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Electric Cars Among Dirtiest Transportation Options According to Comprehensive Study

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BERKELEY, Calif., July 1, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Electric cars lead to hidden environmental and health damages and are likely more harmful than gasoline cars and other transportation options according to a peer-reviewed report published today in IEEE Spectrum. The report, Unclean at Any Speed, indicates that the recent billions spent on subsidies for the Tesla, Nissan Leaf, and other electric cars may actually be doing more harm than good after considering full electric vehicle lifecycles. It recommends shifting electric car subsidies toward more robust options backed by research, including emissions testing, bicycle infrastructure, smog reduction initiatives, and land-use changes.

(Photo: )
(Photo: )

The paper's author, Ozzie Zehner, was once an electric car enthusiast but has since changed his position. "Upon closer consideration, moving from petroleum-fueled vehicles to electric cars starts to appear tantamount to shifting from one brand of cigarettes to another," writes Zehner, a visiting scholar at the University of CaliforniaBerkeley and the author of Green Illusions (

His paper identifies how electric cars merely shift negative impacts from one place to another: "most electric-car assessments analyze only the charging of the car. This is an important factor indeed. But a more rigorous analysis would consider the environmental impacts over the vehicle's entire life cycle, from its construction through its operation and on to its eventual retirement at the junkyard."

The paper also analyzes how electric car research is performed, detailing what is counted, what is left out, and why. It also points to corporate sponsorship of electric vehicle research at Georgetown University, MIT, University of Michigan, Stanford University, Indiana University, University of California – Davis, University of Delaware, and the University of Colorado. "The findings of corporate-supported studies are not necessarily wrong," remarks Zehner, "but the researchers are too frequently asking the wrong questions."

His report details how political priorities and corporate influence have created a flawed impression that electric cars significantly reduce transportation impacts. Meanwhile, the electric car's presumed cleanliness has not held up to scrutiny from broad, publicly funded studies from the National Academy of Sciences, the National Science Foundation and the Congressional Budget Office. For instance, the National Academies projected technology advancements out to 2030, and still found no health or environmental benefit to driving an electric vehicle.

Full article with info-graphics:

To arrange an interview, contact: Nancy Parker, (415) 501-0073, Email or Nancy T. Hantman, 212-419-7561, Email

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SOURCE Ozzie Zehner

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