Study: Your all-electric car may not be so green; ethanol not so green either

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  • Yanquetino Ivins, UT
    Dec. 20, 2014 10:09 a.m.

    This headline actually misrepresents the study. It compares the pollutants when charging electric vehicles using only coal, only natural gas, only wind, etc. It then compares those results with emissions from gas-burning cars. However, there are two important caveats.

    First, the study did not likewise determine the upstream pollutants for gasoline using only coal, only natural gas, only wind, etc. Second, no utility region in this country uses exclusively one source of energy. The study is looking at the extremes in theory --not the grid in practice.

    The results in practice for our utility region (NWPP) is that a gasoline car would need to get 86 MPG or higher to produce fewer greenhouse gases than an electric vehicle.

    Of course, naysayers always claim that those results are inaccurate because there are more coal-fired plants in Utah than throughout the rest of our NWPP utility region. So what if we pretend that electrons and emissions hit a brick wall at our state boundaries? A gas car would still need to get 45 MPG or higher to emit fewer GHG than an EV.

    Moreover, as the grid gets cleaner, so will EVs. Not so with gas cars.

  • Mike_Salisbury1978 Denver, CO
    Dec. 18, 2014 7:55 a.m.

    Unfortunately, this story does not accurately reflect the actual emissions from vehicles along the Wasatch Front. While coal is the source for the majority of electricity in the Wasatch Front, none of the coal-fired power plants are located around the metro area and therefore do not contribute directly to the region's air quality issues. The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project did a detailed analysis of the air quality impacts of electric vehicles as compared to gasoline vehicles just over a year ago and found that electric vehicles reduce emissions of all harmful pollutants when driven in the Wasatch Front. For Particulate Matter, which is so critical during the wintertime inversions here, electric vehicles emit between 50% and 65% less than a gasoline vehicle.
    Further, as Utah's electricity mix grows cleaner over time (less coal and more renewables and natural gas) electric vehicles will also become cleaner.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    Dec. 16, 2014 12:35 p.m.

    Too bad they didn't go for the extra credit and explain how much pollution is created when they mine the materials used in the batteries.

  • Hemlock Salt Lake City, UT
    Dec. 16, 2014 11:43 a.m.

    In other words, there's an elephant in your living room.

  • KDave Moab, UT
    Dec. 16, 2014 8:18 a.m.

    Further proof that all a politicion knows is how to win an election.