New Study Says EVs Actually Create Pollution in the Midwest

A new study says that electric vehicles are causing pollution in the Midwest.

The study, published in American Economic Review, asserts that because the Midwest relies heavily on coal for electricity, the region sees higher pollution due to the increased presence of EVs. This is so, it says, at least when compared with other regions, which don’t use coal to produce electricity.

The study was carried out by a team at the University of North Carolina. The researchers looked at air pollution caused by vehicles and how it varied from region to region.

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“In many locations, the comparison between a gasoline vehicle and an electric one is really a comparison between burning gasoline or a mix of coal and natural gas to move the vehicle,” the study says.

The researchers were comparing pollution by both region and type of vehicle in order to figure out what value subsidies for EVs have. In the case of the Midwest, the researchers found that subsidies for EVs didn’t reduce pollution, but increased it, thanks to the burning of coal to generate electricity.

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While the study covered immediate emissions (such as the emissions produced as coal is burned to generate electricity), it did not account for other environmental costs related to production of materials, nor did it take into account the effect of environmental regulations on pollution. It also assumed that our current electrical grid will not improve and that current fuel technology will also remain the same going forward.

Because the study doesn’t take the effect of environmental regulations into account, that means the study is assuming that as more EVs are sold, there will be an increase in coal burning. That actually wouldn’t happen, due to environmental regulations.

“With these caveats in mind, our main results show that the subsidy for electric vehicles is not justified by environmental benefits,” the researchers said. They also said “a combination of innovation spillovers, learning by doing, and dynamic changes to the electricity grid.”

American Economic Review via Inverse

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