Bad Air Days are Good for Clean Transportation

By · August 06, 2012

Los Angeles - Photo courtesy of WikiMedia Commons

The EPA's naughty list includes several refinery-rich regions in Texas that are also promoting electric vehicles in Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston through NRG's eVgo program, as well other hotbeds of EV activity including Phoenix, the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Washington DC, New York, and several others. Photo courtesy of WikiMedia Commons.

Here is irony at its finest: in many places that refine petroleum products, the air quality has gotten so bad that residents are moving away from the cars that are their target customers.

During the opening session at the Plug-in 2012 Conference in San Antonio, Elaina Ball, the vice president of technical services and energy solutions at utility CPS Energy noted the region has been close to the EPA's limits on air quality. Having sufficiently high pollutants to violate the Clean Air Act earns an area the "non-attainment" designation by the EPA, which has serious consequences, including the loss of highway and transit funding, and requires shifting to cleaner transportation fuels.

Ball said that CPS is combatting the air quality problem by replacing coal power with solar, and by promoting electric vehicle adoption by installing 120 electric vehicle charging stations. In addition to being home to several refineries, San Antonio also has several CO2-intensive cement plants, one of which is adding carbon capture technology.

The EPA's naughty list includes several refinery-rich regions in Texas that are also promoting electric vehicles in Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston through NRG's eVgo program, as well other hotbeds of EV activity including Phoenix, the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Washington DC, New York, and several others. Greenville, South Carolina, which is also concerned about achieving the notorious "non-attainment" designation, is home to the Proterra electric bus company, but in another irony, doesn't have the money to switch its bus fleet to the vehicles produced there.

Even cash-strapped state governments will eventually find the dollars for alternative transportation and clean energy generation sources such as wind and solar, since paying the cleantech premium is still more cost-effective than hitting the non-attainment wall and losing out on those precious federal funds that create jobs and keep incumbents in office. The EPA's non-attainment rules are effective in forcing change in transportation and power production when conditions become unhealthy (despite the state of Texas now suing to overturn ozone rules). For the nascent EV market, the EPA is an excellent driver.

Comments

· · 2 years ago

Why not using natural gas instead of this costly and polluting fuel that they do in these refineries. Forget bev to replace refinery products. Bev are just a diversion sponsored by international goverments like saudi-arabia, russia, venezuela, u.s.a, interpol, afhganistan, lybia.

· · 2 years ago

"Bev are just a diversion sponsored by international goverments like saudi-arabia, russia, venezuela, u.s.a, interpol, afhganistan, lybia."

. . . and don't forget the aliens who make crop circles with their flying saucers and the Illuminati thugs circling overhead at night in unmarked black helicopters, gorr. Honestly, you need to finally back up these conspiracy theory fairy tales with some sort of verifiable source.

As for natural gas, it's now cheap and it's always going to burn cleaner than coal. But there needs to be some real E.P.A. oversight, so that rampant and unregulated fracking doesn't destroy all the land where that gas resides. Having natural gas displace coal to burn for electricity (which it pretty much has done in the U.S. recently) has brought CO2 levels way down, and this is the good news. While natural gas is being used to produce electricity for our household needs, it will be doing well to produce electricity to recharge EV batteries. But, in the meantime, we still need to keep installing wind turbines and PV solar to displace as much of these combustible non-renewables as possible. Even with fracking, natural gas is cleaner than nuclear, petroleum (especially tar sand) and coal. But it's not a panacea.

EVs are the ultimate flex fuel vehicles. You can produce electricity from a variety of sources: some clean, some not. The goal is to move towards cleaner sources and modernize the grid, while beginning to run our personal transportation directly from it . . . not to simply replace one sort of carbon-emitting liquid fuel with another liquid or gas one that is only marginally cleaner.

· Frank the Volt Owner (not verified) · 2 years ago

Yea, I'm tired of gorr too. Hydrogen seems like a good idea, but most comes from oil refining. Yes it comes from water, but is a horrible energy medium. Plus its hard to handle. Maybe one day someone will come up with a soultion to these problems, but right now the answer lies with grid tied solar charged - EREV/BEV. Many people have implemented this solution, it's doable at the present. Hydrogen is not.

· Marsha Schatzman (not verified) · 2 years ago

The fallacy of so called green free energy is that, it seems to be free. Coal and oil is free to those who want to harvest it. Same with solar and wind but the problem is efficiently harvesting it. Coal and Oil would be looked upon a concentrated, stored solar energy; it's in a convenient form. Sunshine is solar now, in current time energy, like hydro power. It's potential is diluted by incidence, atmospheric filtering, and efficiencies of the collector. Currently, it requires expensive technology in order to harvest it with high maintenance attention. Coal, oil and nuclear have shown greater advances in efficiencies of utilization. Marsha Schatzman

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