Still Looking For The Perpetual Motion Machine

Investor’s Business Daily posted an article today about the environmental footprint of electric cars.  The article quotes Mark Gaffigan, who authored a GAO report on the impact of electric cars on the environment:

“If you are using coal-fired power plants, and half the country’s electricity comes from coal-powered plants, are you just trading one greenhouse gas emitter for another?” asks Mark Gaffigan, co-author of the GAO report. The report itself notes: “Reductions in CO2 emissions depend on generating electricity used to charge the vehicles from lower-emission sources of energy.”

Electric cars use electricity–in America a large part of our electricity comes from coal, so we are trading one carbon fuel source for another–we are still using carbon based fuel.  The article also points out that there are many unanswered questions about what the environmental hazards would be after a collision between an electric car and an eighteen-wheeler.

There are other questions regarding the sources of and disposal of the lithium involved in the batteries of electric cars.  Bolivia, a country ruled by a leader who is not really a friend of America is the major source of lithium.  The other question is how much impact the manufacture of lithium batteries has on the environment.

The electric car may be a great idea for the future, but we are not yet ready to make a full transition to the new technology.  Hopefully, we will further investigate the unintended consequences of switching to electric cars before we fully commit to the change.