USA Today: plug-in vehicles may increase air pollution

Today's USA Today has an article that talks about two studies on plug-in hybrids, both published last year, that "have yet to trigger alarms." The studies, one by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the other by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, found plug-in hybrids and electric cars might increase certain types of air pollution in specific areas.

The NRDC study says that in regions heavily dependent on energy from coal, "there is a possibility for significant increases of soot and mercury" given an increase in PHEVs. The NRDC study also says that when charged with electricity produced by a coal plant, PHEVs have "higher global warming pollution compared to a non-pluggable hybrid electric vehicle." The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency study found that "a PHEV has marginally lower emissions for all emittants, except CO 2 and SO 2." The increase in SO 2 emissions is 182 percent "due to the high sulfur content of the coal combusted to generate electricity."

When will the alarms trigger? Are PHEVs headed for the same U-turn of support from the green community that biofuels ran into?

[Source: USA Today]

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