The Coal-Powered Secret of Some Electric Cars

Coal-powered states make it dirty to 'em power up
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 15, 2012 3:21 PM CDT
Are Electric Cars So Green? Depends Where You Live
A man demonstrates the recharging of an electric car battery as he plugs in a Kangoo Renault electric car at a charging point at the EVER exhibition in Monaco, Thursday, March 22, 2012.   (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau)

(Newser) – Your electric car (or the one you dream of having) is greener than your neighbor's gas guzzler—right? Well, scientists now say it depends on where you live, the New York Times reports. For people in states that use natural gas, nuclear power, or hydroelectric power to fire up the electric grid, the answer is yes—because powering up the car battery doesn't send greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. For coal-burning states, the news is not so good.

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In fact, electric car drivers across a wide swath of middle states will send more global warming emissions into the air than someone who has a top gasoline-engine subcompact. Put another way, only about 45% of Americans live in states where an electric vehicle will "out-green" a gas-driven car with 50 mpg combined city-highway driving. (See a full state-by-state map here.) Despite the bad news, authors of the new report are pressuring car-makers to "deliver viable alternatives to the oil-fueled internal-combustion engine—ie, vehicles boasting zero or near-zero emissions.” (Read more electric cars stories.)

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