New Report: Massachusetts’ Commitment to Electric Cars Can Make a Major Dent in Pollution

Environment Massachusetts Research and Policy Center

For more information, contact:           Rob Sargent, 617-747-4317

[BOSTON]—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, according to a new report released today by Environment Massachusetts. In just the last two years, annual sales of electric vehicles have increased by 500 percent.

“Massachusetts officials recognize that it’s time to charge ahead with electric vehicles,” said Rob Sargent, on behalf of Environment Massachusetts. “It’s not just because they are speedy, quiet and cool-looking – they are also one of the most important tools we have to break our dependence on oil, clean up our air, improve our health and tackle the carbon pollution that’s altering our climate.”

The report, “Driving Cleaner: More Electric Vehicles Mean Less Pollution,” shows that electric vehicles could prevent more than 624,000 metric tons of climate-changing carbon pollution annually in Massachusetts by 2025. That’s the equivalent of saving more than 70 million gallons of gasoline per year, or eliminating tailpipe pollution from 131,000 of today’s cars and trucks.

 “The transportation sector accounts for about one-third of the greenhouse gases emitted, so the deployment of more electric and plug-in vehicles is key for Massachusetts to achieve our ambitious goals,” said Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Maeve Vallely Bartlett. “The Patrick Administration has put into place several policies that will help usher in a new era of clean cars, and we are collaborating with other states to get millions of electric vehicles on the road.”

Electric cars are cleaner than vehicles that run on oil, even when charged with coal-fired power, according to Environment Massachusetts’ 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.

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 Sargent. “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 Massachusetts 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:

  • Massachusetts should follow through on the ambitious goals for electric vehicle deployment set through the Zero Emission Vehicle program. In particular, by following through with the electric vehicle action plan that Governor Patrick announced at the end of May, Massachusetts can get more electric vehicles on the road.
  • Governments at all levels should make it easier for people to own and drive electric vehicles. Massachusetts recently joins the list of states offering incentive programs, now providing up to $2,500 toward the purchase of a plug-in hybrid or electric vehicle.
  • Ensuring convenient access to charging infrastructure is also important. An innovative example is Massachusetts’ open grant program that provides eligible businesses up to $25,000 toward the installation of charging stations.
  • Massachusetts can limit carbon pollution from transportation, just like the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative limits carbon pollution from power plants.
  • America should generate at least 25 percent of its electricity from clean, renewable sources of energy by 2025. Governor Patrick’s goals to generate 1,600 MW in solar energy and 2,000 MW in wind energy by 2020 are great steps in the right direction.
  • And finally, the EPA should help clean up the electricity system by finalizing the recently announced federal carbon pollution standards for power plants, and Massachusetts should support and implement them.


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


Environment Massachusetts is a statewide, citizen-supported environmental advocacy organization, working towards a cleaner, greener, healthier future.