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There was good reader discussion on yesterday's post about the EPA's decision to only allow the first 200,000 zero-emissions vehicles to count towards the new CAFE emission goals through 2016. Plug-in vehicle advocate Paul Scott weighed in with his own blog post on the topic, and framed the discussion about emissions regulations for electric vehicles (EVs) as one of fairness and the American Way.
The trouble for the EPA, as we noted, is that electricity produced in different areas can have wildly different CO2 emission levels. What's a problem for the EPA, though, is a good thing for the rest of us. The beauty of EVs is that the energy used to power them can literally come from a half-dozen (or more) sources. Sure, flex-fuel vehicles have multiple input streams, in theory, but the reality is that most of these vehicles burn gasoline and, when they do drink ethanol, it's made from only one other source (corn). An EV can easily use solar, wind or tidal energy, as well as coal and nuclear power.
If you're running your EV on wind power, for example, then it's as close to pure zero-emission motoring as you can get. Wind power and solar energy are being added at such a tremendous rate, Scott thinks, that, "the renewable energy being installed each year will far outpace new demand from plug-in cars, probably for decades to come." Given this, and the EPA's insistence that it will assign some sort of CO2 emissions levels to EVs starting in 2016, Scott thinks we need to do the same for all vehicles:
Hear, hear.Lastly, and this is very important, if the EPA deigns it necessary to count the upstream pollution from generating the electricity, then by all rights it should count the upstream pollution from extracting, shipping, refining, and transporting the oil that competes with electricity. To cap it off, be sure to include the electricity used to pump it into the tank at the gas station. All of this energy use creates vast waste and massive pollution and absolutely should be accounted for.
[Source: EVs and Energy]