New Report: Electric Cars Are Putting the Brakes on Pollution

Media Contacts
Heather Leibowitz

Environment New York Research and Policy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:          July 2nd, 2014         

New Report: Electric Cars Are Putting the Brakes on Pollution  

[New York, NY]—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 York Research and Policy Center. In just the last two years, annual sales of electric vehicles have increased by 500 percent.

“It’s time to charge ahead,” said Heather Leibowitz, Director of Environment New York. “It’s not just because electric cars 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 protect our climate.”

The report, “Driving Cleaner: More Electric Vehicles Mean Less Pollution,” shows that electric vehicles could prevent more than 1,758,000 million metric tons of climate-changing carbon pollution annually in New York by 2025. That’s the equivalent of saving more than 197,817,000 gallons of gasoline per year, or eliminating tailpipe pollution from 370,000 of today’s cars and trucks.

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

“EV’s are here now. Cleaner, better for the environment, fun to drive,” said Carl Vogel, member of the Board of Directors for the Electric Auto Association. “In addition to the environmental impact fossil fuel vehicles create, our country is still importing half our oil which means money leaves our country. Outreach and education is essential to reach the public to further accelerate EV adoption.”

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.

“Having led the successful effort to continue allowing Tesla to sell its cars in New York State, I’m proud to stand with Environment New York to celebrate the benefits of electric vehicles,” said State Assemblyman David  Buchwald (D-Westchester). “I thank Environment New York for writing this vital report on the environmental and economic advantages of this emerging technology.”

“But we need more electric vehicles on the road,” said Leibowitz. “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.”

“In 2006, documentarian Chris Paine asked “Who Killed the Electric Car?” Today, companies like Tesla here in the 27th Senate District have brought the electric car back to life,” said New York State Senator Brad Hoylman. “Environment New York’s study underscores the need for our state and federal governments to do even more to encourage car companies to produce zero emission vehicles, and make it easier for consumers to drive them.”

Thanks in part to smart policies adopted by states like 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:

  • New York should follow through on the ambitious goals for electric vehicle deployment set through the Zero Emission Vehicle program. In particular, with the electric vehicle action plan that Governor Cuomo announced at the end of May, New York has an unprecedented opportunity to put more electric vehicles on the road.
  • 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 York currently offers up to a $5,000 tax credit for the purchasing and installation of electric vehicle charging property.
  • New York 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. New York’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), in particular, aims for 30 percent renewable energy by 2015.  
  • 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 York should support and implement them.


“The debate is over: global warming is happening, and we have a responsibility to take steps now to address it to protect vulnerable populations and infrastructure,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF-Manhattan). “Given the realities of a changing climate, the state has a responsibility to provide incentives to industry and consumers to help promote the development and deployment of electric vehicles and other green technology.  Electric vehicles, powered by clean energy transmitted from a smart grid, will help New York get one step closer to a carbon-free future, and Environment New York’s report will help to pave the way.”

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



Environment New York is a statewide, citizen-based environmental advocacy organization.  Our professional staff combines independent research, practical ideas, and tough-minded advocacy to overcome the opposition of powerful special interests and win real results for New York’s environment. As part of Environment America, we fight to protect our air, water, and open spaces here in New York, in state captials across the country, and in Washington, D.C.

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