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A charging conundrum: Electric car fallacies

| Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015, 9:26 p.m.

That “eco-friendly” car you plug in every night might not be the environmental bargain you think it is, based on a recent study. And depending on where you live, it could be worse than a gas guzzler.

The study by the National Bureau of Economic Research focused on five major “pollutants,” including carbon dioxide and particulate matter. Researchers found that in the Eastern United States, charging up a car overnight does more harm to the environment — based on regional power generation — than filling up at a gas station. Overall, electric cars are about half-a-cent worse per mile environmentally than gas-powered cars, the Daily Mail reports.

Actual “environmental damage” tends to be worse in the Midwest and Northeast, researchers found. But electric cars are better, environmentally, than gas cars in the West, such as Los Angeles, where air tends to trap the latter's emissions, according to the study.

Additionally, federal subsidies for electric vehicles do not help matters because these vehicles, on average, “generate greater environmental externalities” than gasoline vehicles, the authors note.

Simply put, “It's kind of hard to beat gasoline” for public and environmental health, said Julian Marshall, an engineering professor at the University of Minnesota, in a prior study.

Based on the latest study's conclusions, Pennsylvanians who pay a premium for electric vehicles, and taxpayers who subsidize them, are not getting the presumed eco-return on their investment.

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