New Report: Electric Cars Are Putting the Brakes on Pollution

Environment Colorado Reseach and Policy Center

For more information, contact:                 
Charlotte Bromley, 303-573-3871 x 320, [email protected]

DENVER— Electric vehicles could prevent more than 365 000 metric tons of climate-changing carbon pollution annually in Colorado by 2025, according to a new Environment Colorado report released today. That’s the equivalent of saving more than 41 million gallons of gasoline per year, or eliminating tailpipe pollution from 77,000 of today’s cars and trucks.

Now, with strong implementation of President Obama’s Clean Power Plan and the development of more renewable energy, electric vehicles are set to deliver even greater benefits for the environment.

“It’s time to charge ahead,” said Charlotte Bromley, Field Organizer, Environment Colorado. “Electric cars are speedy, quiet and cool-looking, and they’re also one of the most important tools we have – along with EPA’s Clean Power Plan – to break our dependence on fossil fuels, clean up our air, improve our health and protect our climate.”

The report, Driving Cleaner: More Electric Vehicles Mean Less Pollution, shows that more than 220,000 electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles are on America’s roads today, delivering real benefits for our health and our environment. In just the last two years, annual sales of electric vehicles have increased by 500 percent.

Electric cars are cleaner than vehicles that run on oil, even when charged with coal-fired power, according to Environment Colorado’s report. That’s because electric motors are much more efficient than the internal combustion engine. And as our electricity system incorporates more wind, solar and other forms of zero-emission energy, electric cars will only get cleaner.

Ultimately, an electric vehicle charged completely with wind or solar power can operate with little to no impact on public health or contribution to global warming. “The electric is the only car that can become cleaner as it gets older, providing the electric grid becomes cleaner,” said David McNeil, Secretary of the Denver Electric Vehicle Council.

“Having more electric cars on the road will reduce air pollution significantly and create to healthy cities for us, the elderly and our children,” added Denise Clark, President of the Colorado Association of Naturopathic Doctors. “This could save us millions in health care costs just from reducing the incidence of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and heart disease.  All of us – those that live in cities or commute here for work – have a right to breathe healthy air.”

With new advanced cars – whether a plug-in hybrid model like the Chevy Volt, or a fully electric model like the Nissan Leaf, or the Tesla Model-S – Americans can travel increasingly longer distances on electricity alone.

“But we need more electric vehicles on the road,” said Bromley. “So we’re calling on our leaders to get in the driver’s seat and make electric cars as convenient, affordable and widespread as cars currently powered by oil.”

Thanks in part to smart policies adopted by states like California, Oregon, and New York and the Obama administration, most major automobile manufacturers are now offering fully electric or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles powered primarily by electricity instead of gasoline.

However, there is much more that governments can do to accelerate the market for electric vehicles and make them a viable and attractive choice for more drivers. The report recommends the following:

  • The EPA should help clean up the electricity system by finalizing the recently announced federal carbon pollution standards for power plants, and Colorado should support and implement them.
  • Colorado should set ambitious goals for electric vehicle deployment. For example, in his 2011 State of the Union address, President Obama set a goal of deploying 1 million electric vehicles in the United States by 2015. To help make this goal possible, the Economic Recovery Act provided billions in funds for electric vehicle factories and charging stations. Colorado could contribute by adopting the Zero Emission Vehicle program, which would require automakers to sell more electric cars here.
  • State and local governments could also contribute by making it easier for people to own and drive electric vehicles. For example, while Colorado offers up to a $6,000 tax credit we should also follow Washington’s lead in offering a sales tax exemption for electric vehicles. Ensuring convenient access to charging infrastructure is also important, and Colorado could continue to improve access to charging stations.

Colorado is ahead of the curve when it comes to meeting our obligation to stop global warming. That’s because we are a renewable energy leader: We were the 1st state in the country to implement citizen-approved renewable energy standards. These standards require investor-owned energy utilities to produce 30% of their energy from renewable sources by 2020, as well as requiring smaller co-ops to produce 20% of their energy from renewable sources on the same timeline.

“Electric motors are always much more efficient than gasoline engines are.  As a matter of fact, I left my house today with 95 miles of charge available, and when I got 5 miles to downtown it said I had 95 miles available because it regenerates automatically,” said Colorado Representative Max Tyler, owner of a Nissan Leaf. “Now just try to do that with a gasoline engine car, see if you can develop fuel as you’re going down the road – it doesn’t happen.”

“Let’s steer toward a safer climate and a cleaner, healthier future,” said Bromley. “Future generations will thank us for it.”


Environment Colorado is a statewide, citizen-based environmental advocacy organization working for clean air, clean water, and open space. For more information, visit