Electric Cars Are Great in Vermont, Not So Great in Kentucky


Climate Central has some bad news for all of us eco-sensitive folks: figuring out the best car to drive is harder than you think. For starters, you need to take into account which state you live in. If you live in, say, Washington or Vermont, where most of your electricity comes from hydropower or nuclear, an electric car is pretty carbon friendly. If you live in Kentucky, where your power mostly comes from coal, an electric car isn’t such a good choice.

But there’s more. You also need to account for the carbon emissions it takes to build the car in the first place. And since battery manufacturing is pretty carbon intensive, a car with a big battery starts out with a big carbon deficit to make up. Their conclusion:

In 26 states, a plug-in hybrid is the most climate-friendly option (narrowly outperforming all-electrics in 11 states, assuming 50:50 split between between driving on gas and electric for the plug-in hybrids), and in the other 24 states, a gas-powered car the best. All-electrics and plug-in hybrids are best in states with green electrical grids with substantial amounts of hydro, nuclear and wind power that produce essentially no carbon emissions. Conventional hybrids are best in states where electricity comes primarily from coal and natural gas.

The table on the right shows Climate Central’s total lifecycle ranking of various cars based on 50,000 miles of driving and U.S. average electrical emissions. All-electric cars do better if you live in a state with lots of hydropower, and they also do better if you drive more, since that provides more time to make up the carbon deficit from manufacturing the battery.

You can read the whole report for more details, including rankings for each state. In Vermont, the all-electric Honda Fit comes in first. In California, a plug-in Prius is the top choice. In Kentucky, a regular gasoline-powered hybrid Prius is number one. The lovely Tesla S, sadly, does poorly pretty much everywhere.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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