Ezra Klein notices something important:
The center of our decarbonization strategy is an almost unimaginably large buildup of wind and solar power. To put some numbers to that: A plausible path to decarbonization, modeled by researchers at Princeton, sees wind and solar using up to 590,000 square kilometers — which is roughly equal to the land mass of Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Ohio, Rhode Island and Tennessee put together. “The footprint is very, very large, and people don’t really understand that,” Danny Cullenward, co-author of Making Climate Policy Work, told me.
Obviously that is not going to happen. Which is why we need something else: most likely that will eventually be nuclear and geothermal, but over the next 15 years it means natural gas. This is also an important point:
The old theory was that we would price carbon, and the market would take care of the planning for us. But we never passed a national carbon tax or cap-and-trade plan. Other countries rely on much more centralized planning by the national government, but our federal government doesn’t have that authority or that capacity. What we’re betting on now is coordination, in part greased by money. But it needs to happen at a scale and speed unlike anything in our recent history. We are already failing to build infrastructure on budget and on time. How will the fractured systems struggling to deliver those projects now begin building more projects, and building them at a far-faster pace?
What the Biden administration is trying to do is just very hard within the US system. Building long-distance transmission lines is a nightmare because there are so many possible stumbling blocks, and building solar farms is getting harder and harder because of local opposition.