We’ve made this general point before, but for all of their other economic and environmental benefits, electric vehicles are only as green as the power plants that generate the electricity to charge them.
“If the batteries get charged with power from clean sources such as wind and solar, the EVs contribute little to carbon emissions in the atmosphere,” a recent article in the Automotive News points out. But if the juice comes from fossil fuels such as coal, the results are not nearly so great.
Which is one big reason why we welcome the Obama administration’s announcement early this month directing states to cut carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. The plans call for a national decrease of 30 percent from 2005 to 2030.
Cars and trucks are the other major source of carbon pollution, which is one reason why consumers, manufacturers and government bodies have embraced the potential of electric vehicles. In fact, the EPA and NHTSA have already established tough new vehicle emission standards. So now is a good time to get started working on reducing carbon emissions from the other end, at the smokestack.
Making our power plants cleaner will mean that our electric vehicles are making an even bigger contribution to a sustainable future. Not to mention the benefits of providing cleaner power for our homes and businesses.
And since so much of the electric vehicle industry is located here in the Great Lakes State, this good news for our environment is also good news for Michigan jobs.
Have a great summer.
Climate & Energy Program Director
The Ecology Center