A sure as night follows day, you can count on electric vehicle (EV) critics to turn generally positive comments regarding the environmental impact of EVs into negative ones. The study that critics refer to, Life cycle air quality impacts of conventional and alternative light-duty transportation in the United States, is authored by three engineering professors at the University of Minnesota and published recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study reinforces most of what wind power and EV advocates thought all along, that the technologies (wind and EVs) are advantages to health and air quality, but more to that point later.
The great delight the critics took from the report is one unsurprising comment, that an electric vehicle charged by coal-fired generation “increases monetized environmental health impacts by 80% or more relative to using conventional gasoline.” Based on that alone, several stories bounced around the internet with the headline that essentially read: Electric vehicles worse than gasoline powered cars for environmental health. Now if EVs critics would like to rail against coat-fired generation, have at it. But that was not the thrust of the report.
In a nutshell, the authors examined 10 drivetrain scenarios, such as conventional hybrids, diesel, natural gas, ethanol, and EVs charged by several generation sources and drew conclusions as to which has the most and least environmental health impact. To illustrate how easily critics are distracted, here is the sentence in the abstract (first page, first paragraph) that follows the one quoted above and which critics chose to ignore: “Conversely, EVs powered by low-emitting electricity from natural gas, wind, or solar power reduce environmental health impacts by 50% or more.”
And that should have been the source of the headlines. Something like: Cleanest transportation is an EV powered by wind, and all home grown.
When you have to deceive to make a point, you’re on the wrong side of the argument.
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