Electric Vehicle Pollution
Electric Vehicles have taken the market by storm since the early 2000’s. Many large motor companies such as Ford, Chevy, Toyota, and Honda have started incorporating electric or hybrid vehicles in the lineup with the popularity of electric cars increasing. Some car companies have started from the ground up just with an electric line of vehicles such as Tesla Motors. Tesla Motors was founded in 2003 and has become a multi billion dollar company, helping its founder the second richest man in the world. The market for electric vehicles has boosted thanks to the awareness pollution that is affecting our earth and the misconception that electric vehicles have no negative effect on the earth. This is because of false information that has been spread which has led to many states in the US making electric cars required by 2035. Information from sources such as Energy.gov’s office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy have made some claims that do not exactly hold up.
The Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Resources starts by talking about the amount of emissions that gasoline and diesel cars emit unlike electric cars saying “Direct emissions are emitted through the tailpipe, through evaporation from the fuel system, and during the fueling process… All- electric vehicles produce zero direct emissions, which specifically helps improve air quality in urban areas.” According to the union of Concerned Scientists, gasoline cars that have direct emissions introduced into the atmosphere such as particle matter such as soot, Volatile organic matter which introduces smog into the atmosphere, Nitrogen oxides, Carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and greenhouse gasses which pollutes the atmosphere and is a large factor in climate change. The article is correct in the downsides in gasoline and diesel vehicles, but provides false logic and even twists its words in order to make electric cars seem better. The article states that there is zero direct emission, which is true, but the indirect emissions from power plants are just as immense. Instead of tailpipes electric cars have smokestacks as exhausts connected to the factories which then power them.
The office of Energy Efficiency says electric cars “reduce the emissions that contribute to climate change and smog, improving public health and reducing ecological damage.” These factories still emit most if not all of the same chemicals that gasoline cars emit. The American Lung Associations has articles that speak on the matter of pollution from coal, natural gas, oil, and biomass powered electric plants such as where they speak about the different kinds of pollution and its health effects. These pollutants include particle pollution like soot, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and other pollutants which can cause cancer, harm to the nervous system, birth defects, impaired lung function and many more. These electric vehicles do not help improve air quality whatsoever.
Electric vehicles do reduce pollution in urban areas as electric cars do not emit any of these pollutants while driving through these dense areas. While this may seem like a good result of electric cars it is in fact not. These electric power plants, especially coal power plants are built outside these urban areas in much less populated areas. In New Jersey there are only two coal power plants. Both power plants are located directly along the Delaware river in South Jersey very close to each other, with another coal power plant up the River in Chesterfield PA. These power plants introduce these chemicals and soot directly along the Delaware wear anything that possibly lands in its water is let out to sea. This does not do as promised by reducing the ecological damage, in fact according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency 28 percent of all emissions are from transportation 59 percent of those emissions are from cars, and 27 percent of all emissions are from electricity production. The difference between Electricity production and Transportation is an only one percent difference and with the increase in electric vehicles overall Electricity production emissions will increase while vehicle emissions decrease. Electric cars will become a tradeoff with gasoline cars.
An argument provided is that emissions are released in the process of creating gasoline while electric cars do not go through this process. The EERE says “Life cycle emissions include all emissions related to fuel and vehicle production, processing, distribution, use, and recycling/disposal. For example, for a conventional gasoline vehicle, emissions are produced when petroleum is extracted from the ground, refined to gasoline, distributed to stations, and burned in vehicles. Like direct emissions, life cycle emissions include a variety of harmful pollutants and GHGs.” The production of an electric car is not the cleanest process either. Electric cars need many heavy and toxic metals to produce the batteries, motors, and circuitry in each car. The process of mining and refining these heavy metals also results in emissions, along with this the same process producing coal and fuel is also needed for 60 percent of electricity.
To counter this point the EERE says “Charging your EV on renewable energy such as solar or wind minimizes these emissions even more.” Solar power is a great work around that would reduce the emissions from electricity production as it is clean in producing power. The downside is that in order for everyone to have an electric car everyone would need to have solar panels on their roof in order to run on clean energy. The power from a solar panel is enough to charge a vehicle, but with everyone in a household using an electric vehicle it is possible that this is still not enough. On top of this, solar panels require the mining of heavy and precious metals along with the usage of toxic substances. In order for everyone to buy an electric car mining would have to largely increase for the demand of these substances which again would result in emissions. The mining of these metals and creation of solar panels can be hazardous for some workers which could possibly breath in silicon dust. A better alternative is to first focus on the industrial market mode of transportation as these trucks take up 23 percent of all emissions created from transportation. Companies such as Amazon and UPS have large warehouses which can accommodate many solar panels which could charge many vehicles in their fleet.