Study: Electric cars hold greater promise for reducing emissions and lowering US oil imports

Sep 27, 2010

Electric cars hold greater promise for reducing emissions and lowering U.S. oil imports than a national renewable portfolio standard, according to research conducted by Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy.

This assessment is among several contained in a new major policy study the Baker Institute Forum will release at a Sept. 27-28 conference titled "Energy Market Consequences of an Emerging U.S. Carbon Management Policy." The study comprises several academic working papers on a variety of topics, such as carbon pricing, the wind industry, global U.S. carbon and energy strategies, and R&D.

"As the country moves forward to deliberate on energy and climate policy," the executive summary states, "consideration must be given to what policies would best accomplish the stated goals for U.S. policy — a reduction in the need for imported oil and in greenhouse gas emissions." The papers released at the conference seek to "clarify and debunk common myths that currently plague the U.S. energy- and climate-policy debate."

For instance, the Baker Institute analysis found "the single most effective way to reduce U.S. oil demand and foreign imports would be an aggressive campaign to launch electric vehicles into the automotive fleet." In fact, mandating that 30 percent of all vehicles be electric by 2050 would both reduce U.S. oil use by 2.5 million barrels a day beyond the 3 million barrels-per-day savings already expected from new corporate average fuel efficiency standards, and also cut emissions by 7 percent, while the proposed national renewable portfolio standard (RPS) would cut them by only 4 percent over the same time.

Moreover, the researchers found that "business-as-usual market-related trends might propel the United States toward greater oil and self-sufficiency over the next 20 years while scenarios specifically focused on strict carbon caps and pricing or a high carbon tax of $60 a tonne or more could lead to a significant increase in U.S. reliance on oil imports between now and 2025. A carbon tax of $30 a tonne would also increase U.S. dependence on imports of foreign liquefied natural gas (LNG) by 2025."

The Baker Institute researchers foresee natural gas -- reinforced by recent discoveries of vast reserves of shale gas -- playing "a very important role in the U.S. energy mix for decades to come." Under a business-as-usual approach, the United States won't have to import any LNG for decades. And the growth of natural gas will help the environment by lowering the demand for coal.

Explore further: Dismantling Germany's nuclear industry, piece by piece

More information: For more information about the conference, go to bakerinstitute.org/events/ener… on-management-policy

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User comments : 17

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John_balls
not rated yet Sep 27, 2010
Let see they want to mandate 30% of cars to use electric by 2050???? If they are still selling ICE engines for cars by 2030 I would be surprised.
Quantum_Conundrum
not rated yet Sep 27, 2010
It's uninforceable.

Also, $30 per ton carbon tax would increase the cost of coal by about 50%, with no real alternatives in place any time soon. I had calculated it would take an investment on the order of $50 trillion to put enough solar plants in place to completely do away with Coal power.

If you increase the cost of electricity by 50% and you've required 30% of cars to be electric, then mean income and below mean income families will not even be able to afford to own an automobile, because electric is already more expensive to buy and more expensive to operate. Not to mention the extra 50% of their regular electric bill to boot.

NOT TO MENTION, they want to add a national sales tax on top of all of this, on top of all the other taxes people already pay.

Mean income family:

15% Federal income tax
3% state income tax
9% state and local sales tax
$1400 property tax ~3.2% of income
Stamp tax

This is already over 30% of income to taxes for the mean income family...
Quantum_Conundrum
not rated yet Sep 27, 2010
They are talking about a national sales tax of as much as 5% of purchase, which for the mean income family would be around 2200 per year, since the mean income family basicly spends almost all of their income on purchases.
Quantum_Conundrum
not rated yet Sep 27, 2010
Imagine if a dairy company had to pay 5% more per purchase for animal feed and equipment, 5% more for medicines for the animals, and 50% more for electricity and fuels to run equipment.

Then it's 50% more expensive to transport the milk to your grocery, and 50% more expensive for them to keep it in the regrigerator while it's waiting to be purchased, and it costs YOU 50% more to drive to the grocery, and when you get there you then must pay a total of 14% of the GROCER'S PRICE in sales tax.
AkiBola
not rated yet Sep 27, 2010
Captain Obvious says sure, if we power cars by electricity (generated from coal?) then oil imports for producing car fuel will reduce. Hopefully we can tame fusion power and then we are only looking at a way to get from here to there. In the long term, oil, coal and gas, it's going to be all gone. Solar, hydro, wind, geothermal, etc. are all really cool but will not be sufficient by themselves to power humanity into the future.
Quantum_Conundrum
not rated yet Sep 27, 2010
Akibola:

The only cost effective way to replace Coal in the near future is Fission, since Fusion has still not been accomplished.

We already have Hydro everywhere it is viable, and news flash, Hydro does about as much damage to the environment as anything else. They can't even run the Hoover dam at peak efficiency any more because they have to mix the water intake to keep the water temperature from killing the environment downstream. Pluse hydro automatically, totally destroys entire ecosystems upstream.

Did I mention the $50 trillion for solar, has to be replaced about every 25 years?
Quantum_Conundrum
not rated yet Sep 27, 2010
Do you have any idea what this is going to do to sugar cane farmers in Louisiana and Hawaii? Financial ruin, that's what.
ereneon
not rated yet Sep 27, 2010
Just replace some of the cars with high-speed rail like China, Japan, Germany, France, and many other industrial nations are doing with great success. Not only is high-speed rail faster than driving (the fastest are up to about 300 mph) but even if you power them with really dirty coal they are still far more efficient than everyone driving their own car, since the density is so much higher. We could break ground on a nation-wide (or at least up and down the east and west coasts) high-speed rail network right now rather than sitting around dreaming about feasible electric cars or solar being worthwhile.
Quantum_Conundrum
not rated yet Sep 27, 2010
ereneon:

I have made this suggestion before in the past and got no good reviews, as I'm sure others have.

There was a high speed rail company about 10 years ago wanted to install a system in Louisiana for free installation, between baton rouge and new orleans and other locations, and the state and local governments wouldn't allow it.

There is a problem with rails anyway, being once you get from city to city, then what? Walk half way across baton rouge? Have fleets of electric buses standing by to carry people to local destinations?

So its:

1) Walk halfway across town or hire a taxi or bus to get to the train station.

2) Ride train to town nearest your workplace.

3) Hire taxi or bus or walk to work.

4) repeat 3 in reverse.

5) repeat 2 in reverse.

6) repeat 1 in reverse.

Average commuting distance in Louisiana is something like 26 miles, and it is often to a location that wouldn't be accessible by train.
ereneon
not rated yet Sep 27, 2010
That kind of local travel is what light rail and metro systems are best at. You take the high-speed to get between cities, then when you are in the city you take the subway or whatever other light rail/metro system there is. Of course high-speed rail isn't the solution for everything, but I think it's at least part of a viable solution. There are also park-and-ride type systems for people who live in more rural areas. Just drive a short distance to the train station, take the train to the city, then use the city's metro system. A good high-speed system could get you from Baltimore to DC in 20 minutes, Baltimore to NYC in 1 hour, Boston to NYC in 1 hour. This is actually fast enough to beat short range air travel as well, which is also a huge polluter.
Quantum_Conundrum
not rated yet Sep 27, 2010
Cities in Louisiana don't really have metro systems at all. Sure there are some left over stuff in NOLA, but nothing I'm aware of in baton rouge, and nothing at all in smaller cities. In terms of public or commercial transportation there's bus, taxi, or walk.

The only exception is the old Amtrak trains still use the same rail as the heavy freight.
ereneon
not rated yet Sep 27, 2010
Local transport is a major problem as well. Some cities like NYC do a great job, but others like Baltimore don't have much more than slow (often hour late) overpriced buses. For the whole system to work, everything needs to be in place from the local to the inter-state level. Obviously its a huge project, but some countries, like Japan, have been very successful at it. Maybe if we spent some of that $700 billion on a system like this instead of bailing out incompetent banks and companies, we would really be getting somewhere.
flying_finn
not rated yet Sep 28, 2010
Cars, cars,cars....What percentage of our energy consumption is from cars? Green house gas percentage? The city lights are pretty from space!
lengould100
not rated yet Sep 29, 2010
Problem with this plan is it simply switches the energy use from petroleum (agreed, imported is not nice) to coal. We also need to make a co-ordinated switch away from dirty coal-fired electricity generation.

I'd be happier if the coal-fired generators at least removed the uranium, thorium and other radioactives from the coal ash before throwing it up the chimney and allover the dump grounds. If they were required to do that there would be sufficient energy potential in the radioactives to provide equivalent energy from breeder fission reactors without needing to burn the coal.

Coal Ash Is More Radioactive than Nuclear Waste - Scientific American - http://www.scient...ar-waste

Actually the title of the article is a bit misleading. The article is about the fact that coalburners release more radioactives than nuclear reactors during normal operation.
flying_finn
not rated yet Sep 29, 2010
China alone is bringing over 100 coal fired plants on line within the next year to meet their energy demands. How many carbon coupons do need to make uo for that?
CarolinaScotsman
not rated yet Oct 03, 2010
There is a problem with rails anyway, being once you get from city to city, then what? Walk half way across baton rouge? Have fleets of electric buses standing by to carry people to local destinations?

So its:

1) Walk halfway across town or hire a taxi or bus to get to the train station.

2) Ride train to town nearest your workplace.

3) Hire taxi or bus or walk to work.

4) repeat 3 in reverse.

5) repeat 2 in reverse.

6) repeat 1 in reverse.



Back in the 1930s when rails still covered most of the country, my mother (who lived in rural SC) walked to the train station in the morning, caught the train to another city, then walked to work. In the afternoons she did the reverse. I don't think there was any permanent damage. (Though she did tell us kids we could "walk" places, can you imagine, actually walking?) That was what was avilable to her if she wanted to work. Being a lowly woman, she didn't make enough money to buy a car.

CarolinaScotsman
not rated yet Oct 03, 2010
If Americans actually walked a little, used public transit a little and quit demanding door to door privilege as if they were royalty then perhaps we could make some prgress.