New Report Documents Environmental Benefits of Electric Cars

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Environment New Jersey Research & Policy Center

Paramus—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 New Jersey. In just the last two years, annual sales of electric vehicles have increased by 500 percent.

“It’s time to charge ahead,” said Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey Research & Policy Center. “Electric cars are starting to take off, but we need more electric vehicles on the road. Gov. Christie has been a drag on electric vehicles from his action to ban sales of Teslas to refusing to join our Northeast neighbors to promote electric cars.”

The report, “Driving Cleaner: More Electric Vehicles Mean Less Pollution,” shows that electric vehicles could prevent more than 493,000 metric tons of climate-changing carbon pollution annually in New Jersey by 2025. That’s the equivalent of saving more than 55 million gallons of gasoline per year, or eliminating tailpipe pollution from more than 104,000 of today’s cars and trucks.

“As an electric car driver and an avid fan of new technologies I’m honored to be a part of bringing more electric cars to New Jersey roads. At the state level, I will work to prepare our roadways for the inevitable increase of electric cars with more charging stations located in convenient locations,” said Asm. Tim Eustace (D-Maywood) and lead sponsor of A3216. “These cars are better for the environment, our health and our security as a nation; we need electric cars in every driveway in New Jersey!”

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

“Electric vehicles represent a key way to solve our fossil fuel dependence and the climate crisis, while at the same time creating good manufacturing jobs,” said Rick Engler, director of the NJ Work Environment Council. “Greening our electric grid and creating an electric car infrastructure must be part of a new green job economy.”

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.

Thanks in part to smart clean cars policies adopted by states like New Jersey 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.

“Consumers’ ability to purchase EVs should not be limited by government, in fact just the opposite,” said Chuck Feinberg, chairman of the Clean Cities Coalition. “This Environment New Jersey report points out in a very clear way the need for our leaders to lead – all levels of government should actively promote the proliferation of EVs.  EVs can and will play a critical role in advancing our economic, energy and environmental security.”

The Legislature has started to take steps to bolster electric car infrastructure, including bills to encourage development of electric vehicle charging stations in transportation projects (A1719), as well as requiring the electric vehicle recharging stations at rest areas along the Turnpike & Parkway (A17128) and a public-private pilot program for charging stations (A2668).

However, there is much more state government 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:

New Jersey should follow through on the ambitious goals for electric vehicle deployment set through the Zero Emission Vehicle program. Right now, the state is falling behind.  Eight other states, including New York, are following through with the electric vehicle action plan announced at the end of May, including many of our Northeast neighbors. The Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Action Plan is aimed at spurring sales of 3.3 million zero-emission vehicles by 2025 through consumer incentives and regulatory action.  

New Jersey should work with neighboring states to accelerate electric vehicle deployment, not ignore them. Among the actions outlined in the eight-state alliance’s plan are efforts to promote installation of recharging stations at workplaces, expanding both cash and noncash incentives for consumers to buy electric cars; push dealers to more aggressively promote electric cars; and remove regulatory barriers to installation of charging stations.

  • Governments at all levels should make it easier for people to own and drive electric vehicles. For example, Georgia offers up to a $5,000 tax credit and Colorado offers up to a $6,000 tax credit, while Washington offers a sales tax exemption for electric vehicles. Ensuring convenient access to charging infrastructure is also important
  • New Jersey should 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.
  • And finally, the EPA should help clean up the electricity system by finalizing the recently announced federal carbon pollution standards for power plants, and New Jersey should support and implement them.

“I’ve been driving electric cars for the past five years and powering them from the solar array on the roof of my home in Chester, New Jersey. I’ve driven over 140,000 zero-emission miles and have enjoyed every one of them. Electric cars provide not only a cleaner driving experience, but a better one. They are quieter, can accelerate faster, and offer a more relaxing driving experience. Driving on sunshine is indeed the future, and you can experience it today,” said Tom Moloughney, the state director for Plug In America and owner of Nauna’s Bella Casa restaurant in Montclair, which includes its own charging station.

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