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Green with anger: The future is now for electric vehicles

Electric vehicles have a significantly reduced environmental impact due, in part, to the mindset of EV buyers.
Renewable energy such as solar power and wind farms like this one in Sweetwater, Texas, is used to power a majority of electric vehicles. The “selection effect” is the phenomenon of electric car owners powering cars with renewable energy, which makes up 5 percent of the national power grid. (Paul Moseley / McClatchy-Tribune)
July 17, 2013, 11:32 a.m.

By Robert Duffer, Chicago Tribune

Editor’s note: “Green with anger” is a new series showcasing the myths and merits in the debate over vehicles and the environment.

Earlier this week we reported on Ozzie Zehner and his article, “Unclean at Any Speed,” which posited that electric vehicles are not the most environmentally friendly car when you consider the full product life cycle, also known as cradle-to-grave in environmental circles. Our coverage elicited a host of responses debunking Zehner’s debunking.

Today we introduce a Zehner debunker, Bob Bruninga, a senior research engineer at the US Naval Academy. He’s been an EV owner since 1980 and, like Zerner, built his own EV. He’s built several, in fact, dating back to 1970. A member of one of the oldest EV car clubs in the country, the EV Association of Greater Washington, DC(EVADC), Bruninga is also on the committee of the Transportation and Aerospace Policy at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the “world’s largest professional association for the advancement of technology.”

The IEEE publishes the trade magazine that ran “Unclean at any Speed” on June 30. What follows is a Q & A between Bruninga and the Green Guide based on his response to the inciting article.

Green Guide: What is the relationship between electric vehicle owners and their power source? Can you explain the “selection effect”?

Bob Bruninga: This is the most important point. Those who buy EV’s do so because they want to clean up the environment, and so more than half of those buy clean power (either solar or wind) as well. One cannot ignore the selection effect of who buys EV’s and where they get their power. A point overlooked in EVERY dirty-EV study to date.

The selection effect means that green people buy green cars and green electricity for the future. Zehner ignores the fact that EV owners mostly charge their cars from clean renewable energy either from their own solar arrays or purchase agreements from solar or wind.


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