New Report: Electric Cars Are Putting the Brakes on Air Pollution in Washington

Environment Washington Reseach and Policy Center

For more information, contact:   
Travis Madsen, Environment Washington: (720) 937-2609
Gov. Jay Inslee’s Press Office: (360) 902-4136
Scott DeWees, Western WA Clean Cities: (206) 689-4054
Steven Lough, Seattle EV Assoc.: (206) 524-1351

Seattle—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 Washington Research & 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 Travis Madsen, Senior Program Manager for Environment Washington. “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 360,000 metric tons of climate-changing carbon pollution annually in Washington by 2025. That’s the equivalent of saving more than 40 million gallons of gasoline per year, or eliminating tailpipe pollution from 76,000 of today’s cars and trucks.

“Transportation accounts for nearly half of our green house gas emissions, so getting more electric vehicles on the road is important for Washington state,” said Charles Knutson, Senior Policy Advisor for Gov. Jay Inslee. “The Governor recently issued an executive order to extend our high-speed charging network, maintain and expand electric vehicle incentives and further electrify our public fleets.”

“We applaud our region’s leaders for helping position Washington State as one of the best places in the nation to own an electric vehicle,” said Scott DeWees, Western Washington Clean Cities co-coordinator. “By installing EV charging stations, integrating EVs into their fleets, and analyzing how EV ownership barriers can be addressed, local governments are paving the way for more and more people to embrace this technology. In our region alone, Clean Cities-supported charging stations have provided enough electricity for over 800,000 petroleum-free miles.”

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

“Our clean hydro-power based grid here means that electric vehicles in Washington state are much, much cleaner than traditional cars,” said Steven Lough, President Emeritus of the Seattle Electric Vehicle Association, a local non-profit working to educate the public and promote the adoption of electric vehicles.

“Plug-in vehicles are not only good for the environment and the economy; they are also a blast to drive, cheaper to own and more convenient,” Said Chad Switters, a board member of Plug-In America and a Seattle-area Tesla driver. “Once you drive electric, you don’t want to go back.”

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 Madsen. “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 cities like Seattle, states like Washington, 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:

  • Washington should adopt the Zero Emission Vehicle program, which would set ambitious targets for electric vehicle deployment.
  • Governments at all levels should make it easier for people to own and drive electric vehicles. For example, Washington offers a sales and use tax exemption for electric vehicles; Georgia offers up to a $5,000 tax credit and Colorado offers up to a $6,000 tax credit. Ensuring convenient access to charging infrastructure is also important.
  • America should generate at least 25 percent of its electricity from clean, renewable sources of energy by 2025. Washington currently has a requirement to reach 15 percent renewable by 2020, plus developing all cost-effective conservation.
  • And finally, the EPA should help clean up the electricity system by finalizing the recently announced federal carbon pollution standards for power plants, and Washington should support and implement them.

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

A copy of the report is available online at:


Environment Washington Research & Policy Center is a 501(c)(3) organization. We are dedicated to protecting our air, water and open spaces. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public and decision-makers, and help the public make their voices heard in local, state and national debates over the quality of our environment and our lives. Find out more at