Here's the EPA's New Ruling On the Carbon Footprint of Your EV

EVs are only as clean as their energy source, and the new Supreme Court ruling scales back EPA authority towards plants that still operate on coal and natural gas. 
Written by Allison Stone
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
Jul 22, 2022
Rising gas prices and concerns over the environment have turned many consumers to consider electric vehicles, but holdouts wonder—are they really more
eco-friendly
than gas-powered cars?
After all, tailpipe emissions aren’t the only concern when calculating your personal
carbon footprint
, and electric power is only as clean as the grid that supplies it—which has vast implications for electric cars. 
According to
Green Car Reports
, a recent
supreme court ruling
has stripped the EPA of its oversight powers to limit carbon dioxide emissions from power plants across the nation. 
Read on with car ownership super app
Jerry
to learn more about what this potentially means for EV owners and reaching carbon neutrality.  

What the EPA ruling means

The new ruling—which has temporarily blocked the Clean Power Plan, has particularly dire implications for electric car use in parts of the country that primarily rely on fossil fuel burning power plants.
While the EPA retains the power to regulate criteria pollutants such as carbon monoxide, ozone, lead, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, and sulfur dioxide, it has lost much of its agency to not only reduce carbon emissions from power plants but to clean up the U.S. power grid as a whole. 
The Clean Power Plan proposed a cap-and-trade market that would incentivize plants to move away from coal and natural gas toward renewables like wind and solar. 
The Supreme Court ruled that the schematics of the plan fell outside the regulatory rule of the EPA, and while the EPA hasn’t lost all of its power to combat climate change, plants that primarily rely on coal or natural gas now no longer have financial pressure to make the switch to renewables so long as they meet minimum emissions requirements. 

Why electric cars aren’t 100% carbon neutral

While electric cars are a great alternative for consumers who want to cut down their reliance on fossil fuels, they’re not a perfect solution. When it comes to driving, even
the nanoparticles shed from your tires
hitting the road contribute to air, water, and soil pollution. 
Electric cars have even come under fire in the past for the environmental impact of sourcing some of the raw materials crucial to making rechargeable batteries. 
Lithium, for example, is one of the most in-demand materials in the automotive industry right now, but both the mining and refining processes for this precious metal are
environmentally dubious
While local legislators, environmental activists, and members of the automotive industry alike have been working to clean up the mining industry, the recent Supreme Court ruling on the Obama-era Clean Power Plan is a huge step backward for climate targets overall. 
In areas where power plants will continue to rely on coal and natural gas, calculating the mile-per-gallon equivalent for your EV on a carbon basis gets more complicated. 

The U.S. is still investing in renewable energy

The results of the recent ruling mean that going green will be harder than ever, but some federal spending plans and technological advances in the EV industry show promise. 
The bipartisan infrastructure bill designates $65 billion to upgrade the grid ahead of a push to renewables, and $5 billion to build out EV charging station infrastructure. 
Some EV makers are turning towards solar power as a way to create self-charging cars, while other localities have infrastructure plans that will charge your car as your drive. 
Dutch automotive startup
Lightyear
has a solar-powered car in the works that can drive short distances for months before ever needing a charge. 

Getting car insurance for an EV

EVs are not a perfect alternative to internal combustion engine cars, but the road to building out a cleaner energy infrastructure is going to need room for trial and error. 
Making a viable alternative to gas-powered cars available in the mainstream is a crucial step in that process towards a cleaner energy grid overall. 
Making the EV experience and access to renewable energy sources as hassle-free as filling up at the gas pump is key to their mainstream success—why not take a similar hassle-free approach to your car insurance plan?
Sign up with the Jerry app and in less than a minute you’ll be able to compare rates for your customized policy from 55+ top companies, all for free. Use Jerry to save money without losing coverage.
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