abide by the rules and bring this to conclusion. In conclusion, i urge you to vote for me simply because i met the burden of proof by proving that the United States government does not have to worry about subsidies simply because the advantages are great and numerous as well as providing a good argument against other alternatives.
bluesteel

Con

Thanks for a great debate flamebreath.

==Conclusion==

I’ll refute what seem to be my opponent’s voting issues and then move on to my own.

My opponent’s voting issues:

1. Promote = advertisements (from Round 3)

  • The government doesn’t need to “advertise” electric cars – the respective companies do that. Imagine how unfair and wasteful this would be.
  • Imagine the government ran advertisements for Coke, rather than Pepsi. That’s unfair favoritism; the same is true if the government runs ads for the Chevy Volt.
  • Car companies pay for ads anyway – why waste government funds.
  • The only way the government can legally promote something is through subsidy. Using government funds to advertise for a private company is illegal.
  • My opponent is changing his advocacy – he was clearly arguing for subsidies, not advertisements, in round 2. Don’t let him do this.

2. Electric cars are dependable and reliable

  • News report: electric car spontaneously lights itself on fire in San Francisco. [1]
  • Electric cars spontaneously shut down when hitting potholes or speed-bumps. [2]
  • Electric cars don’t operate well in cold weather, and may not survive prolonged rainy seasons. [3]
  • According to a recent consumer report, electric cars are so new that very few mechanics know how to repair them yet. The consumer had to take his car to an electric golf cart repairman and hope for the best.
  • My opponent drops the National Cancer Institute study that the large magnetic fields in electric car engines cause cell damage and cancer.
  • Sorry, I got the battery replacement cost wrong before – the other number was for hybrids. According to U.S. News & World Report, fully electric car batteries cost between $10,000 and $15,000 to replace. [4] You’re essentially buying half a car, again, every 20,000 miles.
  • They can’t go more than 100 miles on one charge.
  • They need a 220 Volt outlet to charge, which most homes don’t have. A good 220 Volt charger will cost $2000 to install. [5]

3. Electric cars need no new power plants

  • His study looked at hybrids, not fully electric vehicles, which require far more power.
  • His study assumed that the cars would all be charged at night; currently, most coal and natural gas power plants shut down or operate at lower capacity at night.
  • It’s illogical for my opponent to draw the conclusion that no new power would be needed. Electric cars need power – period – and that power can’t come from thin air.
  • His study assumes that dirty power plants, that would not normally operate at night, would start operating at full capacity 24/7. This would increase both pollution and cost, even if no new power plants were built.

4. Cost effectiveness

  • Electric vehicles have triple the up-front cost and similar per mile cost to gasoline-powered vehicles, based on my analysis from the previous round.
  • Accounting for electricity price increases due to increased demand, charging an electric car costs the equivalent of buying gasoline at $4.50 per gallon (I actually made a math error the previous round).

5. Environment

  • Burning coal is more harmful to human health than burning oil (Princeton study). Switching from gasoline-powered cars to mostly coal-powered electric cars seems like a bad idea.
  • My opponent fails to even prove that human-caused global warming exists.


Reasons to vote Con in today’s debate.

1. All Vehicles

  • My opponent fails his burden of proof. He has agreed to my definition of vehicle the entire debate as meaning “all forms of transportation” - including airplanes, boats, and motorcycles. Because he doesn’t prove that fully electric vehicles, across all categories of transportation, even exist, he cannot prove that they should be promoted.

2. Public transportation

  • Subsidizing cars makes it more difficult for companies that operate buses, trains, ferries, and light-rail to compete.
  • Mass transportation systems (buses, trains) are extremely more energy efficient than cars. Expending lots of energy to power a massive and heavy machine in order to transport only one person is very wasteful and inefficient.
  • Considering that the roadways are falling into disrepair and desperately need $1.6 trillion in repairs, the time to switch to more public transportation is now.
  • Conclusion: no new subsidies for cars.

3. No government funds

  • My opponent never answers the argument that we have reached the $14.2 trillion government debt ceiling and cannot spend any new money (on subsidies), without specifying where the cuts would come from (according to new House budgetary rules). My opponent never specifies where the cuts would come from, so he would not be allowed to spend any new money, by law.
  • Remember that the typical electric car costs three times as much as the combustion engine-equivalent of that vehicle. The government subsidy to make electric vehicles cost competitive would have to be massive.
  • This isn’t a smart way to spend government funds. A better solution to global warming would be to fund research on methods to cool the globe, such as by blocking sunlight.
  • One such solution is explained in depth in Superfreakonomics.

4. Crowds out alternatives

  • When the government subsidizes one type of product, it makes it difficult for competing products to survive, since the subsidized technology is artificially cheap.
  • This is why, in the US, healthy foods have trouble competing with junk foods made from ridiculously cheap, massively subsidized corn.
  • Flex fuel cars only cost $100 more to manufacture.
  • Hydrogen fuel cell cars are showing a great deal of promise.
  • Clean diesel technology has improved by leaps and bounds in recent years.
  • Cellulosic ethanol is the wave of the future
    • Switchgrass is currently grown on marginal farmland to improve soil quality and is currently considered an agricultural waste product. Farmers often throw it away.
    • Using this essentially free fuel source, the U.S. could replace two thirds of our gasoline usage by 2050, for only a marginal cost, according to the National Commission on Energy Policy.

  • Conclusion: allow the free market to decide the winner, which it will inevitably do based on which technology is most cost-effective.

5. Lithium Dependence

  • Car batteries are utterly dependent on Lithium, which is an even more limited resource than petroleum.
  • According to Meridian International Research, “Analysis shows that a world dependent on Lithium for its vehicles could soon face even tighter resource constraints than we face today with oil.”
  • We’ll be at the mercy of lithium-rich countries like Chile if we subsidize electric cars and create an over-reliance on them in the market.
  • Prices will skyrocket as lithium deposits run out. This will make not just cars, but laptop computers and anything else that uses batteries, vastly more expensive.
  • Conclusion: Don’t make us utterly dependent on lithium through government subsidies.

6. Grid overload

  • According to Scientific American, the transformers that line every street cannot handle the increased power-load from electric car owners charging their vehicles every night.
  • Adoption of electric car subsidies, without upgrading the grid, will result in rolling blackouts across the United States, as transformers begin shorting out.
  • If we do upgrade the grid, this will be ridiculously expensive.


Conclusion: the government should not promote electric vehicles through subsidy. Thanks all for reading. Vote Con!

Citations

[1] http://tinyurl.com...

[2] http://tinyurl.com...

[3] Ibid

[4] http://tinyurl.com...

[5] http://tinyurl.com...


Debate Round No. 4
39 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
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